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Italian minister pays homage to fascist troops

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Tom Kington
London Guardian
Tuesday, Sept 9, 2008

Italy’s defence minister yesterday paid tribute to fascist soldiers who fought in Italy alongside German troops during the second world war, inflaming a row prompted on Sunday when Rome’s mayor refused to condemn fascism as evil.

Speaking at an anniversary event marking Rome’s resistance to Nazi occupation in 1943, the defence minister, Ignazio La Russa, yesterday chose to stress the patriotism of those Italians who fought against the advancing allied forces.

A day earlier, the mayor of Rome, Gianni Alemanno, a former neo-fascist youth leader, told the newspaper Corriere della Sera he “did not and never has” considered fascism to be “absolute evil”. That definition he saved for the racial laws passed by Italy’s fascist government in 1938, which removed Jewish Italians from state jobs. “Fascism was a more complex phenomenon. Many people signed up in good faith,” he argued.

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Alemanno’s comments drew criticism from the Italian Jewish community leader Renzo Gattegna, who said: “The racial laws were created by the fascist regime, and it therefore seems difficult to separate the two.”

The leader of the centre-left opposition, Walter Veltroni, reminded Alemanno that Mussolini had destroyed Italian democracy before 1938; Veltroni also said he was resigning in protest from a committee, overseen by the city, to plan a Holocaust museum.

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This article was posted: Tuesday, September 9, 2008 at 3:30 am

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