H. Stuart Hughes
- All or Nothing: The Axis and the Holocaust 1941-1943 by Jonathan Steinberg
Routledge, 320 pp, £20.00, June 1990, ISBN 0 415 04757 9
In the late summer of 1942 a small group of Italian diplomats and senior officers decided to save the lives of a few thousand Jews. The Jews, mostly from Croatia, had fled to the parts of Yugoslavia which the Italian Army occupied during 1941 and had since that time lived in peace under the protection of the Royal Italian Army. They had run from the unsystematic butchery of the Croatian Fascists, the Ustasi, but by the middle of 1942 they were threatened with the systematic extermination planned for them under the Nazi ‘new order’ in Europe. In August of 1942 the German Government formally asked the Italian Government to hand them over. Mussolini agreed; a handful of Italian diplomats and generals said no.
[*] Yale, 402 pp., £16.95, 19 October 1989, 0 300 04661 8.
Vol. 12 No. 19 · 11 October 1990
Commenting on the liberal traditions of the Royal Italian Army, H. Stuart Hughes writes: ‘Here alone, as far back as the early 20th century, one could find generals who were Jews’ (LRB, 13 September). Hughes has evidently forgotten that the Austrian Army, too, included a number of generals of Jewish origin, starting with General Armand von Nordman (killed in action at the battle of Wagram in 1809). Nordman was a baptised Jew; but by 1910 there were at least two hundred and fifty Jewish officers in the Austro-Hungarian Army, including four generals, who were not baptised (see Erwin Schmidl, Jews in the Habsburg Armed Forces). The Army was strikingly successful in resisting the anti-semitism which permeated Habsburg politics. The tragedy is that this tradition did not survive defeat in 1918. Indeed, the last notable Jewish general to serve in the Austrian Army, Johann Friedländer, perished in a concentration camp in 1944. Compared with the record of the Italians (to which Hughes rightly pays tribute), the number of Austrians who attempted to save Jews from the Nazis was extremely small.
Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge