The portrayal of the enemy in arms through war propaganda may constitute an incen-tive to fight and influence the soldiers’ emotional involvement in the war effort. These aspects become particularly clear in such an episode as the Italian campaign in Rus-sia, where the soldiers’ letters and diaries allow for an assessment of the level of polit-icization of the average soldier in a conflict that was presented and experienced as the ideological war par excellence. Voluntarism itself in that campaign represents a signif-icant element. The Eastern front, with its hard circumstances and negative exoticism, from "Mongolian" fighters to women soldiers, was the ideal hotbed for the develop-ment of an often legendary narrative about the enemy. This also led Italian soldiers to display, in active service, a self-justified violence, provoked by the presumed atrocities carried out by the "reds." Together with all these aspects, the author also tackles the issue of the recurrent claim, in the writings of soldiers and in military papers, that So-viets had an alleged tendency to surrender and desert, an image that was at the same time consistent and inconsistent with the official portrayal of the enemy.
Keywords: Italian campaign in Russia, Csir-Armir, wartime propaganda in World War II, war crimes, racism, Red Army