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Mussolini mistress diaries reveal rabid anti-Semite

Rome — Italian dictator Benito Mussolini was a rabid anti-Semite who called Adolf Hitler "a big romantic" and despised the pope, a new book of his mistress Claretta Petacci’s diaries revealed.

The Corriere della Sera daily published extracts of the book "Secret Mussolini," taken from diaries written between 1932 and 1938, on Monday two days before it hits Italian book shops.

While on a boating trip on August 4, 1938, fascist Mussolini talked about German dictator Hitler’s new anti-Semitic laws with his mistress, saying "I’ve been racist since 1921."

"I don’t know how they can think that I’m imitating Hitler, he wasn’t born yet… We must give Italians a feeling of race so that they don’t create half-castes, so that they don’t spoil what is beautiful about us."

Two months later, on October 11, Mussolini is again at sea with Petacci, when he talks to her about "Those bloody Jews, they should be destroyed, I’ll carry out a massacre like the Turks did."

"I’ll build an island and put them all there… They don’t even have any gratitude, recognition, not even a letter of thanks… They say we need them, their money, their help."

Mussolini’s regime was generally considered less ideologically rabid than that of Hitler, who created concentration camps to exterminate what he considered "inferior" people and races, including Jews.

On October 1, 1938, after the Munich Conference which gave Hitler a slice of Czechoslovakia, Mussolini tells his mistress that "the Fuhrer is very nice. Hitler is a big romantic at heart. When he saw me he had tears in his eyes. He really likes me a lot."

Diary entries also show Mussolini’s anger with pope Pius XI who said he was "spiritually close to all Semites" and called for Catholic marriages to Jews to be recognised.

"You can’t imagine the harm this pope is doing to the church. No pope has ever been so damaging for religion," Mussolini said, also railing against the idea that an Italian could marry someone of African origin.

Petacci also wrote about the two lovers’ passion for each other and her forgiveness of Mussolini’s lapses with other women.

"Yes my love, I’m wrong, especially given that I love you more and more and that I can feel that I need you more than anything else in the world," she wrote quoting her lover on February 19, 1938.

Mussolini took power in 1922 and was allied with Hitler during World War Two. He and his mistress were captured, executed and strung up upside down on a town square by Italian partisans in 1945.