PW reviews Defying Evil: How the Italian Army Saved Croatian Jews During the Holocaust

March 2, 2012 — Print this Page

High school history teacher Wood illuminates the fascinating but little-known history of the Holocaust in Yugoslavia during WWII in this thoroughly researched volume that draws from previously published works and interviews, as well as personal interviews. Wood provides a brief overview of this nation of mixed nationalities and ethnic groups in the decades prior to the war, as well as discussing Serbian and Croatian politics—including the Croatian Revolutionary Movement (the Ustasha) and its leader, Ante Pavelic. When the war turned the country into “one giant slaughterhouse” for the Jewish Croatians, refugees fled to the Italian zone of occupation, where they were treated with humanity and even compassion. Although Italy dared not openly cross Hitler, Italians sentimental to the plight of the Jews created bureaucratic structures to cause delays while housing the refugees in protective camps like Ferramonti Tarsia in Southern Italy, which included a school, synagogues, a library, and even sports teams and a theater troupe. Concluding with statistics and an analysis of the war and the conditions that led the Italian army to take on this protective role, Wood narrates a compelling volume that will interest historians as well as those who desire to learn more about these ethnic groups. B&W Photos.(Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/24/2012

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