In the morning of March 19th, 1936, Rabbi David Prato met in Rome Benito Mussolini, the "Duce". Immediately after, he went to the Vatican for an interview with Eugenio Pacelli, Secretary of State of the Vatican, and substitute Secretary of State, Domenico Tardini. His aim was to advocate the Polish Jews’ cause, against anti-Semitic demonstrations and the risk of such anti-Semitic policies as the ban of the ritual livestock slaugther. David Prato gave a detailed description of his visit to Rome in the chapter of his autobiography published here for the first time. Mario Toscano’s introduction, based on documentary material coming from public and private archives, refers to the activity of the Chief Rabbi of Alexandria (1927- 1936) and Rome (1937-1938, 1945-1951) in its historical context. The problems and difficulties of the time are thoroughly analysed by Toscano, whose introductory remarks to Prato’s chapter stimulate reflections about several crucial issues: the Mediterranean Policy of Fascism, the evolution of Fascist attitude toward Zionism, Jews and Antisemitism, the attitude of Catholic Church in front of totalitarian regimes, the growth of anti-Semitism in the second half of the Thirties.
Keywords: Catholic Church and anti-Semitism, Catholic Church and Zionism, David Prato, Jews-Catholics relations, Italian Jews and Fascist regime, Fascism, Zionism and anti-Semitism