Piero Melograni, a historian who has written several books on Fascism and World War II, said the excerpts were "convincing in terms of the character that emerges and therefore the authenticity of the diaries."
He said the diaries appear to strengthen the notion of a strongly anti-Semitic Mussolini, as demonstrated by the 1938 laws and several speeches. But he said the personal quotes almost "humanize" him.
Another prominent historian, Giovanni Sabbatucci, said that while he has no reason to doubt the authenticity of the diaries, he is less sure of their historical significance because they might not reflect Mussolini's real thoughts.
"We must not forget that, even when authentic, we are reading what a mistress was writing about what her lover told her," he said in a phone interview.
Sabbatucci said that while there is no doubt that Mussolini had developed a strong anti-Semitism in the later years of his life, historians are split as to when these sentiments began. The diaries appear to show he developed them earlier rather than later, but Sabbatucci was doubtful.
"We must not take for granted that she correctly wrote what she was told. And we must not take for granted that what she was told was the truth and not some lover talk," said Sabbatucci, who teaches contemporary history at Rome's Sapienza University.
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