ROME (JTA) – The head of Italy’s Jewish community slammed the return to the country and reburial of its fascist-era king, Victor Emmanuel III.
Noemi Di Segni, president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities umbrella group, denounced Emmanuel as an accomplice of the fascist regime of Nazi ally Benito Mussolini.
Under fascism, the king supported Mussolini’s policies and along with Mussolini signed sweeping anti-Semitic laws in 1938.
Emmanuel reigned from 1900 until his abdication in 1946. He died in exile in Alexandria, Egypt, in 1947 and was buried there. On Sunday, his remains were flown to Italy and reburied next to his wife in the northwest Piemonte region.
In a statement, Di Segni said that “in an era marked by the progressive loss of [historic] memory and fundamental values,” the return of his remains could only “engender deep concern.” She noted that next year marks the 80th anniversary of the fascist racial laws that imposed anti-Semitic discrimination and persecution, and last year marked the 70th anniversary of the post-World War II referendum that abolished the Italian monarchy.
“Victor Emmanuel III was an accomplice of that fascist regime whose rise and violence, which was openly manifested since the first months of the fascist period, he never hindered,” Di Segni said.