Preziosi, Giovanni°

views updated


PREZIOSI, GIOVANNI ° (1881–1945), Fascist journalist and leading theorist of racial antisemitism in Italy. Even before World War i, Preziosi, a former priest, began a crusade to preserve "Italianness" from "foreign intrigue," chiefly through the review he founded in 1913, La Vita Italiana all' Estero (later renamed La Vita Italiana). In 1917 Preziosi formed one of the first Fasci. In August 1920, with an article in La Vita Italiana entitled "The Jewish International," he initiated a campaign of hatred and slander against Jews and Judaism, with the avowed purpose of "inoculating antisemitism into the blood of the Italians." Preziosi was an anomaly on the Italian scene, even among Fascist hotheads, and more than anyone else he was responsible for preparing the Italian people for the psychological acceptance of racism. The antisemitism of *Farinacci and even *Mussolini was chiefly political and opportunistic, while Preziosi, inspired by his own phobias, saw the Jews, both foreign and Italian, as objective enemies who had "infiltrated" Italy at all levels. In 1921 he was the first to publish the Italian version of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which he reissued in 1937. Preziosi's ideas were the main inspiration for the July 1938 Manifesto della Razza, which served as a basis for the subsequent racial legislation and discrimination. In 1941 he became minister of state, ever in quest of "integral racism" and complete friendship with Germany. Under German pressure Mussolini appointed Preziosi head of the Inspectorate for Racial Affairs (Ufficio della Razza) in March 1944, during the last and most brutal phase of Italian Fascism. In April 1945 hecommitted suicide.


R. de Felice, Storia degli ebrei italiani sotto il fascismo (1961), index; J. Starr, in: jsos, 1 (1939), 105–24; G. Bedarida, Ebrei d'Italia (1950), index.

[Emmanuel Beeri]