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In Italy, the anti-Jewish persecutions were divided into two growing, sadly related phases: first the rights of the Jews were targeted by the Fascist government through promulgation of the racial laws of 1938; later they were struck physically with arrests, deportations and massacres at the hands of the Fascists and the Germans, who after September 8, 1943 had occupied central-northern Italy. 

In 1938, the introduction of racial laws was a serious act of internal politics, launched by the Italian Parliament at the peak of the Fascist regime's anti-Semitic campaign.

Anti-Jewish persecution was fervently sought by Benito Mussolini and involved the entire society. For the first time in the history of the unified Italy, it targeted a segment of the Italian population, striking them with regulations of unprecedented violence and radicalism. And it was not by chance that it started with the schools, discriminating pupils and teachers, the heart of civil society.

After September 8, 1943, Italy was split into the zone controlled by the Allies and by the Kingdom of Italy (southern Italy and the island regions) – where the Nazi and Fascists were unable to introduce new anti-Jewish measures – and the northeastern regions where, instead, persecution was increasingly applied by both Fascists and by the occupying German forces. It was a policy that hunted the Jews, who were often also the victims of grassing.

The thrust of anti-Semitic action gained impetus when the Minister of Interior ordered the arrest of all Jews, their internment in concentration camps and seizure of their property. The German police immediately deported the arrested Jews, but soon the Italian Social Republic established a national gathering and deportation camp at Fossoli (from which convoys periodically departed for Auschwitz), and later at Gries and the Rice Mill of San Sabba. 

Almost 9,000 Jews were arrested in Italy, more than 300 were killed on the peninsula and the remainder deported and exterminated in the Nazi camps.

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