'Mussolini: I'll build an island and put all the Jews there'
Nov 17, 2009
Italian dictator Benito Mussolini was a rabid anti-Semite who called Adolf Hitler "a big romantic" and despised the pope, a new book of his mistress Claretta Petacci's diaries revealed, AFP reported on Monday.
The Corriere della Sera daily reportedly published extracts of the book "Secret Mussolini," taken from diaries written between 1932 and 1938, on Monday two days before it hits Italian book shops.
While on a boating trip on August 4, 1938, Mussolini talked about the German dictator's new anti-Semitic laws with his mistress, saying "I've been racist since 1921," according to AFP.
"I don't know how they can think that I'm imitating Hitler, he wasn't born yet..." he was quoted as saying. "We must give Italians a feeling of race so that they don't create half-castes, so that they don't spoil what is beautiful about us."
Two months later, on October 11, Mussolini is again at sea with Petacci, when he was quoted as saying: "Those bloody Jews, they should be destroyed ... I'll build an island and put them all there... They don't even have any gratitude, recognition, not even a letter of thanks... They say we need them, their money, their help."
Mussolini's regime was generally considered less ideologically extreme than that of Hitler, who created concentration camps during the Holocaust to exterminate what he considered "inferior" people and races, including Jews.
On October 1, 1938, after the Munich Conference that gave Hitler a slice of Czechoslovakia, Mussolini tells his mistress that "the Fuhrer is very nice. Hitler is a big romantic at heart. When he saw me he had tears in his eyes. He really likes me a lot," AFP reported.
Diary entries also reportedly show Mussolini's anger with pope Pius XI who said he was "spiritually close to all Semites" and called for Catholic marriages to Jews to be recognised.