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January 28, 2013 12:45 am

Silvio Berlusconi Offers Praise to Mussolini at Holocaust Memorial Ceremony

avatar by Max Elstein Keisler

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Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

F0rmer Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi made controversial remarks at a Holocaust memorial event in Italy Sunday, saying that despite his anti-Jewish racial laws, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini did what was best for Italy, including allying with Hitler.

Berlusconi, the right wing politician and media mogul said that “it is difficult now to put oneself in the shoes of who was making decisions back then. Certainly the (Italian) government then, fearing that German power would turn into a general victory, preferred to be allied with Hitler’s Germany rather than oppose it.”

On the subject of Mussolini’s antisemitism (over 6,000 Italian Jews were killed in the Holocaust), Berlusconi said that as a result of the Hitler-Mussolini alliance “there came the imposition of the fight against, and extermination of, the Jews. Thus, the racial laws are the worst fault of Mussolini, who, in so many other aspects, did good.”

Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, criticized Berlusconi’s factual accuracy, as well as his sentiments in a statement, saying that Mussolini “modeled his anti-Jewish laws after the Nazi Nuremberg Laws barring Jews from civil service. It is the height of revisionism to try to reinstate an Italian dictator who helped legitimize and prop up Hitler as a ‘reincarnated good guy.”

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