Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts (Thesis)

Schools and Centres

Arts & Sciences

First Supervisor

Shane Burke


This study investigated how the organisation Delasem (‘Delegazione Assistenza Emigrati Ebrei’) operated unrestricted in their support of Jewish people under Mussolini’s Fascist regime between 1939 and 1943. It includes a brief historical background of Italy that focuses on the life of Jewish people since their first arrival in Italy about 2000 years ago. This historical section was presented so that the reader could understand Italian culture and its changing attitude to Italian and non-Italian Jewish people in Italy. This section outlined the circumstances of Italian Jews under Mussolini’s Fascist regime that resulted in Delasem’s formation and the flood of Jewish refugees into Italy from parts of Nazi occupied Europe.

The result of this thesis’ research question is that Delasem operated as an aid agency for Jewish people from 1939 to 1943 because of direct and indirect assistance from Mussolini and his Fascist regime.

The study of Delasem’s documents allows one to understand what happened in Italy to Jewish people from the promulgation of the ‘Leggi Raziali’ in 1938 to the fall of Mussolini’s Fascist regime in 1943. It complements and contributes to other research on the topic of the dichotomy that exists between Mussolini and the Jews in Italy. There is a division between those believing that Mussolini was ambivalent to the issues of Jewish people in Italy and those who consider Mussolini to be little different to the more infamous Nazi individuals associated with the murder of about six million Jewish people.

This research complements and contributes to the study of Jewish people in Axis countries during the Second World War. Furthermore, it shows how Mussolini allowed Delasem to exist and to operate in an environment supposedly hostile to pro-Jewish views after the Fascist government tabled the Racial Laws in 1938.

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