The unholy alliance that began over 7-decades ago between Germany’s Adolf Hitler and Italy’s Benito Mussolini, may still have their extremist far-right roots embedded deep within those two countries.
In a stunning surprise statement Thursday, Italian police confirmed they had disrupted a network comprised of 19 suspected extremists hoping to resurrect once again the Nazi Party.
The disclosure by Italian authorities that they had orchestrated a combined operation dubbed “Operation Black Shadows,” targeting 16 cities and towns, including Milan, Genoa, Livorno, Turin, Padua, and Verona, illustrates the pervasive re-emergence of this murderous ideology that claimed the lives of between 22,000,000 to 30,000,000 people within just 5-years.
The Italian news agency ANSA reported that the “Polizia di Stato” seized a small arsenal of weapons and far-right propaganda material, including an array of Nazi paraphernalia, from the homes of the 19 suspected extremists.
It was not immediately clear how many people, if any, were arrested and police gave no estimate of how many people were members of the self-styled Italian National Socialist Workers Party.
Italian authorities had been “monitoring extreme right-wing local groups all united by the same ideological fanaticism and intending to constitute a pro-Nazi, xenophobic and anti-Semitic movement.”
Adding some suspects “had a vast amount of weapons and explosives at their disposal” while others tried to recruit new members by posting anti-Semitic and Holocaust-denying material on social media.
One of the suspected ringleaders is a 50-year old woman from the province city of Padua, who proclaimed herself “Hitler’s Sergeant Major” in private chat group on social media, while another 26-year-old woman from Sicily bragged of winning an online “Miss Hitler” beauty contest. The women also mentioned attending and speaking at a far-right conference in Lisbon this past August.
The police raid also netted a convicted member, believed to be a senior member of the notorious “Ndrangheta Mafia” and a former member of the extremist far-right group known as “Forza Nuova” (New Force).
Police believe that the self-described Nazis have far-right contacts in other European cities in Portugal, Britain and France. However because of its brutal history, under Italian law, it’s illegal for extremist groups in Italy to resurrect any reproduction of Fascism or Nazism in the country.
Moreover, a chilling survey just published several weeks ago by the Anti-Defamation League, showing that 18% of Italians hold anti-Semitic attitudes, however, a similar survey in 2015 had that number at a staggering 29%, which indicates some improvement in anti-Semitic attitudes.
The Milan-based Center of Contemporary Jewish Documents Observatory on Anti-Jewish Prejudice said it had received reports of 190 anti-Semitic incidents through the first nine months of this year, 120 of them on social media. That compares with 153 anti-Semitic incidents for all of 2018 and 91 for all of 2017.
However Italy isn’t alone in experiencing a rise in anti-Semitic attitudes, in fact, most of Europe has seen a dramatic rise of anti-Jewish sentiment, not seen since those dark and ominous days prior to WWII.
Even more concerning, Germany seems to once again be at the forefront of the anti-Semitic movement. Council members in the German city of Dresden, the capital of Saxony became so alarmed at the rise of anti-Semitism and extremist views regarding violence towards German Jews, that they were forced to publicly declare a “Nazi emergency.”
The formal resolution although signed and approved by council members fell far short of a unanimous vote, acknowledges that “right-wing extremist attitudes and actions … are occurring with increasing frequency.”
The resolution also calls upon the city to help victims of far-right violence, protect minorities and strengthen democracy.
Local councilor Max Aschenbach, whose left-leaning satirical party Die Partei sponsored the resolution, told the BBC, “’Nazinotstand’ means – similar to the climate emergency – that we have a serious problem. The open democratic society is threatened.”
Adding, “The request was an attempt to change that. I also wanted to know what kind of people I’m sitting within the city council of Dresden.”
The resolution was approved by a 38 to 29 vote, with Chancellor Angela Merkel voting against the measure, which should give any critical thinking individual pause. Merkel apparently has no problem welcoming hordes of Muslim refugees into the country, however, he has an issue with condemning anti-Semitic attitudes against fellow Jewish citizens.