Berlusconi's defence of Mussolini slammed

2013-01-28 13:03
Former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, foreground, sits in front of Northern League party's leader Roberto Maroni, in Milan, Italy. (Antonio Calanni, AP)

Former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, foreground, sits in front of Northern League party's leader Roberto Maroni, in Milan, Italy. (Antonio Calanni, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Rome - Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi drew widespread criticism for defending Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini during an event marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The comments were "an electoral manoeuvre" to reach out to far-right voters, the head of the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), Pier Luigi Bersani, was quoted as saying on Sunday by the ANSA press agency.

Berlusconi, who is leading a centre-right coalition in parliamentary polls in February, said Mussolini "in many ways did well."

But the 1938 racial laws barring Jews from universities and many professions were the dictator's worst fault, he said at a ceremony in Milan Sunday.

Mussolini came to power in 1922 and allied himself with Nazi Germany during World War II. That included taking part in Adolf Hitler's persecution against Europe's Jewish population.

He said it was possible that Italy was "frightened that German power might become a German victory, and preferred to ally itself with Hitler's Germany rather than to oppose it," he said.

Renzo Gattegna, president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, called that suggestion "not only superficial and inappropriate, but devoid of moral sense or historical basis."

"It is well-known that the persecution and racist laws against Jews originated well before the war and were implemented in full autonomy by the fascist regime," he was quoted as saying by the ASNA press agency.

Berlusconi dismissed the criticism as politicking by his opponents. He said there could be no ambiguity about his overall opinion of the dictator.

"My historical analyses have always been based on a condemnation of dictatorships," Berlusconi said later, insisting that he has always been a "friend of Israel."

If his coalition wins in February, Berlusconi has said he wants to become economy minister, and has made no claim to his former office of prime minister in recent statements.

At Sunday's ceremony, outgoing Prime Minister Mario Monti called for vigilance in light of new right-wing radical activity.

Read more on:    silvio berlusconi  |  rome

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Millions of plastic particles in our food!

Scientists and researchers believe that almost five million tons of plastic is dumped in the oceans every year and it’s affecting our food.



Plastic on your plate
Prince George the green prince?
Lean, green, drifiting machine
One man's $1 million vision for an eco Africa

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts

The Leo moon adds an element of drama and entertainment. A significant person that you may consult or confide in may play more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.