For the Defense of the Race: The Italian Racial Laws and the Persecution of the Jews under Fascism

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For the Defense of the Race: The Italian Racial Laws and the Persecution of the Jews under Fascism
Grodin, Edward
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Antisemitism ( jstor )
Fascism ( jstor )
Jewish culture ( jstor )
Jewish law ( jstor )
Jewish peoples ( jstor )
Nazism ( jstor )
Persecution ( jstor )
Racism ( jstor )
Social discrimination ( jstor )
War ( jstor )
Partito nazionale fascista (Italy)
Race discrimination
Undergraduate Honors Thesis


Beginning in the summer of 1938, Benito Mussolini's Fascist government introduced state-sponsored racism in the form of persecutory legislation. These laws were directed at Italy's Jewish population which had, up to 1938, enjoyed relative acceptance under Fascism. At times, Fascist racial legislation surpassed its Nazi equivalent in timing and scope, suggesting far more complicity for Mussolini's regime than is often considered. While their place in the overall Holocaust narrative has been underemphasized, Italy's racial laws caused significant hardship for Italian Jews of whom over eight thousand lost their lives at the hands of the Nazis between 1943 and 1945. Thus, Italy's racial laws seem far more independently envisioned and actively supported by the Fascist regime than previously assumed. ( en )
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Awarded Bachelor of Arts; Graduated May 4, 2010 summa cum laude. Major: History
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Advisor(s): Geoffrey Giles
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College/School: College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

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University of Florida
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University of Florida
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Copyright Edward Grodin. Permission granted to the University of Florida to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.


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For the Defense of the Race: The Italian Racial Laws and the Persecution of the Jews under Fascism Edward Grodin 1746 7995


Table of Contents Introduction 1 .3 Act I: A b i nitio (In the Beginning) 6 Informazione Diplomatic a ... 10 11 Act II: Le leggi razziali (The Racial Laws) Institutionalized Racism 1 5 Measures against Jews in S chools and Fore 1 7 ..... .. 20 Measures for the Defense of the Italian Race ... ... ................. ................................. ..... ...... 2 3 Expanding Persecution: 1939 .. 2 8 Act III: Gtterdmmerung (The Twilight of the Gods) ............. ..... .... 3 7 The Persecuted 4 1 50 Appendix: Chronological List of Major Fascist Legislation Bibliography


1 hink that I imita te Hitler, he was not born yet. They make me laugh. a sense of the race to Italians, so that they do not create mixed races, so that they do not 1 Benito Mussolin i to his mistress, Clara Petacci, on August 4, 1938 Introduction The story of the Jews in Fascist Italy can be best understood as a tragedy in three acts. In the first act ( ab in itio ) the Jews found themselves as equal participants in the emergence of a new political phenomenon, Fascism, whereby Benito Mussolini ( Il Duce ) rule d as the face of a triumphant return to the grandeur of the Roman Empire. Since the birth of the Italian nation state, Jews had enjoyed a political atmosphere that emphasized patri otism over all other considerations. As subjects in the thickening plot of twentieth century totalitarianism, Italian Jews had no reason to fear disproportionate subordination before the law. Even the rise of a regime nearby dead set on anti Semitic pers ecution did not faze Italian Jewry. on racial issues, as was the case especially in Ethiopia, the more precarious the situation of Italian Jewry became. After the publication of the Manifesto of Racial Scientists in mid That all changed within a matter of weeks. In the second act of the tragedy, the Jews of Italy were legally subjugated to the lowest rung of Italian social standing. Many suddenly turn on the Jews? The most obvious response for many was to blame it on the Nazis. However, the role of the Germans in the prom ulgation of Italian racial laws ( le 1 Clara Petacci, Mussolini segreto: diari 1932 1938 (Milano: Rizzoli, 2009 ), 393 (my translation)


2 leggi razziali ) remained minimal. Without a doubt, concerns regarding the strength of the Rome policies. Yet, the laws themselves do not ent irely match those of Nazi Germany. The For five years, between mid 1938 and mid framework and specific policies towards its own Jewish population. It systematically while allowing for select laws surpassed even those in Germany. Thi s attests to the best explanation of the sudden anti Semitic turn in Italy: Mussolini and the Fascist government actively and independently made the decision to oppress the Jews and pursued the legal action ne cessary to execute their plans In the third and final act, persecution gav e way to elimination. The five year crescendo of the racial laws led up to the collapse of Fascist Italy in July 1943. Far from signal ing the end of their suffering, the Jews of Italy were fast approach ing the climax of the tragedy. The Germans filled the power vacuum, bringing with them the European nightmare of the Gtterdmmerung ( t wilight of the g ods) With the Italian Social Republic established in Northern Italy as a German puppet government with Mussolini as its figu rehead the Holocaust found its way into Italy No Italian Jew living in the area under German control was immune from the deportations. The war in Europe ultimately ended in May 1945, taking with it the system of concentration and extermination camps th at systematically murdered approximately six million European Jews. Nearly nine


3 thousand were Italian Jews who had suffered unconscionable treatment at the hands of Thus, the Italian Jews experienced a three act tragedy under Fascism that began with hope, transcended into chaos and ended, like every epic tragedy, with death Up to 1938, t hey had lived unperturbed in Fascist Italy. Most preferred to consider th emselves Italians first and Jews second. self perception of the Jewish community within Italy. Reflections on these laws in Italy have been slow to materializ e, but recent publications indicate that Italian Jews are beginning to recount their encounter with Fascism. 2 While the language of the laws themselves remains crucial to understanding Fascist anti Semitism, scholars must now expand their research to embr ace emerging social histories. In combining the primary sources of Italian Jews and the main proponents of Fascist anti Semitism with the laws themselves the racial laws of 1938 seem far more independently envisioned and actively supported by the Fascist regime than previously assumed. A Brief Historiography persecution of its Jewish population remained outside of the annals of historical research. Then, in 1961, Renzo de Felic doors containing this history wide open. 3 Storia degli ebrei italiani sotto il fascismo known in its English translation as The Jews in Fascist Italy covers the entirety of Jewish 2 Beyond Imagination (1995), Child of the Ghetto (1995), Uncertain Refuge (1995), The Neppi Modona Diaries (1997), Bad Times, Good People (1999). Vic toria Ancona relive what happened, and partly because I was concerned that I may not be un ( Victoria Ancona Vincent, Beyond Imagination (Notting hamshire: Beth Shalom Ltd.,1995), ix) 3 Michael Ledeen, preface to The Jews in Fascist Italy : A History by Renzo de Felice, trans. Robert Miller (New York: Enigma Books, 2001), v ii.


4 existence under Fascism. In it, De Felice presents his thesis on Fascist anti Semitism which has withstood the test of time, with some tweaking: in his view, state sponsored anti had only 4 This willful choice, according to De 5 F or its time, such an argument suggested far greater historical culpability for Italy and overturned the common mythology that the Nazis imposed their ideology on the Fascist regime The book was destined to court controversy, and its publication unleashed a firestorm within Italy. seminal work on Italian Jewry under Fascism. For a long time, De Felice constituted the lone voice on the matter. No work since has contained the breadth and depth of historical fact finding. Other scholars began Meir Michaelis published Mussolini and the Jews: German Italian Relations and the Jewish Question in Italy 19 22 1945 in 1978, but the focus rested upon foreign relations and military developments, not on domestic policy. Michaelis reached the same basic Semitic legislation, though undoubtedly an Italian variant of political solidarity with the Third Reich, was not the result of direct German 6 4 Renzo de Felice, The Jews in Fascist Italy : A History trans. Robert Miller (New York: Enigma Books, 2001), 231. 5 Ibid. 6 Meir Michaelis, Mussolini and the Jews (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1978), vii.


5 external forces which he ar gued had affected the internal situation of Fascist Italy. Some time later, in The Italians and the Holocaust: Persecution, Rescue and Survival (1987), Susan Zuccotti discussed the racial laws but solely in terms of their relationship with the Holocaust, devoting a single chapter to their impact. Most recently, Michele Sarfatti has address ed watershed study. In (2006), h e contends and his regime bear greater respo 7 Moreover, for a few Jewish laws were more drastic and oppressive than the 8 Both arguments attest to the agency of the Fascist regime within the context of racial policy, a fact that has been underemphasized in the preceding historiography. These two assertions will also be the most pertinent for the argument laid out in the following pages of this paper. study will add the s Il libro della memoria (2002) that documents the most up to date numbers of Italian Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Additionally, it will addres s the growing amount of memoirs, diaries and other primary sour ces that have been published generally within the past twenty years. As such, the racial laws will be dealt with alongside the testimony of Italian Jews affected by them. active and independent undertaking in racial policy from 1938 to 1943, broadening the scope of legal, social and political factors which up to now have been somewhat limited. 7 Michele Sarfatti, The Jews in Muss trans. John and Anne Tedeschi (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press 2006), xi. 8 Sarfatti, x.


6 Act I: Ab in itio (In the Beginning) The Situation before 1938 The Jews of Italy represent one of It s oldest and most assimilated minorities. tal 9 They ha ve maintained a pres ence in Italy since the Roman period, acting as ambassadors to Rome in the signing of the Roman Jewish Treaty of 161 BCE. 10 The 313 Edict of Milan establishing Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire for the first time relegated Jews to t he second tier. In addition, the first Jewish ghetto in Europe was constructed in Venice in 1516. Up to the Napoleonic emancipation of the Jews in 1809, Italian Jewry suffered legal persecution at various points. The 1555 papal bull entitled most horrendous examples of religious persecution as exacted by the Papacy imposing strict limitations on the participation of Jews in Italian society However, t he unification of Ital y ( il Risorgimento ) in 1871 brought state tolerance and legal protections to the Jews, beginning the process of assimilation. Even the rise of Mussolini in October 1922 did not bring about an immediate change in the situation of the Jews. In fact, Jew highest levels of the fascist regime, as evidenced by Aldo Finzi (undersecretary of the Interior) an d Guido Jung (finance minister). 11 Jews supported the Fascists no more or less than their other 9 Stanislao Pugliese, ed., The Most Ancient of Minorities (Westport: Greenwood Press, 2002), 1. 10 For a comprehensive timeline of the hist (accessed January 6 2010). 11 Pugliese, 3.


7 Italian counterparts, with six hun dred party members before the March on Rome. 12 However, the coming to power of the Fascist regime placed expectations on Jews to trade the visibility of their religious practice for the secular religion of nationalism. 13 For the most part, Italian Jews had already done so The large percentage of intermarriage combined with low birth rates and conversions together produce d a relatively invisible minority. Italian Jews commercial, academic, and socia 14 Mussolini presented himself as unconcerned [a] 15 However, Giorgio Fabre argues that private anti Semitism predating Nazism. 16 With the accession of Hitler in Germany in 1933, Italian Jewry began to have reason to worry about the possibility of state sponsored anti Semitism The Nuremberg Law s of 1935 set a precedent for other European powers that want ed to pursue racial policies. Additionally, foreign policy considerations began to adjust the context of Fascist racism. In particular, the conquest of Ethiopia during the 1935 1936 Second Ital o Abyssinian War underlined the racial distinctions between the African natives and the white Italian soldiers. The inception of the Rome Berlin Axis in late October 1936 established a connection between the two regimes, including the potential for cooper ation 12 Sarfatti, 16. 13 See Sarfatti, 16 and Pugliese, 4. 14 Kate Cohen, The Neppi Modona Diaries (Hanover: University Press of New England, 1997) 13. 15 Emil Ludwig, Talks with Mussolini trans. Eden and Cedar Paul (Boston: Litt le, Brown, 1933), 73 74. 16 Giorgio Fabre, Mussolini razzista: dal socialismo al fascismo, la formazione di un antisemita ( Milano: Garzanti, 2005 ), 9 (my translation)


8 in areas of racial policy. As Fascist Italy became increasingly attached to Nazi Germany in diplomatic and policy terms, cohesion on r acial matters seemed to be imminent Inklings of the growing anti Semitism started to surface in press campaigns a s early as 1935. The main line of attack conflated Jews and Bolshevism. 17 More timeless depictions of Jews as wealthy, greedy schemers with pronounced noses, inflated lips, curly hair and beards 18 In Il Mito di Sangue ( The Blood Myth 1937), Julius Evola, a noted intellectual leader for accentuating the spiritual rather than the biological essence of Judaism. 19 Simultaneously, the Gli Ebrei in Italia in 1937 created a n ideological source from which Fascism could draw anti Semitic inspiration. Zionists and even Fascist J ews could not be trusted in regards to their loyalty to Italy sparked a frenzy of press reviews and responses which saw virulent anti S emites emerge from the woodwork including the writers for Il G 20 However, th e Italian people generally reacted unfavorably towards the attacks finding it difficult to connect their personal The Fascist regime thus decided that anti Semit ism had to be pursued on racial, not social or economic, grounds as 21 17 De Felice, 192. 18 Centro Furio Jesi, La menzogna della razza: documenti e immagini del razzismo e dell'antisemitismo fascista Imm agini e documenti / IBC, Soprintendenza per i beni librari e documentari, Regione Emilia Romagna, Assessorato alla cultura (Bologna: Grafis, 1994),150. 19 Jew in the Illustrated Fascist Magazine, La Difesa della Razza, 1938 Jews in Italy under Fascist and Nazi Rule, 1922 1945 ed. Joshua Zimmerman (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 139. 20 De Felice, 201. 21 De Felice, 206.


9 Selection of Pre 1938 Propaganda 22 1) 2) 3) 22 Centro Fur io Jesi, 149 150. What is distrust? What you need to have when If this war breaks out, how much can we earn? Half a billion. And how many men will die? Five million. One Dad, if one has 10,000 lira and lends it at three percent, what does he make?


10 Informazione Diplomatica n. 14 Mussolini broke his silence on racial matters o n February 16 193 8 when he n it, he decrie d anti 23 He affirm ed the desirability of the creati on of a Jewish state outside of Palestine as the solution to the Jewish problem Moreover, he acknowledge d the miniscule proportion of Jews within Italian society. H e maintain ed that the regulation of the Jewish community w ould remain unaltered, and no laws w ould be promulgated to deny the Jews of their political, moral and economic rights However, the Fascist regime reserve d the right to keep watch on the activities of Jews who have recently come to our country and to ensure that the role of Jews in the total life of the nation is not disproportionate to the intrinsic merits of individuals and to the numerical importance of In this first comment on the possibility of state sponsored anti Semitism, Mussolini remained on the one ha nd insistent on the good nature of his regime and on the other notably ambiguous in relation to the future. Renzo de Felice contends that the communiqu served as an attempt to prepare enial of impending action. 24 Furthermore, in his diary entry of February 15, Foreign Minister Galeazzo Ciano recounts his discussion with Mussolini about the publication of the doc ument during which Mussolini him self described iece of anti 23 Corriere della Sera February 16, 1938, Front page, second edition (my translation) Other translations can be found at De Felice, 261; Michaelis, 141 142; and partially at Sarfatti, 1 22. 24 De Felice, 260.


11 25 26 In addit ion, the lear 27 Clearly, the concluding remarks left open the possibility of an adjustment of the status of Italian Jewry to be subjectively determined by the government a foreboding vagueness that ultimately translated in to the racial laws The lasting legacy of Informazione Diplomatic a n. 14 lies in its relative isolation, as the Fascist government did not address the issue again until the publication of the Manifesto of Racial Scientists in July In the absence of official statements on the subject the within the Fascist government. 28 The Manifesto of Racial Scientists The five month lapse ended on J uly 14 with the publication of the Manifesto of Racial Scientists. In many ways, the document was a bombshell and represented a watershed moment in the develo pment of Italian anti Semitism. It signified the sudden introduction of racism to the Italian pu blic which had beforehand been unaffected by a racialized worldview. Though the manifesto appeared anonymously in newspapers, the PNF released the names of the signatories eleven days later The list consis ted of ten university professors under the guise of the Ministry of Popular Culture Sarfatti places the authorship with Guido Landra, one of the professors who signed onto the document. 29 25 Galeazzo Ciano, Diary 1937 1943, trans. Robert Miller (New York: Enigma Books, 2002), 58. 26 Petacci, 299 (my translation). 27 Michaelis, 142. De Felice points out, on page 261 of his book, that the inclusion of this specific l anguage was at the urging of Foreign Minister Ciano, which Ciano himself claims in his 15 February 1938 diary 28 De Felice, 263. 29 Sarfatti, 128.


12 According to Ciano, 30 In fact, de Felice not only by Mussolini but also by [Ministry of] 31 printed the ten Il Fascismo e la Razza (Fascism an The content clearly adhered to the racial theories in Nazi Germany while maintaining some distinct qualities. It is necessary here to quote the Decalogue in full: 1. Human races exist. 2. Large races and small races exist. 3. The concept of race is a purely biological concept. 4. The actual population of Italy is of Aryan origin and its culture is Aryan. 5. The contribution of great masses of men in historical times is a legend. 6. 7. The time has come for Ita lians to openly proclaim themselves racists. 8. A clear distinction must be made between the Mediterranean people of Europe (Occidentals) on one side, the Orientals and Africans on the other. 9. Jews do not belong to the Italian race. 10. The purely European physica l and psychological characteristics of the Italians must not be altered in any way. 32 The notion of biological racism had been largely absent from Italian thought p rior to the publication of the manifesto. echoe d the German belief in a pure race. However, the commentary that accompanied 30 Ciano, 109. 31 De Felice, 264 265. 32 Here I quote the translated text from D e Felice, 679 680. The text is widely available online and in print, in English and in Italian (for example, see Italy, La persecuzione degli ebrei durante il fascismo: le leggi del 1938 Ricerche e convegni (Roma: Camer a dei deputati, 1998 ), 111 113 ; Giovanni Codovini and Dino Renato Nardelli, eds., Le leggi razziali in Italia Materiali per la memoria, 1 (Foligno: Editoriale Umbra, 2003), 108 110; Alberto Cavaglion and Gian Paolo Romagnani, Le interdizioni del Duce: le leggi razziali in Italia Torino: Claudiana, 2002 ), 70 Il Giornale July 14, 1938 Front page ). one with obvious b iblical overtones that was used quite often in Germany as well. For example, the Nazis (Mary Elizabeth Nazi Cinema As Enchantment: The Politics of Entertainment in the Third Reich ( Rocheste r, NY: Camden House, 2004 ), 163) (Jewish Virtual Library, http://www.jewishvirtualli (accessed March 24, 2010)).


13 the first point departed from Nazi beliefs in the superiority of certain races over others. The only point to deal directly with the Jews, point nine, does not explicitly call for the marginalization or persecution of the Jews nor does it assert their inferiority in Points seven and ten un doubtedly act together as a call to arms for Italians to take the statements of the manifesto to heart. In th is way, the regime could As the dawn of an era of ideological and scientific platform for state sponsored anti 33 Around t his time, Ciano outlined 34 This phrase suggest ed that Mussolini did not want to pursue outright violence against the Jews in Italy as had been done in G ermany. However, domestic policy did not completely This move also reflected the changing landscape of Italian foreign policy which increasingly acted in accordance with the interests of the Rome Berlin partners hip. convince both the Germans and the Anglo French of his unshakable loyalty to the 35 ned of On the 25 th the Partito Nationale Fascista (PNF) issued a press release responding to the manifesto. The bulletin disclosed the ten professors involved in the 33 De Felice, 264. 34 1938, Informazione Diplomatica n. 18 in newspapers across Italy. An English translation of I.D. n. 18 can be found at De Felice, 682 683 (Document 18) and at Jewish Virtual Library, (accessed January 31, 2010). 35 Michaelis, 176.


14 drafting of the document and reaffirmed the Fascist regime term pursuit of racist policies. and dissemination of Fascist principles on the issue of in the year ahead 36 Cia 37 machine began to f 38 The previously secure Jewish community now found itself face to face with impending Fascist anti Semitism and exclusion from Italian society. 36 De Felice, 681 682 (Document 17). 37 Ciano, 112. 38 De Felice, 265.


15 Act II: Le leggi razziali (The Racial Laws) Institutionalized Racism Four days after the publication of the manifesto, a major shift occurred in the bureaucratic recognition of racial issues. The Central Demographic Office of the Ministry of the Interior became the notorious General Directorate for Demography and Race (DEMORAZZA), 39 This bureau would be aided by a High Council for Demography and Race. A second office at the Ministry of Popular Culture the Ufficio Studi e Propaganda sulla Razza also known as the Race Office, came into being in August to opaganda, and documentation related to the racial policies. 40 The creation of the biweekly La Difesa della Razza magazine on Aug and reflected 41 With DEMORAZZA under the control of the infamous anti Semite An tonio Le Pera, the Race Office headed by Guido Landra and Telesio Interlandi (director of the Fascist Federation of the Italian Press) at the helm of La Difesa della Razza the se establishments practical corollaries of the ra 42 In rapid succession, the Fascist regime created an institutional basis from which to launch its legal attack against the Jews. 39 De Felice, 265. 40 Sar fatti, 126. Also see Michaelis, 176. 41 building and war: The history of the Auf de m Weg zum m odernen thiopien eds. Stefan Brne and Heinrich S choller (Mnster: Lit Verlag, 2005), 137. 42 Michaelis, 165.


16 Alas, the Fascist government did not rest on its laurels in the development of state anti Semiti sm. As the main arbiter of racial policy, DEMORAZZA needed to collect statistics from which to direct the cour se of legislative efforts. On August 22 it carried 43 The final count ended on October 24 after which 58,412 people in the Kingdom of Italy were identified as a Jew to some degree. 44 had resided with in Italian territory for six months or more and were t herefore Furthe conglomeration of local religious organizations which were keeping acti ve records of Jews since November 1931 ). Only 37,241 of th e se somewhat less than 1.1 per thousand of Italy total 45 In the midst of the census, King Vittorio Emanuele declared that DEMORAZZA and the High Council would beco me official organs of the regime. Two royal legal decrees ( r egio decreto legge abbreviated as RDL ) issued on September 5, RDL n. 1531 and RDL n. 1539, established these institutions as the vanguard of Italian racism. Henceforth, they were tasked with tr implementation of measures with the High Council 43 De Felice, 265. Also see in Fascist Antisemitism and the Italian Jews eds. Robert Wistrich and Sergio Della P ergola (Jerusalem: The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1995), 29. 44 All statistical information used regarding the August 22, 1938 racial census was taken from Michele Liliana Picciotto Fargion gives further support for the number being 58,412 at Liliana Picciotto Fargion, Il libro della memoria: Gli Ebrei 1945 (Milano: Mursia, 1991), 793. Jonathan Steinberg notes the exceedingly high percentage of in termarriage unveiled in the census, placing the rate at around 43.7 percent. For further discussion, see Jonathan Steinberg, All or Nothing: The Axis and the Holocaust 1941 1943 (New York: Routledge, 1990), 223. 45 Sarfatti, 25.


17 definitively 46 The se governmental bodies toget her define d the status of the Jews under Mussolini Measures against Jews in Schools and Foreign Jews The first set of racial laws came to fruition after a meeting of the Grand Council on September 1 1938 As stated earlier, the institutions of Fascist racism were formally integrated into the government on September 5. That same day, RDL n.1390 aimed to all levels of The decree forbade the hiring of Jewish teacher s and professors, consideration for tenure and if they were included in the lists of competition 47 Furthermore, it suspended the service of current teachers, staff, and assistant or tenured p rofessors. Jews could no longer hold membership in professional organizations as well. Students who had already matriculated were permitted to complete their education. On September 23, RDL n. 1630 expanded the operation of Aryanization within elementa ry schools. 48 The main effect of this additional decree was to allow the construction of Jewish only, private primary schools with Jewish teachers who would instruct st udents using state textbooks. The responsibility of funding of such schools, however, f ell upon the local Jewish communities. Additionally, the law established special sections of elementary schools in localities where more than ten Jewish children lived. Teachers in these special sections could belong to the Jewish race. Lastly, t he legi slation tasked the Ministry of Education, as led by the vehemently anti Semitic 46 Codovini and Narde lli, 74 75 (my translation). 47 Camera dei Deputati, 121. See also Codovini and Nardelli, 67 68; Cavaglion and Romagnani, 75 77; Valerio Di Porto, Le leggi della vergogna: norme contro gli ebrei in Italia e Germania (Firenze: Felice Le Monnier, 2000), 16 4 166. 48 Codovini and Nardelli, 68 69. See also Di Porto, 166 167.


18 Giuseppe Bottai, with overseeing the entire process and approving the construction of the Jewish private schools 49 Through these two decrees, the regime reserved public educa tion in Fascist Italy 50 Mussolini expressed this aspiration for the social separation of [the Jews] but they must not take our bread. They must 51 As a highly assimilated group, Italian Jews, young children in particular, had difficulty separating from the social ties they had developed in the public schools. T he forced expulsion from school constitute for many Jewish students whose assimilation meant that religious and racial factors had not been considered important in forming friendships. 52 Victoria Ancona Vincent and Piera Sonnino both recount attending all Jewish school s the only option for Jewish children after the decree, until June 1939 when the government closed down the Jewish schools. 53 ost visible protest against the 49 even before the promulgation of the racial laws. His actions inclu ded conducting an internal census of its Jewish employees as well as a push for the distribution of the anti Semitic periodical, La Difesa della Razza in schools. See De Felice, 267 269. 50 Foreign university students were hit especially hard with th e effects of the legislation. Gian Paolo Brizzi outlines the fate of some 436 foreign students attending the University of Bologna, the Italian university latively semitism which had begun to emerge in the aftermath of the First ersecutory legislation represents the innate cruelty of these laws. For the complete story of these students, see Gian Paolo Brizzi, Bologna 1938: Silence and Remembering: The Racial Laws and the Foreign Jewish Students at the University of Bologna Pubbl icazioni dell'Archivio storico, 5 (Bologna: CLUEB, 2002), 11 27. 51 Petacci, 404 (my translation). 52 Sonia Brunetti and Fabio Levi, 1945 ed. Silvio Zamorani (Torino: Silvio Zamorani, 2002), 36. 53 Piera Sonnino, This Has Happened: An Italian Family in Auschwitz trans. Ann Goldstein (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), 37; Ancona Vincent, 8.


19 initiation of the legislative 54 With the focus on education, the Fascist government leg alized Jewish exclusion from a prominent aspect of the public sphere and attempted to sever long term Jewish participat ion in the life of the nation. Furt hermore, the timing revealed a critical measure on the generalized expulsion of the foreign Jews like the Italian one in September 1938 did not exist in Germany; analogously the expulsion of Jews from 55 W hile the decree calling for the expulsion of all foreign Jews from Italy was promulgated on September 5, 1938, similar (though not nearly as sweeping) action in Germany did not occur until late October 1938 with the expulsion of 17,000 Polish Jews. 56 Following Kristallnacht in Germany on November 9, 1938, the Nazi regime caught up to its Italian counterpart regarding the legal developments for public schools Je wish children in Germany were banned from public schools on November 15, 1938, over two months after the corresponding action in Italy. 57 Additionally, Michele Sarfatti notes that the same lag occurred when dealing with the limitations on ownership. 58 Thus at certain 54 Giorgio Israel and Pietro Nastasi, Scienza e razza nell'Italia fascista (Bologna: Il mulino, 199 8), 189 (my translation). 55 Collotti, Il fascismo e gli ebrei 2nd ed. explanation of the comparison, see Di Porto, 164. 56 October 28: 17,000 Polish Born Jews expelled from Germany to Poland; most interned at http://www1.ya 1938/1938/chronology_1938_14.html (accessed March 25, 2010). 57 1938/1938/chronology_1938_18.html (accessed March 24, 2010). 58 Jewish Racial Laws in Fascist Italy, 1938 Jews in Italy under Fascist and Nazi Rule, 1922 1945 ed. Joshua Zimmerman (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 7 4 on Race on October 6, 1938. At a meeting on No vember 12, 1938, Goering and other high ranking Nazis decided to impose harsh economic conditions on the Jews under the pretext of Kristallnacht. For a longer Jewish 1938/1938/chronology_1938_17.html (accessed March 25, 2010).


20 that Italy operated actively and independentl y in the realm of anti Semitic policy. The second provision arising from the September 1 Grand Council meeting dealt with foreign nationals. On September 7, RDL n. 1381 called for the expulsion of foreign Jews from the Kingdom of Italy, Libya and the territorial possessions of Italy (i.e. the Dodecanese Islands in Greece) 59 Moreover, it broadened to anybody who acquired Italian citizenship af ter January 1, 1919, thereafter revoking their citizenship rights. The decree gave foreign Jews six months to vacate the ntroversies that could arise in the Ministry of the Interior. Declaration on Race A month after the proclamation of the first tangible forms of Fascist anti Semitism the PNF made its stance on the matter public. De Felice outlines the editing process leading up the meeting of the Grand Council of Fascism during which the Dichiarazione sulla Razza (Declaration on Race) was finalized. He claims that Mussolini tried t e the impression of persecution from the oft 60 Yet, in private Ciano quote d Semitism is now inoculated in the blood of the It 61 59 Codovini and Nardelli, 25 26. See also Cavaglion and Romagnani, 77 78. 60 De Felice, 284. For three different versions of the Declaration throughout the editing process, including De Felice, 690 700 (Document 22). 61 Ciano, 139.


21 secret s peech he gave in front of the Grand Council of Fascism on October 25, stating 62 In addition, Clara Petacci 63 kill 64 As can be seen, t he rabid Mussolini behind these quotations does not match laws. The Declaration on Race of October 6, 1938 contained a number of provisions that addressed the status of those who fit into the category. According to the document, one belonged to the Jewish race if: 1) both and mother was a foreigner, or 3) one practiced Judaism even if born of a mixed marriage. 65 Children of mixed marriages who professed a religion other than Judaism were not considered of the Jewish race. Jews of unaddressed categories could not hold memb ership in the PNF, own large businesses, own large plots of land, or serve in the military. The so called discriminazioni (d iscriminations ) created exceptions to persecution for families of 62 Luigi Preti, Impero fascista: africani ed ebrei (Milano: Mursia, 2004), 290 (my translation). See also Cavaglion and Romagnani, 87 93. 63 Petacci, 420 (my translation). 64 Petacci, 422 (my translation). 65 I quote here the finalized version of the Declaration on Race as found in De Felice, 697 700 (Document 22(III)). The text of this particular version was the agreed upon language at the conclusion of the meeting of the Grand Council of Fascism. De Felice also provides two earlier versions of the document: o ne prepared by Mussolini himself (Document 22 (I)), and one presented to the Grand Council of Fascism (Document 22 (II)). See also Cavaglion and Romagnani, 78 82.


22 lies holding exceptional The Grand Council granted pensions to dismissed Jews who worked for freedom of religion, and the creation of private Jewish high schools. Moreover, the Grand Council accused worldwide Jewr y of hos tility toward Fascism and blamed Foreign Jews could no longer enter Italy, and those who were younger r 1, 1938 were forced to leave (as had been enunciated in RDL n. 1381). were henceforth Aryan Employees of public institutions and Fascist bureaucrats could not marry foreign women regardless of race. A number of points regarding the implications of the Declaration on Race must be De Felice points out the likely intervention of Italo Balbo (often a pro Jewish voice within the Fascist regime) on behalf of the Jews as e videnced by the inclusion of secondary education. 66 statements reflecting their own political views or, in some cases, give it a more or less 67 In addition, unification of earlier discriminatory legislation with promises of pensions for dismissed 66 in favor of the Jews during the Grand Council meeting while the other attendees favored harsher treatment (Ciano, 139). 67 De Felice, 285. RDL n. 1630 of September 23, 1938, had only allowed for the creation of private Jewish primary schools.


23 Jews and free practice of the Jewish faith. 68 For Sarfatti, t he publication of this document 69 It did not limit its discussion to Italy but instead attacked worldwide Jewry and international Zionism The blend of anti Semitism and xenophobia reflected f foreign Jews. Measures for the Def ense of the Italian Rac e As much as the Manifesto of Racial Scientists represented a bombshell in the development of Italian racism, the Measures for the Defense of the Italian Race obliterated any doubts about a formal anti Semitic policy under Mussoli ni. On its most basic level, RDL n. 1728 of November 17, 1938, translated the decisions of the Declaration on Race into the canon of Italian law. Yet, i approach to racial affairs in Italy. On a deeper level, the law was anything but a defensive maneuver. The language of the text signified active persecution that, while not inciting state sponsored violence against the Jewish community, sought to conclusively demote the Jews in Italy to second class citizenry. The decr ee was divided into three sections On 70 According ians could not marry or remain married to a person of a nother race on threat of a fine and jail time. Likewise, public servants, military personnel, and party members could not marry a foreign national. The state imposed harsh financial penalties on violators, even the religious representative 68 Charl The Jews of Italy, 1938 1945: An Analysis of Revisionist Histories (Jefferson: McFarland and Company Inc., 2007), 6. 69 Sarfatti, 129. 70 As RDL n. 1728 represents such an important document in the study of Fas cist anti Semitism, it has been found at De Felice, 700 705 (Document 23). For the Italian, see Codovini and Nardelli, 14 17; Camera dei Deputati, 1 22 124; Di Porto, 172 183. Le Leggi Della Vergogna is particularly useful here as it presents a side by side comparison of the Italian and German measures.


24 performing the ceremony. As can be seen, the measures relating to marriage exceeded the original scope of the Grand Council in their Declaration on Race. In the second section, limit the participat i on of Jews in Italian society. The definition as enunciated in the Declaration on Race was expanded. The regime would henceforth consider one Jewish 2) one parent was Jewish a was unknown, or 4) even one parent of Italian nationality was of the Jewish race, Jewish The law made an exceptio n for mixed marriages where the Jewish parent followed a religion other th an Judaism by October 1, 1938. Italian Jews as defined by Article 8 of the decree could not: 1) serve in the military, 2) maintain rights of guardianship for non Jewish minors or t he disabled, 3) own buildings with an assessable tax value of over twenty thousa nd lire. Parents could be stripped of their parental rights in relation to a non Jewish child if they instill ed values counter to the religious beliefs or the Fascist cause. Jews could no longer employ Aryan domestic workers. Furthermore, Jews w ere barred (by Article 13) from employment in the civil and military administrations, PNF, institutions related to state, local and municipal administration, banks and private insurance firms. Claims for the non members of veterans of foreign wars or the Fascist cause or those who were hurt and/or


25 decorated in a foreign war or in defense of the Fascist cause, PNF members between 1919 and 1922 and the second half of 1924 (after th e murder of Socialist politician Giacomo Matteotti) Legionnaires in Fiume, or those who had acquired exceptional The third section tied up loose ends regarding the situation of Italian and foreign Jews. The Ministry of Internal Affairs could gra nt exceptions for mixed marriages only in the case of foreigners of the Aryan race. Jews who did not register themselves with the regime were subject to arrest and fines. Affected e mployees were given three months to resign their posts. Article 20 grant ed pensions to dismissed state employees as well as those who fell into the categories of Article 13. Articles 23 to 25 restated the conclusion of RDL n. 1381 regarding the expulsion of foreign Jews. Finally, the document ended with an ironic twist where by the Fascist regime committed itself to maintaining the status quo regarding Jewish religious administration. In terms of legal language, RDL n. 1728 closely resembled the Nuremberg Laws promulgated in Nazi Germany on September 15, 1935 71 The first sec tion of both RDL n. 1728 and the Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor (R.G.Bl., I, 1146) and mor e ambiguous term Likewise, any marriage celebrated in violation of the measures was invalid. Unlike the Italians, the Germans took the restrictions one step further, forbidding extramarital interco urse between Jews 71 For a side by side comparison of RDL n. 1728 and the Nuremberg Laws (as well as othe r pertinent German laws), see Di Porto, 172 183.


26 and Aryans. 72 Article 12 of RDL n. 1728 matched § 3 of R.G.Bl., I, 1146 prohibiting the Italians and German enforced similar provisions. While RDL n. 1 728 did not attempt of the Reich Citizenship Law (R.G.Bl., I, 1333 of November 14, 1935) and Article 8 of RDL n. 1728 define d who belonged to the Jewish race. Ultimat ely, two of the most noteworthy difference s involved the issue of the Mischlinge (persons of mixed race) which the Italians did not address and the Italian inclusion of discriminazioni to conclude that s Semitic legislation was, compared to that of other countries, much less personally oppressive. 73 However, Sarfatti points out 74 Likewise, Zuccotti comments on the precarious nature of the 75 feature of Italian anti Semitism legislation, reflecting the degree of improvisation and 76 As a result, the 1938 racial laws as articulated in 77 72 it is no surprise that the issue of extramarital relations with Jews did not appear in the Italian racial laws. 73 De Felice, 240. 74 Sarfatti in Zimmerman, 72. 75 Susan Zuccotti, The Italians and the Holocaust (New York: Basic Books, Inc., 1987) 38. 76 Alexander Stille, Benevolence and Betrayal (New York: Summit Books, 1991), 75. 77 Sarfatti, The 125.


27 78 Sarfatti observes the same biological racism represented a sort of middle ground between the national racist tendency, inclined mainly to take into account the eventual national one eighth of Jewish blood, and the esoteric traditionalist tendency, according to which phobic approach so 79 The definition of the Jew remained murky as well. 80 In spite of the ambiguity and Italian specific nuances (especially t he discriminations), RDL n. 1728 ultimately tied the fate of Italian Jews to their unalterable biology. The propaganda resulting from the racial laws of 1938 expressed the idea that the Italian people were being saved from the Jews who sought to destro y Italy. Like the imagery from the year before, the 1938 propaganda relied heavily on the use of Jewish caricatures and stereotypes to convey their o Aryans and drum up support for the racial laws. One picture in particular, shown below encapsulated the general propaganda campaign in support of the laws. 81 Measures for the Defense of the Race and released on the same day as the passage of RDL n. 1728, the image shows a firm hand gripping scissors which are being used to cut the nails of a 78 De Felice, 331. 79 Nel nome della razza: il razzismo nella st oria d'Italia, 1870 1945 ed. Alberto Burgio ( Bologna: Il mulino, 2000 ), 322 323 (my translation) 80 The Most Ancient of Minorities ed. Stanislao Pugliese (Westport: Greenwood P ress, 2002), 205. 81 Centro Furio Jesi, 160.


28 stereotypical Jew who has been imprisoned The man exhibits all of the common features inherent in anti Semitic propaganda: large nose, scraggly beard, overweight, hairy, and wearing a suit (to emphasize his assumed wealth ). On eac h of the nails, a particular measure within RDL n. industry, the stock market. His cufflinks depict a Star of David and the Masonic Square and Compasses symbol of Fre emasonry, and his watch fob contains the Soviet Hammer and Sickle. The inclusion of this iconographic trio, representing the collusion of Bolshevism, Freemasonry and Judaism, became a reoccurring theme in Fascist propaganda throughout the war Expanding Persecution: 1939 1943 RDL n. 1728. Shortly thereafter, the Fascist government capitalized on the momentum of these measures to expand and enunciate the n ature and scope of racial persecution. The first legislative act to follow the November measures was RDL n. 2111 on December 22, 1938 calling for the forcible retirement of all Jews from the Italian armed forces. 82 Whereas Article 10 of RDL n. 1728 explic itly forbade military service in peacetime and in wartime, RDL n. 2111 removed all vestiges of the Jewish community within the Italian did not make exceptions for 82 Codovini and Nardelli, 54 58; Di Porto 201 207.


29 one in RDL n. 1728. However, s oldiers belonging to the Jewish race could maintain t heir rank as well as keep their uniform. They were also compensated according to the framework established under Article 21 of RDL n. 1728 concerning pensions of dismissed persons. Regardless, RDL n. 2111 sent the unambiguous signal to Italian Jews that they could not participate in the protection of their homeland. By the close of 1938, the Jews in Fascist Italy were stripped of many of their most basic rights and relega ted to the second tier of Italian citizenry. Up through the summer of 1939, t he regime inflicted further legalized suffering up o n the Italian Jewish population. RDL n. 126 of February 9, 1939 addressed the implementation of sections C through E of Arti cle 10 of the November legislation 83 These measures dealt with the restrictions on the possession of real property as well as commercial and industrial activities of Italian Jews. Arguably the most important consequence of RDL n. 126 was the creation of a new government entity known as the Agency of Real Estate Management and Liquidation, or EGELI. The government tasked EGELI with the collection of information related to Jewish real estate holdings. All real estate valued in excess of the total amount s et by Art. 10 § D of RDL n. 1728 had to be regist ered with EGELI for liquidation within ninety days of the passage of RDL n. 126. Ironically, section IV of RDL n. 126 laid out a process of compensation whereby Jewish property owners would receive credit f or liquidated real estate. Additionally, this legislation prohibited Jewish ownership of corporations dedicated to national defense or employing over one hundred workers along the lines of Art. 10 § C of RDL n. 1728. These businesses were to be rapidly d ivested, leaving both the employ ers and employees without jobs. 83 Codovini and Nardelli, 35 52; Di Porto, 210 232.


30 Following the passage of the preceding laws, many Italian Jews were faced with the total collapse of their livelihoods. Simultaneously the Fascist government sought ever more invasive wa ys to expand their operation of Aryanizing Italian society. The next step in the process emerged in the form of RDL n. 1054 of June 29, 1939 regulating the exercise of certain professions. 84 This law clearly targeted Jews who held positions of high status in Italian society. comparatively better than their non discriminated counterparts. Non discriminated Jews were placed on a t non J ews over Jews for cases of demonstrable necessity and urgency 85 In addition, section IV of the law forbade Jews from participating in their respective professional associations. De Felice asserts that t he focal point of the legislation rested on t he specific prohibition on notary and journalist positions for Jews. 86 Jews could be granted an exception for a journalism career but could not be a notary under any circumstances. As notaries serve at the discretion of the state, the Fasc ist government expressed their unequivocal desire to sever any relationship with Italians Jews. relation to labor. In a rather short law, the Fascist government followed their a nti labor activities with an even more personally invasive stance on family matters. RDL n. 1055 of July 87 In relation to testamentary and succession concerns, this law nulli fied the condition whereby 84 Codovini and Nardelli, 29 33; Di Porto, 233 248. 85 Codovini and Nardelli, 32 (my transla tion). 86 De Felice, 334. 87 Codovini and Nardelli, 52 53.


31 the recipient of an inheritance had to affirm their Jewish faith if so directed by the deceased. Regarding surnames, non had changed their own surname to another that did not rev 88 Finally non Jews who [i.e. Jewish 89 The fact that the issue of surnames even necessitated a legal discussion in the eyes of the Fascists undoubtedly acted as an acknowledgment of broad Jewish assimilation and revealed the November measures un der RDL n. 1024 of July 13, 1939 90 T he law decreed that the judgment was ech oed by a special commission. 91 Moreover, the Ministry of the Interior commission itself worked under the auspices of Ministry of the Interior. terms, this addition to RDL n. 1728 essentially allowed the Ministry of the Interior to declare the racial laws null and void for certain people at its discretion. De Felice argues who were 88 Codovini and Nardelli, 53 (my translation) 89 Ibid. 90 Di Porto, 197 198. 91 An extremely similar situation occurred in Germany whereby the Nazi Bureau of Race Research could bestow the titl Aryan race. However, there is a see Bryan Mark Rigg, Hitler's Jewish Soldiers: The Untold Story of Nazi Racial Laws and Men of Jewish Descent in the German Military (Lawrence, Kan: University Press of Kansas, 2002).


32 92 T 93 Ultimately, the law only served to undermine the biological racism, instead symbolizing the inherent political and moral corrupti on of the Fascists and Fascism as a political system. The law, and even racial doctrine itself, could thus be bent at will to meet the opportunistic needs of those in power. s of Without a doubt, the isolation that the Fascist government imposed upon the Jewish population aimed to gradually erase Judaism from the ranks of Italian society. In fact, on February 9, 1940, shortly before Italy entere d the Second World War, Mussolini himself unambiguously declared to the president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities that in a matter of time Italy would become like s enza ebr ei judenfrei without Jews. 94 After two tumultuous yea rs with an ever growing list of restrictions on its Jewish population, Italy entered the Second World War on June 10, 1940 on the side of its Axis partner, Germany. It is not within the scope of this study to analyze the military developments of Fascist Italy. Suffice it to say that Italy entered a war that it was ill equipped to fight and the machinery of Fascist bureaucracy continued to churn in a persecutory fashion alongside warfare concerns after June 1940. On April 19, 1942, a nearly three year p ause in new racial laws came to an abrupt end with the dissemination of RDL n. 517. 95 Within the context of the Second World War, this law seemed rather misp laced. However, RDL 92 De Felice, 335. 93 Ibid. 94 Israel 31, n. 8 (18 October 1945), quoted in Sarfatti, 145. 95 Di Porto, 257 259.


33 n. 517 translated into law an earlier DEMORAZZA initiative from June 18, 1940. 96 The provisions of the law were rather straightforward: all Jews, discriminated or not, were barred from the show business indus try in any way, shape or form. Lists were to be compiled o f Jews already in the industry. Also, the title of the law referre 1942 also saw the introduction of mandatory labor service for Italian Jews. The order came directly from DEMORAZZA with the implementation of the laws. 97 In a sserting itself as the principal office of anti Semitic policy, DEMORAZZA imposed physical persecution for the firs t time in the scope of the Fascist racial laws. On May 6, it disseminated the order to mobilize Jews specifically for manual labor. The order established a ranking of those to be chosen first: Jews who were of legal age for military service between 1910 and 1922 but were barred from service by the racial laws, then manual laborers and the unemployed, then those in 98 De Felice conte n d s that the inception of draft 96 Di Porto, 257. circolare (newsletter) activity in the sector of show business. 97 De Felice, 348. 98 A memo dated August 5, 1942, reproduced at De Felice, 722 (Document 30), laid out the structure of the draft labor service. It is interesting to note that Jews were specifically barred from working with non Jews for any job.


34 99 While these motives may explain the politics behind the decision, draft labor stood as yet another example of the Fascist regime forcing Italian Jews into another scheme aimed at disrupting their freedom and most basic protections The last major law to address the rights o f Jews conformed to the type s of concerns that arose during wartime. In the midst of the North African campaign, specifically the Western Desert campaign that took place in Libya and Egypt between June 1940 and February 1943 wn away from domestic affairs towards the international arena. Italo Balbo, the Fascist Governor of Libya and Commander in Chief of Italian North Africa who often defended the Jews, had successfully persuaded Mussolini from pursuing harsher measures again st Libyan Jews, 100 Though Balbo died in June 1940, Mussolini acquiesced until reports of Libyan during the Axis retreat from Cyrenaica emerged in early 1942 101 W hen the Italian army regained control of the and sometimes execution, of thousands of Libyan Jews. 102 Cons equently, Mussolini jumped on the opportunity to extend the racial laws of metropolitan Italy to Libya. On October 9, 1942, the Fascist government promulgated RDL n. 1420 regarding the Libyan Jews. 103 ad hoc law that resulted in some more severe clauses and some less rigid clauses than those in force in the 99 De Felice, 359 and therefore did not have to risk their lives in t he war. Draft labor would, as the reasoning goes, show that Jews were participating in the hardships of war and ironically quell some level of jealousy. 100 De Felice, 364. A letter from Italo Balbo to Mussolini is reproduced in full, but no citation i s given. 101 Giuseppe Gorla, pg. 286, at the date of February 7, 1942, quoted in De Felice, 365. 102 Michaelis, 293. 103 Di Porto, 265 276.


35 104 Fundamentally this law represented a Libyan version of RDL n. 1728 of November 1938. In its broadest sense, however, RDL n. 1420 s ymbolized the of nearly all the racial laws up to 1942 into a single text. While its structure and overarching measures mirrored RDL n. 1728, it did maintain elemen ts specific to the Libyan context. Firstly, the law outlined a new definition of those belonging to the Jewish 105 It stipulated three main categories of Jews: 1) practicing Jews those registered in a Libyan those born to parents or at least a father of the Jewish race, unless the person profess ed the Islamic faith before January 1, 1942, and 3) thos e born to a J ewish mother and father of unknown race unless the person professed the Islamic faith before January 1, 1942. In relative terms, Libyan Jews wer e thus judged as much, if not more, on religious rather than biological grounds that had been the case in mainland Italy. The remainder of the law extended to Libya most of the restrictions placed upon Italian Jews. Libyan Jews could not serve in the military, as tutors or as caregivers of the disabled or non Jewish children. The law placed limita tions on the ability of Jews to engage in the economic life of Libya similar to those in RDL n. 1728 and created a Libyan version of the EGELI. Jewish professionals were subject to the provisions in been done in Italy in September 1938. In addition to the restrictions on Aryan maids in the November 1938 measures, Libyan Jews could not employ Muslim domestic workers. Regarding names, 104 Di Porto, 265 (my translation). 105 Ibid.


36 t hey had to reassume their Jewish surname if it had been changed and in an even more non Jewish names upon their 106 Furthermore, Jewish publications w ere essentially forbidden, and no new Jewish communities could be established. Finally, Libyan Jews could apply for discriminations according to the framework instituted in RDL n. 1728 of November 1938. 106 While it required the resu resembled the Second Decr ee for the Implementation of the Law Regarding Changes of Family Names of August 17, 1938 in Nazi Germany forcing Jews to take the middle name Israel or Sara.


37 Act III: Gtterdmmerung (The T wilight of the Gods) sterminio The Western Desert Campaign came to an end in February 1943 with an Allied victory, rendering RDL n. 1420 essentially dead on arrival. The good fortune of Libyan Jews, however, did not carry through fo r their Italian counterparts. The Allies landed in Sicily during Operation Husky on July 9, 1943, foreshadowing the coming invasion of mainland Italy. In anticipation, both the Italians and the Germans began their preparations. On the German side, the i 107 cupy and control the defence and domestic politics of the Italian 108 For the Italians, the final meeting of the Grand Council of Fascism on July 24, and the first since the beginning of the war, 109 At the meeting, the leading Fascists voted overwhelming al powers and, in doing so, delivered a vote of no confidence against Mussolini. By then, the King had already made his decision to replace Mussolini with Marshal Pietro Badoglio, signifying eriment with Fascism. The Italians, now led by Badoglio, signed their armistice with the Allies on September 3 and it was officially announced to the public on September 8. With the war Semitic legislation in place 8. 110 107 Steinberg, 141. 108 Steinberg, 142. 109 Steinberg, 145. 110 Sarfatti, 175.


38 111 Howe ver, the terms of the removed. 112 Regardless, m any Jews understood the likely German invasion and fled southward for Allied occupied areas. In fact, on September 12, the Germans succeeded in a rescue operation to retrieve Mussolini from a prison in the mountains of Central Italy. On September 23, the infamous Repubblica Sociale Italiana (RSI) a lso known as the Republic of Sal, was proclaimed, covering Northern and Central Italy and setting the 113 The first of i convogli (deportations) did not even wait for the RSI. Accor ding to the data compiled by Liliana Picciotto Fargion in her important work on the Italian deportations, Il Libro della Memoria the first train left for i campi di sterminio (extermination camps) on September 16, 1943. 114 Perhaps the best known transport took place on October 16, 1943 when the Germans rounded up the Jews of Rome. Giacomo Germ an intentions. 115 However, from the German perspective, the Jews of Italy were 111 Pietro Badoglio, Italy in the Second World War: Memories and documents, trans. Muriel Currey (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1948), 62. 112 Yale Law School, The Avalon Project : Documents in Law, History and Diplomacy (accessed January 29, 2010). 113 De F elice, 430. 114 Fargion, 42. 115 Giacomo Debenedetti, The Sixteenth of October 1943 and Other Wartime Essays (Market Harborough, Leics, UK: University Texts, 1996) 9.


39 116 Unlike the discriminazioni of the Fascis t racial laws, the deportations contained no exemptions; all Jews who fell into the hands of the Nazis were sent to the camps. Italian racial policy did not retain its nuances and independent nature under the RSI, instead becoming little more than a carbo n copy of Nazi Germany. With the deportations officially underway in Italy, the issue of Jewish material possessions arose. in the form of Decreto Legislativo del Duce ( DLD) n. 2. 117 The terms of this law presented a much harsher legal and financial landscape for not yet detained Jews under the Republic of Sal than they had even faced up through 1943. Jews were strictly forbidden from the ownership of any business, land or building, and could not hold the office of manager or mayor. Furthermore, they had to forfeit any financial securities and could no longer possess titles, assets, debts or rights of partnership. The powers of EGELI, the agency that dealt with the liqu idation of real property, were expanded to cover the new confiscations resulting from this law. In the case of indebtedness, a Jewish individual was not allowed to repay the debt if the debtor was Jewish as well. The law also voided any transactions deal ing with real property after November 30, 1943. Profits made off of the liquidated holdings were funneled back into the government to cover arsh penalties were imposed on not only those who did not declare their debts, property or other assets, but also anybody who conspired to help conceal these facts. 116 Debenedetti, 10. 117 Di Porto, 277 284. The acronym DLD is used here instead of RDL to signify that the law is not a Il Duce of the Italian Social Republic.


40 March 1944 he decided to establish a new agency in the RSI to continue the work of the infamous DEMORAZZA, known as the General Inspectorate for Race and Demography. 118 Semites, presided over the General Inspector ate as Chief Inspector for Race and made it his personal mission to instigate the elaboration of new [racial] laws on the themes that he found very important 119 Two of his legal drafts, printed as Document s 37 and 38 in De extend the scope of persecution in the RSI. His draft of a legal 120 It presented the narrowest possible definition of Jews and pledged to revoke any status t hat deemed somebody a non Jew (resulting from RDL n. 1024 of July 13, 1939). Procreating in the case of a mixed race relationship would second legal draft specifical ly regarding the Jews recapitulated the limitations on rights in RDL n. 1728 of November 1938 and augmented them to a more severe level while still maintaining the framework of discriminations. er 118 De Felice points out that the decision to create the Inspectorate General for Demography and Race was not made independently by Muss olini. Giovanni Preziosi had issued a memorandum, which he sent to both Mussolini and Hitler, in which he quoted Mein Kampf to say that a constitution for the RSI would not go far enough towards the elimination of the Jews. As a result, Mussolini had to choose between breaking with Hitler and succumbing to an enhanced racial campaign. De Felice argues that Mussolini wanted to 744 (Document 36) reprodu ces the memorandum in full. For more information on the decision, see De Felice, 439 440. 119 1945 Giovanni Preziosi e la questione della razza in Italia: atti del convegn o di studi, Avellino Torella dei Lombardi, 30 novembre 2 dicembre 2000 eds. Luigi Parente, Fabio Gentile, and Rosa Maria Grillo ( Soveria Mannelli: Rubbettino, 2005 ), 274 (my translation) Also see Sarfatti, 190. 120 De Feli ce, 441.


41 his laws. 121 However, Mussolini was not receptive to his propositions, and nothing was On April 25, 1945, the Republic of Sal collapsed under t he pressure of Allied advances and the successful tactics of the partigiani Three days later, Mussolini, his mistress Clara Petacci and a number of Fascist functionaries were captured, killed and hung upside down outside of a gas station in Milan. H itle r committed suicide on April 30, with the war in Europe ending on May 8. In total, f orty three transports had taken place between September 1943 and February 1945. 122 Most of the deported Jews stopped first in transit camps then were taken to four principl e locations: Auschwitz, Ravensbr ck, Buchenwald, and Flossenb rg. 123 The largest number of deportees from a single city came from Rome (1,680 people) and the overwhelming majority ended up in Auschwitz (5,951 people). 124 In the end, Liliana Fargion places th e total number of deaths of Italian Jews and Dodecanes i ( people from the Greek archipelago of Dodecaneso which the Italians had occupied since 1912) at 8,869, of which 8,566 resulted from deportations. 125 The Persecuted In the final judgm ent of the laws, it is necessary to turn to the voices of the affected. Behind the cold irrationality of Fascism lies a trail of s tories waiting to be told. For many decades, Italian Jews, even those who suffered at the hands of the Fascist 121 De Felice, 442. 122 Fargion, 93. 123 Fargion, 89. 124 For the number of deportations by city, see Fargion, 29. For the ultimate destination of the deportees, see Fargion, 32. 125 Fargion, 26.


42 government, kept quiet and tried to forget or ignore what had happened 126 However, the racial laws objectified the Jewish population in Italy, and to describe cause (the laws) without effect (suffering) would be tantamount to a historical cover up. The re subjectifi Iael Nidam Orvieto argues that two factors have suppressed a greater outpouring of stories: feelings of collective guilt related to early support for Fascism, and lingering problems of comparative suffering (i.e. viewing the racial laws as less impactful when compared to the systematic murder that took place between 1943 1945). 127 Even historians have genocid al rage of Nazi Germany. 128 Within the past twenty years, as was the case regarding Holocaust testimony in general, there has been a steady growth of publications dealing with the Jewish experience in Fascist Italy. As some of those voices are beginning to be heard again, historians must now integrate them into the overall story of Fascism and the Holocaust As stated before, much of the problem underlying recollections of the racial laws memoir, Bad Times, Good People illustrates such concerns but in comparison to the German experience He grew up in Germany with only his mother, living through the ascendency of Hitler and the Nuremberg Laws. H e was imprisoned for a time in Dachau unti l orders came for his release when he was told to leave Germany within six months. Realizing the ever 126 Je The Jews of Italy: Memory and Identity eds. Bernard Cooperman and Barbara Gavin (Bethesda: University of Maryland Press, 2000), 409. 127 Iael Nidam Jewish Legislation on Everyday Life and the Response of It alian Jews, 1938 Jews in Italy under Fascist and Nazi Rule ed. Joshua Zimmerman (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 158. 128 Levi in Cooperman and Gavin, 401.


43 present danger, he and his mother fled to Italy. They ultimately survived, hiding out in Milan under assumed names during the war Despite his good fo rtune, his discussion of the racial laws remains problematic. 129 In fact, there is plenty of evidence to the contrary, most recently, as has been shown, in the diary mistress Clara Petacci. Wolff also incorrectly claims that Germany, Italy and Japan signed the Pact of Steel by 1938 when in fact it was signed May 22, 1939. To the po Jewish laws on the books, but these had mostly been enacted by Mussolini to placate Der F hrer and their enforcement was spotty at 130 Aside from the insulting understatement, such an apologia for the actions of Muss olini and his regime has been shown to be factually inaccurate. Worst of all, he taly from 131 As has been shown, the Fascist regime passed persecutory legislation well after 1938 and foreign Jews were explicitly forced to leave Italy. Benevolence and Betrayal offers five windows into the world of Italian Jewry during that show the enormous consequences of the racial laws The story of Ettore Ovazza holds a particular resonance for its exa mple of an ardent Fascist Jew who ascribed to the visions of grandeur for a new Roman Empire. A veteran of the First 129 Walter Wolff, Bad Times, Good People (Long Beach: Whittier Publications, 1 999), 3. 130 Wolff, 3. 131 Ibid.


44 World War and founder of the newspaper La Nostra Bandiera Ettore used his 132 Rather than accuse Mussolini of inciting anti Semitism, he laid blame on the Zionists, going so far as to burn down one of their offices. mere tactical maneuver that 133 In fact, with Jewish membership in the PNF registered at over 10,000 in 1938, he represented a rather large contingent of upper middle 134 He convinced the Turin Jewish Community to publicly accept the racial laws as a on Race and the allowance of discriminations, Ettore felt optimistic that a distinction had been made at the official level between Fascist and anti Fascist Jews. However, the 135 The Ovazzas had to sell the ir family bank and leave he stayed behind until his death at the hands of the SS in 1943, insistent to the end on his Italianit Likewise, Carla Pekelis outl ines her situation as an Italian Jew who grew up more Italian than Jewish but ultimately collided with the fateful racial laws. In My Version of the Facts Carla discusses a childhood of assimilation into predominantly Catholic, question of things that I did not do [i.e. religious rituals with 132 Stille, 21. For an in depth study of the work of Ett La Nostra Bandiera see Luca Ventura, Ebrei con il du 1934 1938 (Torino: Silvio Zamorani, 2002). 133 Ibid. 134 Stille, 22. 135 S tille, 77.


45 136 with a distinctly strong, Jewish identity. 137 She continued to live a secular married life with little regard for the Jewish faith and had just begun to establish a home with three children when the Manifesto of Racial Scientists shook the status quo According to Carla, the sudd en introduction of the racial laws in 1938 w as perceived by her Italian Jewish friends as bewilderme nt to perplexity to indignation. 138 Furthermore, her Jewish friends looked toward the big picture versus the individual laws, believing that 139 by the laws. I n her particular situation, RDL n. 1381 of September 7, 1938 called for the expulsion of foreign Jews residing in Italy, which included her Russian born husband. At first, Carla staye d with the children in Florence while her husband fled to Paris. However, with the promulgation of more laws and the fear of permanent separation, she left Italy and reunited with her husband in France. 140 Child of the Ghetto provides a very lucid account of a Jewish childhood under Fascism. She grew up in Pitigliano, a small town in Tuscany 136 Carla Pekelis, My Version of the Facts trans. George Hochfield (Evanston: North western University Press, 2004), 22. 137 Pekelis, 53. 138 Pekelis, 66. 139 Ibid. 140 With the fall of France in June 1940, Carla and her family fled west. They man aged to enter Spain and continued to Lisbon, Portugal, where they stayed for many months in a hotel. Ultimately, they were able to immigrate to the United States.


46 community. In one instance of early ant i Semitism during the summer of 1937, when the Italian press initiated an anti Semitic campaign, the mother of her piano teacher 141 Edda used this as an opportunity to understand the hi storical implications of the term il ghetto and gained a newfound appreciation for her heritage. During her bat mitzvah she noted that assimilation stians. 142 143 144 Edda was forbidden from attendin g public of her initial excitement at the prospect of a perpetual summer vacation, her elation quickly turned to humiliation when her friends returned to school. Mor eover, when the discriminations were ultimately ended a few months later Edda had to essentially become a full 145 From the perspective of a child, the totality of the laws may not have be en completely understood, but they signified a clear rupture between relative assimilation and social isolation. Similarly, Victoria Ancona Vincent recounts her teenage years in Milan under the racial laws but with a very different trajectory. In Beyon d Imagination Victoria 141 Edda Servi Machlin, Child of the Ghetto ( Croton on Hudson: GiRo Press, 1995 ), 75. 142 Machlin, 79 80. 143 Machlin, 83. 144 Margherita Marchione, Yours Is a Precious Witness: Memoirs of Jews and Catholics in Wartime Italy (New York: Paulist Press, 1997), 95. 145 Machlin, 88


47 describes her early childhood as one of constant movement: from Jerusalem, to Brussels, to Alexandria, and ultimately to Milan. However, her arrival to Milan in 1938 was met with the sudden introduction of the racial laws. Her fam and she had to leave public school. She attended a private Jewish school until June 1939 when the Fascist regime shut down all Jewish educational institutions. She felt that the found ourselves without the possibility of 146 Moreover, her being comfortably well father unable to operate a business or find employment. 147 to write a letter to Mussolini pleading for him to revoke the racial laws. In a rather interesting turn of events, she was called down to the local police sta tion where the 148 She then managed to acquire an undocumented job at a book store owned by two partigiani for whom she delivered covert message s related to resistance activities until the fall of the Fascist government She was caught and imprisoned in Milan until May 15, 1944 when she was transferred to the Fossoli transit camp at Modena. The Nazis brought Victoria to Auschwitz where she was f orced to perform hard labor until the evacuation of the camp on January 18, 1945. She survived the subsequent death march only to be taken to Ravensbrck a few days later. Between the beginning of February and the end of April, the SS transported her to various minor 146 Ancona Vincent, 8. 147 Ibid. 148 Ancona Vincent, 10.


48 camps. However, she ultimately escaped and managed to return to Milan with the help of Allied soldiers. Uncertain Refuge represents the Italian equivalent of Steven entirely of interviews with Italians who lived through the racial laws and ultimately the Nazi occupation of Italy. With nearly seventy differen t accounts, Uncertain Refuge offers as many differing views of Fascism and its encounter with Nazism. As such remains one of the most significant windows into the situation of Italian Jews under Fascist, and later Nazi, rule. The focus of the book remains on the precarious situation of ablishment of the Republic of Sal, and many recount stories of protection by indiv idual Italians from the Nazis. However, the subject of the racial laws arises many times during the interviews. ability to convey stories from people of different ages, backgrounds and memories of Fascism. Emilio Foa explains how he suddenly had to leave his school when he was twelve but that he made marginal by 149 Guido Lopez and Anna Marcella Tedeschi, both children at the time, remembered being expelled from public school but especially felt the social isolation that resulted from the abandonment of their Christian friends. 150 Attorney Massimo Ottolenghi tells the story of how he was refused a marriage license with his fiance because their offspring would be racially inferior (he was half Jewish 149 Caracciolo, 70 150 Caracciolo, 93.


49 while she was three quarters Jewish). 151 Attorney Bruno Segre r ecounts an almost ironic situation whereby his baptized brother was declared Aryan while he, not professing any religion, got labeled as belonging to the Jewish faith. 152 Finally, Elisa Della Pergola g the racial laws. Her father, a surreptitiously until 1943. 153 These are but a few examples of the stories that have reached th e public record. The Garden of the Finzi Continis these narratives elucidate what has been up to now a historical subplot. They illustrate many of the practical effects of the racial legislation on the e veryday lives of Italian Jews. As can be seen, most of these memoirs have been written by those who were children at the time and are skewed towards their somewhat limited his is not to say that they did not comprehend the consequences of these laws, but merely that firsthand accounts of the effects f rom the perspective of an adult, those hit hardest by the laws on employment, marriage and other rights, would help historians better understand the totality of Fascist racism. To this end, historians must reconstruct the era of Mussolini with particular care for the people behind the numbers who cannot convey their suffering posthumously. Perhaps Fabio Levi puts it best e end one was dealing with a true and proper 151 Caracciolo, 100. 152 Caracciolo, 115. 153 Caracciolo, 129.


50 154 Conclu s ion Italian President Giorgio Napolitano claimed 155 In some ways, this statement represented a bit of hyperbole. On the one hand the Republic of Sal was clearly a puppet government of the Nazi regime, and the deportations that followed its formation were a phenomenon of German occupation. On the other hand, th e racial laws stripped Italian Jews of their dignity and many of their most basic human rights assertion a discernable link between cause and effect is not appropriate other than to say that for Italian Jews, there was not muc h else to lose by 1943. Without a doubt, the years 1938 to 1943 changed the lives of Italian Jewry. The Jews of Italy received a massive, sudden shock to their collective system in the span of only five years. The laws did not represent a si mple cosmetic alteration to the status of Jews within Italian society. It relegated them to the tier of second class citizenry. The Fascist government assembled a bureaucratic machine based on the premise of race that actively sought to ruin the lives of the Jewish population It decimated marriages, friendships, citizenship, income, businesses, education, land and property ownership, rights of gua rdianship, and participation in the military, politics, and administration of Italy. The message to Jews wa s clear: leave Italy or suffer persecution Though the historiographical focus on the Italian racial laws has tended to rest on the year 1938, t he 154 Fabio Levi, ed. Silvio Zamorani (Torino: Silvio Zamorani, 1996), 27 (my translation) 155 memoria/giornata memoria/giornata memoria.html (accessed January 30, 2010).


51 period between 1939 and 1943 saw a marked decline in the situation of the Jews. Mario against individuals and what remained of small Jewish businesses and synagogues 156 After September 1943, the Repubblica Sociale Italiana fell in line with extermination policies. Fo r eighteen months Mussolini and the Sal government actively presided over efforts to root out and kill In the aftermath of total war, the paradigm of a war of attrition has tended to underemphasize persecution that di d not result directl y in death. However, t he story of the Italian regime deserves s ideology. 157 There is no doubt that the Jews in Italy suffered less physical violence than their German counterparts up to 1943. However, the Fascist government proved capable of social and political viol ence on a par with Nazi Germany. At times, it even outsh one the zeal exhibited among the Nazi ranks. Ultimately, t he racial laws served as the death knell of that culminated in the death of nearly nine thousand Italian Jew s by the end of the war. 156 Sznadjer in Wistrich and Della Pergola, 33. 157 W iley Feinstein, The Civilization of the Holocaust in Italy (Cranbury: Rosemont Publishing and Printing Corp., 2003), 11.


Appendix: Chronological List of Major Fascist Legislation Date Law Title September 5, 1938 RDL n. 1390 Measures for the defense of the race in Fascist schools September 5, 1938 RDL n. 1531 Transformation of the Central Demographic Office into the Directorate General for Demography and Race September 5, 1938 RDL n. 1539 Institution, at the Ministry of the Interior, of the High Council for Demography and Race September 7, 1938 RDL n. 1381 Measures regarding foreign Jews November 17, 1938 RDL n. 1728 Measures for the defense of the Italian race December 22, 1938 RDL n. 2111 Orders relating to the placing on permanent leave and the handling of retirement of military personnel of the Jewish race from the Armed Forces Fe bruary 9, 1939 RDL n. 126 Rules of implementation and integration of the orders of Article 10 of RDL n. 1728 of 17 Novembe r 1938, related to the limits on real property and industrial and commercial activity for citizens of the Jewish race June 29, 1939 RDL n. 1054 Issue of the exercise of professions by citizens of the Jewish race July 13, 1939 RDL n. 1024 Supplementary rules to RDL n. 1728 of 17 November 1938 on the defense of the Italian race July 13, 1939 RDL n. 1055 Orders on testamentary issues as well as the subject of surnames regarding citizens of the Jewish race April 19, 1942 RDL n. 517 Exclusion of Jewish elements from show business October 9, 1942 RDL n. 1420 Limitations on the capacities of those belonging to the Jewish race residing in I taly January 4, 1944 DLD n. 2 New orders concerning goods possessed by citizens of the Jewish race Passed under the Italian Social Republic


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