Research Unit Politics

Jews in the Italian Fascist Party

A Prosopography

The point of departure for this dissertation projects is the remarkable proportion of Jews in the Partito Nazionale Fascista (PNF), the Italian Fascist Party. Although Jews only made up 0.1 percent of the total Italian population around around the early twentieth century, the proportion of Jews in the PNF was three times this number. This dissertation project aims to investigate the causes of this attraction.

Through the biographies of three Jewish party functionaries, the project explores commonalities in their attempts to orient themselves politically and places these in relation to the trajectories of other party members. The four individuals in question, namely Gino Arias (1879–1940), Guido Jung (1876–1949), and Elisa Majer-Rizzioli (1880–1930), each present different backgrounds and routes into the Fascist Party.

Beyond the Jewish PNF members, the project moreover focuses on their parents’ generation, who experienced the establishment of a united Kingdom of Italy in 1861 and the Italy-wide emancipation of Jews. This study is based on the hypothesis that the question of Jewish membership in the PNF can only be understood against the backdrop of the specifically Jewish attachment to the Risorgimento, the Italian process of becoming a nation state. Therefore, the chronology from 1921 to 1938 will be expanded with an analysis reaching back into the nineteenth century. To this end, the project employs a longue durée perspective, which allows the ambivalences and deeper layers of Jewish acculturation history in modern Italy to be exposed.