In the Name of the Cross: Christianity and Anti-Semitic Propaganda in Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany

Heated debate surrounds the question of the role Christianity and Christian churches
played in the Nazi and Italian Fascist demonization of the Jews. This talk brings to light
similarities and differences in the Nazi and Italian Fascist uses of Christianity in their efforts to
turn their populations against the Jews through examination of two of their most influential
popular anti-Semitic propaganda vehicles: La difesa della razza in Italy and Der Stürmer in
Germany. Both would mix pseudo-scientific racial theories with arguments based on Christian
religious authority, and both would present themselves as defenders of Christianity against the
Jewish threat. Yet there were also differences, linked to the different relations each regime had
with the Christian churches.


David Kertzer is the Paul Dupee University Professor of Social Science and Professor of
Anthropology and Italian Studies at Brown University, where he served as provost from 2006 to
2011. His book, The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara, published in eighteen languages, was a
finalist for the National Book Award for Nonfiction in 1997. He was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in
Biography in 2015 for his book The Pope and Mussolini, which also won the American
Historical Association prize for best book in Italian history.  Eleven foreign editions have been
published. He is past president of the Social Science History Association and the Society for the
Anthropology of Europe, and in 2005 was elected to membership in the American Academy of


Arts and Sciences. His most recent book, The Pope Who Would be King, on the Roman
revolution of 1848, was published in 2018.