In Italy the number of Holocaust deniers has increased significantly. Almost every sixth Italian (15.6 percent) considers the Holocaust to be an invention, as can be seen from the annual report Rapporto Italia 2020 by the opinion research institute Eurispes.
The proportion of Holocaust deniers has increased sevenfold in the past 15 years: in 2004 it was 2.7 percent. Denying the Holocaust has been punishable in Italy since 2015 – just like in Germany. Anti-Semitic clichés are very widespread in Italy: 23.8 percent of Italians currently believe that the Jews control the economy and finances. 22.2 percent are convinced that they controlled the media. 26.4 percent see Jews as the determining force in US politics.
According to the survey, just under a fifth – 16.1 percent – also believe that the number of Jews murdered by the Nazis is exaggerated.
Opinions regarding anti-Semitic incidents are divided: 37.2 percent regard recent acts in Italy as mere provocations or jokes, while 47.5 percent as a sign of a dangerous increase in anti-Semitism. For 61.7 percent, these are isolated cases without Italy having a real anti-Semitism problem. At the same time, 60.6 percent believe that such incidents are the result of a widespread hate speech and racism.
The fascist Benito Mussolini ruled in Italy until 1945 – who led a dictatorship similar to that of the National Socialists under Adolph Hitler. One in five Italians – 19.8 percent – agrees that many Italians consider Mussolini to be a great leader who made only a few mistakes. 14.3 percent affirm the statement that Italians are not fascist, but love strong personalities.
There are similarly wrong views in other countries: According to a study by the Claims Conference, almost one in three Americans believed in 2018 that at most two million Jews were murdered during the Nazi era. In Austria, the proportion of Holocaust deniers fell from 15 to 5 percent at the turn of the millennium.