The Italian national memory has still not come to terms with the responsibilities of Benito Mussolini's Italy for the Axis war of 1940 – 43, which Italy fought on the side of Nazi Germany. It has also not come to terms with the serious war crimes Italy committed in the occupied territories, especially the Balkans. Instead, a master narrative elaborated the positive stereotype of the “good Italian,” an opponent of war and a savior of the Jews, in contrast to the negative stereotype of the “evil German,” sadistic and brutal, onto whom the Italians shifted all the blame for the war. This essay analyzes the origin of these interwoven stereotypes, which were created by the Italian ruling class in order for the defeated nation to avoid a punitive peace and were subsequently spread by the mass media.

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