A People Under Terror

A People Under Terror

We print below an excerpt from Benevolence and Betrayal,* an extremely rich portrayal of the fate of the Italian Jews during the Second World War. By showing the varying fates of several Italian Jewish families, Alexander Stille, a gifted young writer of Italian descent, has provided a valuable record of a tragic experience.

Mussolini’s regime was at first relatively tolerant toward the Jews, some of whom declared themselves “loyal citizens.” By 1938, however, under pressure from his ally Hitler, Mussolini announced a new set of “racial laws.” During the war a large percentage of the Italian Jews were deported to concentration camps in Germany and Poland; only a few returned home. In the pages below, Stille traces the story of a Jewish family in the ghetto of Rome.

This excerpt is printed with the kind permission of the author. —EDs.