Today in history: Salvation of Lybian Jews

Today in 1943, British forces occupied Tripoli, ending the Holocaust of Libyan Jews.

Libya became an Italian colony after being conquered from the hand of the Ottomans in 1912. Initially, the Italians regarded Libyan Jews as Italian citizens, but after Mussolini’s facist party came to power in the early 20s, their status deteriorated, even beneeth that of local Muslims. The rise of Nazism in the 30s and the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe prompted the Italian government to pass anti-Jewish racial laws that limited the freedom of movement and employment in the colony.

With Italy joining World War II in 1940, Libya became a front-line country in fighting against the British forces in Egypt; the racial laws were intensified, and many Jews were exiled from their homes to work camps with harsh conditions. The Italians did not do well in the fighting, and the German presence in Libya increased, leading to the exile of members of the Jewish community with foreign citizenship to labor and extermination camps in Europe. But in October 1942, the British finally defeated the Germans and Italians at the Second Battle of El Alamein, taking all of Libya within a few months. Nearly 700 Jews were killed, but thousands of others survived, and most of them immigrated to Israel afterwards.

Picture source – Wikipedia

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