Italian war crimes

Italian war crimes

Italian war crimes are a well documented but poorly publicized face of the history of Italy during the 20th century.

War Crimes

During the first half of the 20th century Italy was involved in several colonial wars, notably against the then only independent African states, Ethiopia (the Abyssinian war), and in World War II, up to September 1943 as one of the Axis Powers and later assisting to some extent the Allies, except for the Italian Social Republic of Salò that continued the allegiance to the Axis Powers, i.e. Germany. The military campaigns, except the actions of the Italian partisans, were led by the Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.

During the military campaigns numerous cases of violations of the Laws of War were reported and documented.

List of Italian war crimes

This is a working list of violations of the Laws of War by Italian military personnel or other officials involved in acts of war. Inclusion of an event does not imply that the event was qualified as a War crime by a Court of Justice. As noted in the relevant section very few cases have been brought to court due to diplomatic activities of, notably the Government of the United Kingdom and subsequent general abolition. It is also important to note that, before and during World War II, the only laws of war were those established in the Geneva conventions and in the Kellogg-Briand Pact (signed by Italy), and that many acts of the Italian troops can be considered war crimes only under the later United Nations Charter (1945).

* Rab concentration camp - concentration camp on the island of Rab, cca 2000 people died there
* Gonars concentration camp - concentration camp in the city of Gonars, near Trieste, cca 500 victims, not known in Italy

List of Italian war criminals

This is a working list of Italian high ranking military personnel or other officials involved in acts of war. It includes also such personnel of lower rank that were accused of grave breaches of Laws of war. Inclusion of a person does not imply that the person was qualified as a War crime by a Court of Justice. As noted in the relevant section, very few cases have been brought to court due to diplomatic activities of notably the Government of the United Kingdom and subsequent general abolition.

The criterion for inclusion in the list is existence of reliable documented sources.
* Pietro Badoglio: In 1936, during the Second Italo-Abyssinian War, Badoglio approved, as commander in chief of the Italian army, the use of poisonous gas against enemy troops.
* Rodolfo Graziani: In 1950, a military tribunal sentenced Graziani to prison for a term of 19 years as punishment for his collaboration with the Nazis, when he was Minister of Defense of the Italian Social Republic.
* Mario Roatta: (from J. Burgwyn, abstract) "On 1 March 1942, he "(Roatta)" circulated a pamphlet entitled '3C' among his commanders that spelled out military reform and draconian measures to intimidate the Slav populations into silence by means of summary executions, hostage-taking, reprisals, internments and the burning of houses and villages. By his reckoning, military necessity knew no choice, and law required only lip service. Roatta's merciless suppression of partisan insurgency was not mitigated by his having saved the lives of both Serbs and Jews from the persecution of Italy's allies Germany and Croatia. Under his watch, the 2nd Army's record of violence against the Yugoslav population easily matched the German. Tantamount to a declaration of war on civilians, Roatta's '3C' pamphlet involved him in war crimes."

Aftermath of Italian war crimes

No Italian war criminal was brought to court for crimes in Africa, France, the Balkans and on the Eastern Front, though more than 1,200 Italian officials were indicted by the relevant authorities.


* Lidia Santarelli: "Muted violence: Italian war crimes in occupied Greece", "Journal of Modern Italian Studies", September 2004, vol. 9, no. 3, pp. 280-299(20); Routledge, part of the Taylor & Francis Group []
* Effie G.H. Pedaliu: "Britain and the ‘Hand-Over’ of Italian War Criminals to Yugoslavia, 1945–48",Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 39, No. 4, 503-529 (2004) []
* Pietro Brignoli: "Santa messa per i miei fucilati", Longanesi & C., Milano, 1973 []
* H James Burgwyn: General Roatta's war against the partisans in Yugoslavia: 1942, Journal of Modern Italian Studies, September 2004, vol. 9, no. 3, pp. 314-329(16) []
* Gianni Oliva: 'Si ammazza troppo poco'. I crimini di guerra italiani 1940-43. ('There are to few killings'. Italian war crimes 1940-43, Mondadori, 2006, ISBN 88-04-55129-1
* Alessandra Kersevan: "Un campo di concentramento fascista. Gonars 1942-1943", Comune di Gonars e Ed. Kappa Vu, 2003

External links

*Italy's bloody secrets, BBC 1989 documentary "Fascist Legacy" [ ]
* [ Slovene - Italian relations 1880 - 1956] (English version)
* [ Crimini di guerra] (in Italian)

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