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Paul Martin   Letter 03   15-Mar-2004   Italian War Crimes
Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin
WW II Italian Fascist Dictator Benito Mussolini
"One of the most notorious, Giovanni Ravalli, died only in 1998, fully exposed but completely unpunished for crimes ranging from having a Greek policeman's teeth pulled out with pliers to ordering boiling oil poured over 70 other prisoners." John MacArthur

15-Mar-2004

The Right Honourable Paul Martin
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON    K1A 0A2


Mr Prime Minister:


It is widely reported that Italians may be record-holders for escaping punishment for their WW II crimes:

If we delve further back, the roll call gets longer: the living and recently deceased Italian soldiers under Mussolini whose atrocities against Greeks, Serbs, Ethiopians and Jews have been, with U.S. approval, largely ignored for more than 60 years.  One of the most notorious, Giovanni Ravalli, died only in 1998, fully exposed but completely unpunished for crimes ranging from having a Greek policeman's teeth pulled out with pliers to ordering boiling oil poured over 70 other prisoners.
John MacArthur, Sorry About That War Crime, Glove and Mail, 04-Aug-2001  www.commondreams.org/views01/0804-03.htm

Ukraine, in contrast was not a charter member of the Axis, and did not produce any counterpart of the tooth-pulling and boiling-oil-pouring and unpunished Giovanni Ravalli described above.  And neither did Ukrainians perpetrate atrocities in their colonial territories, and neither did they create in their own country anything like the fifty concentration camps to hold Jews and foreigners that the Italian Fascists scattered throughout Italy, and neither did Ukrainians impose forced labor on Jews:

These "black holes" in the document and historiographical base correspond in interesting ways to gaps in Italian popular memory, as several fine oral history projects reveal.  Italian atrocities committed in their Balkan and colonial territories, the more than fifty concentration camps throughout Italy that held Jews and foreigners during World War Two, the forced labor of Italian Jews in the cities and countryside none of these events have much resonance at the level of individual recollection, even among those who witnessed or executed such policies and/or had quotidian engagements with those who were affected by them.  Such local patterns of (non)recollection, which often remain unchallenged due to the continued inaccessibility of many communal and provincial archives, flow into national narratives that perpetuate the idea that the Nazis "were the only ones responsible for massacres, deportations, and violent behaviors."  They sustain what the historian Ernesto Galli della Loggia has termed the "singular schizophrenia of [an] Italian public opinion" which remembers German atrocities on Italian soil and represses Italian atrocities against other peoples with equal tenacity.
Ruth Ben-Ghiat, A Lesser Evil? Italian Fascism in/and the Totalitarian Equation  http://216.239.53.104/search?q=cache:m_p0qhHfbUkJ:www.sissco.it/attivita/sem-set-2003/relazioni/ben-ghiat.rtf+%22italian+war+crimes%22&hl=en&ie=UTF-8

I invoke the comparison that I have relied on before that if Canadian prosecutors (assuming them to have done their research first) impartially ranked all Canadian-Italian and Canadian-Ukrainian war crimes suspects on the magnitude of their alleged crimes together with the credibility of the inculpatory evidence, Italians would occupy the top one hundred most-prosecutable positions.  Despite this, several Ukrainians are being prosecuted by your war-crimes unit, and not for war crimes, but only for conjectured, half-century-old immigration infractions, while Canadians of Italian origin, some of whom must have participated in Fascist crimes, have been left undisturbed from the end of the war until today.

I wonder if you would be able to explain this discrepancy between crime and government attention in some way other than the corruption of Canadian justice and the flouting of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms § 15(1) guarantee of equality before the law.




Lubomyr Prytulak


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