My Authors
Read all threads
#25aprile: 75 years ago #OTD Italy was freed from Fascism & Nazi occupation. Today is Liberation Day/Anniversario della #liberazione d'Italia. #italia #resistenza #BellaCiao
Several years ago, while researching #TheShadowKing, I went to the small but spectacular #Museodellaresistenza in Torino wanting to learn stories of #Italy's #resistance to #Fascismo
I was interested in Italy's #antiSemitic laws of 1938 & how they connected to the racial segregation laws that took effect in #Ethiopia #Eritrea #Somalia #Libya.
I'd had experts tell me that there was no connection between the two laws, that Italy's anti-Semitic laws had no connection to its racial segregation laws of the year before. But I didn't agree. I still don't agree.
A wonderful curator led me to the library and I discovered the diaries of Carlo Viterbo, an Italian Jew sent by Mussolini to report on the Ethiopian Jewish population. He was accompanied in Addis Ababa by a brilliant young scholar, Tamrat.
Viterbo was in #Ethiopia from 1936-37, then he returned to Italy. On11 June 1940, Viterbo together with many other anti-fascist Jews was arrested and he would go to prison then to an internment camp. He would survive the war. But his story made me realize the connected histories.
Italy's racial #segregation laws in its colonies paved the way for the #Antisemitic laws the next year. It was impossible to speak of the "Aryan" nature of a fascist Italian without defining the other extremes, which included the African and the Jew.
And it might have started with racism/anti-Semitism, but soon, everyone found themselves under an oppressive regime.
There are the photographs that make the #resistance against fascism heroic & epic. But they don't tell the full story. When I told the curator about what the Derg used to do to corpses in #Ethiopia, he nodded and said, They did it here too, against the resistors. #liberazione
You can stop here if you want to end on a high note. Or you can follow as I continued my journey.

When I left the library, I started looking for more connections btw Italy's racial laws. I started watching interview of Italian Jewish survivors:
I saw an interview of an Italian Jewish woman who spoke about her brother who fought in the war between Italy & #Ethiopia. "He didn't speak of what they did there," she said. When the 1938 anti-Semitic laws passed, he, like everyone else, was arrested, then deported to the camps.
My character, the soldier Ettore, was born out of this research. His parents, like many others, were sent to a former rice factory, Risiera di San Sabba outside of #Trieste then on to a camp, usually Auschwitz. I went to visit the old factory. I felt in the presence of ghosts.
I read the names of the detained. I read as many of their letters as I could. I said the names aloud. I stood in front of the commemoration for those who were detained then killed b/c they were gay or Communist, and all the reasons we find to harm each other.
I left with a goal: to complicate the history in #TheShadowKing. The same reasons that drove colonialism drove anti-Semitism: bigotry. To render complex characters, especially my Italian Jewish soldier & his cruel commander, I started looking at Italian baby pictures from 1900s.
What I learned: we are not born cruel, we become that way. We are not born brave, we become that way. The partigiani were forced into resistance. So were #Ethiopians We are approaching difficult choices today. Cruelty is often easier, silence is sometimes cruelty. #liberazione
I don't know how to end this because this history is still very much alive for me, but it's #25aprile and in honor of anti-fascists everywhere, I'll be singing #BellaCiao.
Thank you for following along on this completely unexpected thread.

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh.

Enjoying this thread?

Keep Current with Maaza Mengiste

Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!

Twitter may remove this content at anytime, convert it as a PDF, save and print for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video

1) Follow Thread Reader App on Twitter so you can easily mention us!

2) Go to a Twitter thread (series of Tweets by the same owner) and mention us with a keyword "unroll" @threadreaderapp unroll

You can practice here first or read more on our help page!

Follow Us on Twitter!

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3.00/month or $30.00/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!