Sunday, December 06, 2009

The Holocaust in Salonica

The following passage is taken from page 404 of Mazower:
When asked by the Italian consul on 27 March [1943] Merten said that the Jews were being deported to "a locality near Warsaw where there is a coal mine. They will live together, administer themselves and work in a synthetic rubber factory". This was the official line. In fact, without necessarily knowing the precise details, Italian diplomats realised many of the deportees would be killed. Another consular official, Lucillo Merci, noted in his diary on 21 March that in Poland "the physically fit among them are put to work, whereas the rest are eliminated. In the end, the physically fit will be eliminated too" [source: Carpi, p.145]
Four months earlier, on November 9, 1942, Greek collaborationist newspapers carried a Hitler speech with the headline, "International Jewry will disappear from Europe" (Mazower, p.396). Italian diplomats in March 1943 had thus learned the true meaning of the Hitler prophecy that was published in Greece the previous Autumn.


  1. You have a direct (though still in english) citation of Merci's diary in Joseph Rochlitz, « Excerpts from the Salonika Diary of Lucillo Merci (February-August 1943) », Yad Vashem Studies, 18, 1987, p. 303-304. Online:

    Other unambiguous citations from italian officials can be found in Jonathan Steinberg, All or Nothing : The Axis and the Holocaust, 1941-1943, Routledge, 1990. I have collected some of them (among others) on a "citations' web page" (in french):

    Gilles Karmasyn

  2. Hi Gilles,

    Many thanks for those links. I would like to invite you to participate in our forum:

  3. An excellent film documentary by Joseph Rothlitz, on Italian diplomatic resistance to the Holocaust, can be watched here:


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