All or Nothing: The Axis and the Holocaust 1941-43 by Jonathan Steinberg

By Jonathan Steinberg

Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy have been united in a 'brutal friendship'. either had savage racial legislation: either Hitler and Mussolini viciously denounced the 'Jewish menace'. but each one kingdom handled the Jews really another way. when Jews who fell into the palms of the German military have been consigned, virtually with out exception to focus camps, no longer one Jew taken via the Italians suffered a similar destiny. Italian officials safe not only Italian Jews, yet Jewish refugees of each nationality. Jonathan Steinberg makes use of this extraordinary and poignant tale to resolve the explanations and forces underpinning either Nazism and Fascism in an try to get to the bottom of the underlying query: Why?

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We drive further along the street. Hundreds of Jews with bloodstained faces, with bullet holes in the head, broken limbs and gouged-out eyes run ahead of us. One of the Jews carries another one who is bleeding to death…. 71 Hitler’s greatest crime was no doubt the premeditated attempt to exterminate the Jews but no less evil was his cynical manipulation of human bestiality in all its forms. The New Order sanctioned the murder of one people by another. He demoted Jews, Russians. Serbs—‘ein Rattenvolk [a people of rats]’ SS Gruppenführer Meyszner called them72—and gypsies to the status of animals and encouraged historic enmities.

The distinguished Austrian military historian Edmund Glaise von Horstenau had persuaded the OKW that it needed an expert to handle German-Croatian relations and secured an appointment as ‘plenipotentiary German General in Agram [Zagreb]’,48 one of the first of many Austrian officers to serve in the Balkans. He knew everybody and kept up a voluminous official and private correspondence. Italian demands distressed him from the start. On the day that 26 THE EVENTS Map 2 Italian army units in Yugoslavia, 1941 the treaty between Italy and Croatia was signed, he reported that the agreement ‘had a crushing effect throughout Croatia and hatred of the new hegemony has increased to an extreme point….

This has not been an easy book to research. It reminded me of a huge jigsaw puzzle on which the player works without the picture on the box, without an idea of the number of pieces and without even knowing if they are all there. I am certain, even as I write, that part of the puzzle will always be missing. That part of policy-making which rests on the unspoken assumption, on winks and nods, on the exchange of glances, can never be recaptured. I am convinced that the gradual awareness of the German intention to exterminate the entire Jewish people made a profound difference to the way the Italian political class behaved, not least because, as I shall try to show, that knowledge reached it at the moment when a series of crises in North Africa and on the Russian front suddenly brought the prospect of defeat and the end of the regime into view.

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