In the context of the Nazi-Fascist occupation of Yugoslavia, this paper examines two parallel events that concerned Italy as an occupying nation: the "repressive" internment of Slavic civilians in Slovenian and Croatian areas; and the "protective" internment of Jews in Croatian areas annexed or submitted to Italian occupation. The paper analyses the establishment of Arbe/Rab. In 1943, Slavs and Jews were interned in two separate sections of the camp. The Slavs defined their experience as hell on earth, while the Jews saw it as a fortunate shelter. The first passed to history as one of the harshest episodes of Fascist persecution of minorities and war crimes, the second as an example of humanitarian intervention. Based on both witnesses and historiographical sources, this paper examines different types of internment practiced by the Italian Fascist regime in Yugoslavia: the repressive, the precautionary and the protective ones. Internment policies in Arbe, and the second occupation zone, and the treatment of some Jews as distinct from that of other groups of Slavs and Jews are analysed within three contexts: the policy of rejection of Jews at the Italian Croatian border; the creation of the clandestine Slovenian organization, Osvonodilna Fronta and its offspring, the Rabska Brigade, joined also by Croatian and Jewish internees; and the controversial death of Arbe’s commander.
Keywords: Arbe/Rab, Italian occupation, Yugoslavia, concentration camps, Slavs and Jews, Osvobodilna Fronta