The television story

During an interview given to the journalist Andrea Barbato for a Rai broadcast, which aired on 8 May 1965, entitled “La lotta per la libertà. Vent’anni di opposizione al fascismo“, the historian Renzo De Felice defined the racial laws of 1938 «one of the most unpopular acts committed by the fascist regime, which the Italian people, along with some Mussolini followers, do not accept», as «infamy contrary to the traditions of the country».

A good-natured and self-assertive vision of fascism, widely questioned by historiography but still present in the media debate.

As reported in 2021 by the Final Report of the German-Italian Commission, there is indeed a significant gap between the plan of historiographical research, with acquisitions now consolidated compared to the advent of the fascist regime in Italy and the war period 1939-45, and what the media narrative (especially television but also popular historiography) conveys in public opinion. Considering the particular Italian case, the general common sense about the national past, still appears heavily influenced by distortions, manipulations, myths and persistent stereotypes, compared to the history of fascism, to the period of the Second World War, and to the responsibilities for the criminal conduct of the armies of Italy and Germany in the “war on civilians”. Such myths and stereotypes constitute an obstacle to be removed in the path of reconciliation between the two countries in the name of greater mutual knowledge.

As a result of an analysis coordinated by the Italian-German Centre for European Dialogue – Villa Vigoni –  and the Deutsche Historische Institut in Rome (and thanks to the Italo-German Fund for the Future) the research project “Fascist past. Fascism and Nazism in the Rai and Mediaset television story” tried to understand how the Italian media shaped the collective memory of the fascist regime and the German National Socialism.

Through a wide selection of audiovisual materials ordered into decades (from the 50s to today), preserved in the archives of the Teche Rai (fiction, talk shows, television series, documentaries of great impact on the public), this webdoc explains how Italian television has helped to strengthen (or deconstruct) those softened myths and narratives regarding the fascist regime and German National Socialism.

Prof. Leonardo Campus (University of RomeTre) edited  the analysis of audiovisual sources, presented in the extract and for the first time accessible to all in compliance with copyright and accompanied by transcriptions in Italian, German and English.

Prof. Marco Mondini (University of Padua) has carefully examined scientific and popular historiography on fascism and Nazism, to give account of the progress of research and reflections on the topics indicated.

Prof.ssa Michela Ponzani (University of Rome “Tor Vergata”) coordinated the research project and developed the section of political events that in Italy have accompanied historiographical research and television seasons, influencing mental paradigms and national self-representations, also thanks to new policies of memory that have rewritten the civil calendar.