Guarini Institute presents: "Hitler's Journey to Italy - May 1938"
On March 31 in JCU’s Aula Magna, the screening of a documentary directed by Piero Melograni entitled Hitler’s Visit to Italy -1938 took place. The event was hosted by the Guarini Institute for Public Affairs and despite the difficulty of the topic, the auditorium was full of JCU students, faculty, and many students from other universities who were eager to see this movie.
This film showed Italy’s shameful enthusiasm for one of the most notorious leaders in history, Adolf Hitler. Director of the film Piero Melograni stated before the film was played, “I saw Hitler with my own eyes in Naples when I was only seven years old…A film at times can say more than a book, this documentary is like an essay with images.”
The film documents Hitler’s seven day visit throughout Italy in 1938 accompanied by an entourage of five hundred people. During his stay, he visited Rome, Naples, and Florence and was always greeted by huge crowds of cheering Italians, enthralled by Mussolini, Hitler, and the fascist ideology. The documentary also reveals that only 1 in 20,000 Italian schoolteachers refused to pledge to fascism in school and only 1 in 1,000 university professors would not pledge.
Hitler was escorted by King Vittorio Emanuele III and Benito Mussolini to all the major sites right here in Rome including the Quirinale, Pantheon, Piazza Venezia, Colosseum, Ara Pacis, Villa Borghese, and the Diocletian Baths. As the film proves, Romans welcomed him with open arms, applauding him wherever he set foot and putting on folk dancing shows, theater productions, and military demonstrations.
The film was followed by a panel discussion among Professor Luca De Caprariis, Director Melograni, Professor Paul Arpaia, and Professor Federigo Argentieri. Argentieri expressed, “This film is extraordinary because it shows something few people know which is the enthusiasm to which Hitler was welcomed…it is not a popular documentary in Italian institutions.” Indeed, the film is an eerie reality check for many Italians, reminding them of the role they would playing in backing Hitler during World War II. Marynna Saatdjian, a junior at JCU stated, “I consider this film a lesson about how important it is to speak out against something, even if it is not popular or consequences may follow.”