Mussolini Jews Arabs
In the background is a letter written to her by Mussolini,
in which he reprimands her for using his name
and the name of Fascism to promote Novecento,
the artistic movement she championed.
By Saviona Mane ROME -
Everyone in Italy wanted to forget the "Duce's other woman":
the Fascists, because she was Jewish; their
opponents, because she was Fascist; and the family, because she became an embarrassing
historical burden. As a result, Margherita Sarfatti's story slipped out of the public
awareness, and along with it her central role in Italian fascism and the Duce's life.
Today, more than 60 years after the Fascist dictator was executed, Sarfatti's descendants prefer to view her as an intellectual and a patron of the arts, who worked to distanced Italy from the Nazi danger and was forced to flee to Argentina when Benito Mussolini implemented the race laws. They did not hear from her about the 20 years in which she shared Mussolini's doctrine and bed. Or about the 1,272 letters he wrote her in those years, and which disappeared. No, they are not in her private archive at her home at 18 Via Dei Villini in Rome. At least, that is what her granddaughter, Ippolita Gaetani, who is in charge of the archive, told Haaretz in an exclusive interview. An American cousin, who is also named Margherita Sarfatti, is convinced the letters are in the hands of the Rome cousin.
Many visitors have recently called at the luxurious building in Rome - journalists, researchers, writers ("Italian Night," by Nicole Fabre, a novel in which Sarfatti is a leading character, was recently published in France). It is a lavish patrician building in ocher, which is a three-minute walk from Villa Torlonia, the Duce's official residence - three minutes from the villa's back entrance, it should be noted. "The villa is being renovated," says a smiling young woman who is working in the courtyard, "but you can visit. Go around to the other side, it's worth it."
At the home on the Via Dei Villini in Rome, a gilded bell, a vast black gate, a double wooden door, an elevator in an ornate metal cage, a broad marble staircase. The door is opened by Ippolita Gaetani, a spare, blue-eyed woman of 66, who has a determined, no-nonsense manner. The apartment is spacious, sun-washed, and furnished with classical restraint. The documents and photographs of Grandmother Margherita are housed in one room, in the center of which is the "Holy of Holies": Sarfatti's desk. On the wall is a famous portrait of Sarfatti with her daughter Fiammetta, painted by Achille Funi. Next to it are shelves laden with her notebooks and diaries, and a chest with 12 huge drawers.
Before the interview gets under way, the hostess receives a phone call.
"I am being interviewed for an Israeli paper," she apologizes, and adds,
"No, no, the 'good' paper." Ippolita Gaetani and her two sisters, Sancia and
Margherita, are identified with the Italian left and are quite active on behalf of the
Ippolita was 21 when her grandmother died, in 1961, at the age of 81, but never asked her about her past, about her affair with Mussolini or her role in the Fascist movement. And Sarfatti, she says, never volunteered information on the subject. She talked about art,
Mussolini had many Jewish male and female friends.
Sarfatti, (discussed in the article above) and Balabanoff were lifelong female Jewish Mussolini associates/girlfriends.
Sarfattiis played by Susan Sarandon in the movie, "The Cradle Will Rock."
Angelica Balabanoffis depicted in the 1993 Italian movie "Benito." starring Banderas.
Mussolini, Jews, Arabs
Fri., August 25, 2006 Elul 1, 5766