Thursday, June 20, 2013

Italian policeman viewed as a saint for rescuing Jews - was in fact a collaborator with Nazis

NY Times   He has been called the Italian Schindler, credited with helping to save 5,000 Jews during the Holocaust. Giovanni Palatucci, a wartime police official, has been honored in Israel, in New York and in Italy, where squares and promenades have been named in his honor, and in the Vatican, where Pope John Paul II declared him a martyr, a step toward potential sainthood. 

But at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, the tale of his heroic exploits is being removed from an exhibition after officials there learned of new evidence suggesting that, far from being a hero, he was an enthusiastic Nazi collaborator involved in the deportation of Jews to Auschwitz. 

A letter sent this month to the museum’s director by the Centro Primo Levi at the Center for Jewish Studies in New York stated that a research panel of more than a dozen scholars who reviewed nearly 700 documents concluded that for six years, Palatucci was “a willing executor of the racial legislation and — after taking the oath to Mussolini’s Social Republic, collaborated with the Nazis.” 

The letter said that Italian and German records provided no evidence that he had helped Jews during the war and that the first mention only surfaced years later, in 1952. Researchers also found documents that showed Palatucci had helped the Germans identify Jews to round up.[...]

Alexander Stille, a professor at the Columbia University journalism school who has reviewed some of the documents, said the Palatucci case is a result of three powerful institutions, all with a vested interest in publicizing what appeared to be a heroic tale: “The Italian government was anxious to rehabilitate itself and show that they were better and more humane than their Nazi allies. The Catholic Church was eager to tell a positive story about the church’s role during the war, and the State of Israel was eager to promote the idea of righteous gentiles and tell stories of right-minded ordinary people who helped to save ordinary Jews.”  [...]

1 comment :

  1. The authenticity of history, like that of science, depends upon the potentiality of disproving it.


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