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Refuge and Persecution in Italy, 1933-1945
persons in Italy since 1933;
since 1937; and
These figures reflect the general trends of Jewish emigration from Germany, which after the first wave diminished somewhat in 1934 and 1935 and then increased again after 1936.22 The significant increase, specifically applicable to Italy, between 1935 and 1936 resulted from the possibility after December 1935 of being able to transfer foreign currency because of the German-Italian clearing agreement.23
Comparing the number of persons leaving with those entering Italy, we find that between 30 and 50 percent of immigrants left Italy each year. Italy also served as a transit country for immigrants to Palestine. During the first years after 1933, approximately two-thirds of all Palestine emigration went via Italy, particularly through the port of Trieste. In Trieste, HICEM (Hebrew Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration), the large Jewish emigration organization financed the local Comitato Italiano di Assistenza agli Emigranti Ebrei, originally founded in 1921, mostly to assist emigrants from Eastern Europe. Between 1933 and 1940, a total of 121,391 persons debarked for Palestine from Trieste harbor. The number of Germans sailing from Trieste totaled 26,669 persons between 1933 and 1937 (1933: 4,033; 1934: 4,326; 1935: 5,764; 1936: 7,085; 1937: 5,461).24 Unfortunately, there are no statistics available for the later years.
An equally impressive picture of the migration movement, including transit status, is provided by the Milan Aid Committee, which reported having assisted 2,575 persons who passed through Milan between April 1933 and May 1934, in contrast with the 500 persons who settled in Milan during the same period.25
Jewish immigrants in Italy encountered extremely favorable conditions in comparison to the situation confronting foreigners elsewhere in Europe. Dating back to the prefascist era, Italy had long been intent on protecting the interests of its own citizens abroad because of the high number of Italians living in foreign countries, and they understood that restrictive entry requirements to Italy could bring about reprisals for Italians abroad. For this reason even the fascist regime, because its officials thought in traditional terms, proceeded cautiously in order to avoid conflicts. The liberal entry and settlement policy was not merely a byproduct of the promotion of tourism and shipping interests in large Italian ports.
After 1933, Italy did not require visas for entry. Even a stateless person was granted entry if an Italian consulate abroad had obtained the advance approval of the Foreign Office, and such approval was usually given. Within three days of arrival, the foreigner had to hand in a residence declaration at the nearest questura, which had to be renewed annually, and reregistration was required with each change 26 of address within the country. Actually the only surprising thing, in contrast to other European countries, is that the entry and residence regulations were not tightened and that no special regulations were made for German-Jewish emigrants even prior to the racial legislation, which stipulated a general residence ban for "alien Jews." Paradoxically, the reason lay in the political nature of the fascist system itself. Italy could afford this generosity, since its fascism deterred enough emigrants to limit their numbers. But for the first time following the annexation of Austria, when a larger wave of refugees was expected, the Italians issued an immediate order to close the border to Austrian Jews. It proved ineffective because religious affiliation could not be determined from passports at the time of entry.
In France it was considered a miracle when an exception was made and a carte de travail (work permit) was issued. In Italy there was nothing comparable to the French carte de travail. There was instead a distinction made between two different kinds of residence permits. In addition to the general permit, there was a special permit for employment (Dichiarazione di soggiorno a scopo di lavoro). Offical approval depended on the type of occupation; the independent professions and industry or commerce based on foreign capital were unrestricted.27 Therefore there was no legal obstacle to an emigrant's opening a small store, a workshop, or a studio, or to founding a language school or working as a free-lance translator. On the basis of the German-Italian Clearing Agreement of September 1934, after December 1934 there was the possibility, by deduction of the Reich emigration tax, of transferring capital in amounts up to 50,000 Reichsmarks for the purpose of investment.28
To accept salaried employment in the private sector, a foreigner needed a special permit that could be obtained by applying at the questura, who forwarded the information to Rome. The final decision was made by the Ministry of the Interior after hearing an interministerial commission whose recommendation was based on the situation of the labor market in the specific sector and specific region. The rejections usually amounted to between 10 and 20 percent. A special treatment of Jewish emigrants in comparison with other foreign employees is not revealed from the commission's files.29
Such a favorable situation in regard to approvals and rejections can only be explained in part by the fact that from the outset the companies were guided by the criteria of the commission. Thus it was advisable to provide a reason why the position could not be filled by an Italian employee and to indicate the share of foreign employees already working in the company. A small or medium-size company could hardly dare propose hiring more than one foreigner.
An emigrant who had opened a store or workshop with a small amount of capital was therefore as a rule not in a position to attract other emigrants, for the capital flow from abroad was supposed to benefit the Italian labor market. Actually the number of applications was not very high.30 Therefore, the matter of salaried employment was blocked less by legal obstacles than by the limited opportunities of the labor market.
Despite assertions to the contrary by the regime, Italy suffered less than other countries from the consequences of the international depression. Officially somewhat more than one million Italian unemployed were reported between 1933 and 1935. In reality, however, their number may have been significantly higher. Nonetheless, one gets the impression that up to the introduction of racial legislation, which resulted in a general ban on the employment of "alien Jews," most emigrants who had been gainfully employed in Germany were likewise able to work in Italy.
In Italy the widespread practice of unregistered or illegal employment proved to be extremely advantageous for Jewish refugees. The practice was able to flourish under a system based on protection and corruption, so it was customary that most of the itinerant dealers among the emigrants worked without a work permit.31
For doctors there were possibilities of earning a living in private clinics and spas. The head doctor compensated himself for the protection by paying the emigrants who were dependent on him at less than the Italian salary levels. If the authorities became aware of the illegal hiring, as a rule nothing happened except for a warning and a demand to dismiss the aliens.32 Expulsions due to illegal employment, which were frequent in France and Switzerland, occurred only after repeated warning and were in fact very rare in Italy. As with entry into the country, there is the question why the labor regulations for emigrants were not generally tightened in the course of time. Here, too, the routine protection of the Italian employee working abroad may have been the main motive. When too many refugees demanded admittance to a specific profession, the authorities closed the door, as was the case with physicians. According to the Italian medical law, foreign physicians could freely practice in Italy if they had previously taken Italian examinations. In the fall of 1933 several medical faculties felt prompted by the suddenly increasing number of registrations of German physicians in the examination lists to request general directives from the Ministry of Education. In response, the Ministry of Education required additional conditions before permitting foreigners to take the examination.33 On 5 March 1935 a new medical law was finally enacted that denied foreigners the new permit to practice medicine.34
The second restriction occurred at German behest. In November 1936 the representative of the Deutsche Arbeitsfront in Italy requested that the Ministry of the Interior grant work permits to maids, female teachers, and employees only if they were registered in the (German) Female Labor Front. The official reason mentioned was the danger of a freer lifestyle, which could damage the German image. Undoubtedly, however, the measure was aimed at eliminating one of the most important fields of employment for emigrant women to the advantage of members of the German colony who were loyal Nazis.35
Using occupation as a criterion, census figures show that immigrants to Italy were primarily from the middle or lower middle class; this applied as well to the German Jewish refugees. The census of September 1938, which also included occupational data, provided an accurate statistical picture of occupational structure. In this census most of the prefectures' lists leave open the question of whether the occupation was being learned or pursued in Italy. Of the previously mentioned 2,803 German emigrants of Jewish origin, there were 1,551 men and 1,215 women (for 37 persons no gender data emerges since they were listed only as family members). The gender difference is the most striking in the industrial city of Milan (with 643 men to 411 women, while 120 men to 109 women lived in the province of Bolzano and 147 men to 170 women lived in the province of Rome).
Among the refugee men, the largest group was in trade: 30.6 percent in Italy as a whole, compared to 46.9 percent in Milan. Leading positions in industry-the census lists them as "industrialist, manufacturer, director"- comprised 3.3 percent (5 percent in Milan). Some 4.3 percent were listed as employees in the private sector. Among them, the category for hotel business and tourism was relatively high at 1.4 percent. Skilled trade comprised 6.8 percent. In this category, a total of 27 photographers was the most numerous contingent.
Various academic professions comprised 13.4 percent and included 100 doctors, 12 dentists and dental technicians, 4 pharmacists, 3 architects, 25 engineers, 18 chemists, 33 jurists, of whom 22 were lawyers, and 12 with degrees in humanities. In addition, there were 24 teachers, 6 translators and interpreters, 9 journalists, and 3 writers.
Among the 1.5 percent in the arts, there were 14 musicians including 2 conductors and 3 composers, 14 painters, 2 sculptors, 6 actors, and 1 film director.
One of the smallest groups in the 1938 census was agriculture, at 1.0 percent, or 15 persons. There were still fewer laborers. Actually only one person, one Jakob Rothschild from Frankfurt am Main who resided in Trieste, specified his occupation as a laborer. In contrast, the category of education was large, comprising 17.1 percent students and apprentices. Of all refugee men, 12.3 percent indicated that they lived from pensions and savings.
The situation among the women yields a significantly different image that is characteristic of their social position at that time. Housewives comprised 57.3 percent, and 14.5 percent stated that they covered their living expenses from their own funds or from pensions. Some 8.5 percent were in education (7.1 percent students and 1.4 percent pupils and apprentices). The remaining 19.7 percent of the women were mainly distributed among the following occupational groups: trade and industry, 0.6 percent; employees in the private sector, 3.2 percent, of whom 1.3 percent were in the hotel trade; skilled trades, mainly seamstresses, 1.5 percent; various academic professions, 2.4 percent, including 24 physicians, 3 scientists, 1 judge, 1 literary scholar, and 1 historian; teaching, 2.4 percent; social work, 0.7 percent, plus 7 translators, interpreters, and foreignlanguage secretaries, 2 journalists, and 1 writer; the arts, 1.5 percent, including 3 musicians, 8 painters, and 7 actresses. There are no data available for 4.7 percent of these women.36
One would not readily assume that there were a large number of political emigrants in Italy under fascism, especially if one thinks of the statement of the Italian Foreign Office in the spring of 1933, according to which "persons actively involved in parties opposing fascism" should not be granted residence in Italy. At issue in the overwhelming majority of cases were simply local members of larger organizations. To a large extent, these persons were also threatened in Germany as both racial and political opponents of the regime. Thus in Italy there were frequently former members of the Social Democratic Party, the Reichsbanner, the German Democratic Party, as well as members of politically affiliated professional organizations and student groups. The Reichstag deputy Joseph Herzfeld was conspicuous among the few communists. From 1934 until his death in 1939, the elderly man lived quietly near Bolzano, apparently unmolested because of his age.37 The most prominent figures came primarily from political Catholicism and the Center Party, for which the influential position of the Catholic Church under fascism was decisive. There were also a number of well-known Catholic journalists, priests, and clerics whom the Nazis found disagreeable. Among these was Friedrich Muckermann, founder of the religious exile magazine Der deutsche Weg in Holland.
In this context the former German Chancellor Joseph Wirth must be mentioned. On 23 March 1933 he obtained a passport from the German Consulate in Rome and afterward moved back and forth between Italy, France, Switzerland, and Austria. He was registered in Rome until he left Italy at the end of 1937.38
The fate of the last deputy of the Center Party, the prelate Ludwig Kaas, is known. He did not return to Germany following negotiations for the concordat between the Third Reich and the Holy See in 1933 and later was appointed director of the papal buildings and grounds in Vatican City.39
It is impossible, however, to prove any traces of political activity in Italy. For the former members of parties, organizations, and clubs, emigration to Italy meant withdrawal from politics. The existence of exile organizations who might have opposed the Nazi system and might have maintained lines to other Western European countries was inconceivable under fascism. On the other hand, any illegal activity would have resulted in immediate expulsion. From the outset, the emigrants were under police surveillance, which kept files on "suspicious persons" and dispatched a troop of spies to snoop around emigrants in all areas of life to try to find out their political attitudes.40
Even prior to the German-Italian rapprochement, the police tended to see a potential opponent of fascism in anyone persecuted by the Nazis. On their own, however, they were not in a position to check the political activity of refugees prior to emigration. Better possibilities of control were created only after the secret German-Italian Police Agreement of April 1936 and the assignment of NSDAP-Auslandsorganisation members to the questura of the ten most important cities after mid-1937. This control was limited, however, to specific questions from the Gestapo about individuals and did not involve systematic investigations of all emigrants.41
If former membership in an organization became known, it resulted in increased surveillance but not expulsion until 1938. In individual cases emigrants were requested to leave Italy. Evidently the police was sure of itself and convinced that the refugees were politically inactive except for a few tolerated Zionist groups.
The full extent of politically organized emigrants prior to 1933 only became apparent to the Italian police when the Gestapo submitted lists of Germans to be placed under surveillance and arrested during Hitler's state visit in May 1938.42 Of the 500 individuals arrested during Hitler's state visit, barely 200 had previously belonged to political organizations and professional associations during the Weimar era.
It is hard to discern the relationship of the emigrants to the political system of fascism in an environment that demanded a certain accommodation in order to avoid looking conspicuous or politically suspicious. The fact that the Mussolini regime did not implement a racial policy until the fall of 1938 was surely decisive as a prerequisite for Jewish emigration to Italy. But several German Jews sympathized to some extent with the fascist regime, such as members of the Reichsbund Judischer Frontsoldaten and the Bund Nationaldeutscher Juden, who were attached to authoritarian traditions.
With the few exceptions of convinced fascists, the impression emerges that the Italian political system was unimportant for those refugees who selected Italy. Italy was attractive primarily for economic and practical reasons. Apart from Palestine, Italy was the only country into which it was temporarily possible to transfer larger amounts of foreign currency for living expenses. Italy offered better work opportunities than many other countries, and living expenses were cheaper, which in turn made possible the extension of savings and assets. Finally, it was a more favorable intermediate station for later emigration.
Apart from showing restraint in expressing political opinions, it was a good precaution for employed persons to join the syndicates of corporations. Research confirms that there were German-Jewish refugees who maintained contact with influential personalities and cooperated as precautionary measures with the Italian ministry for propaganda [Ministero della cultura popolare]. Such contacts did not cease with the rapprochement between Italy and Germany, for several refugees attempted to assure their future security through submissiveness and servility to their Italian protectors.
Only one example among many will be related here. From the Tessin the author Walter Mechauer sent an ode to the Duce requesting asylum. Mussolini indirectly thanked Mechauer via the Italian consulate in Locarno and invited him to come to Italy. Following the expulsion decree for "alien Jews" in the fall of 1938, Mechauer hoped that Mussolini's invitation might assist him, and he gave a copy of the letter to the Ministry of the Interior via the prefect of Salerno, but without success.43
Among the writers and artists who had gone to Italy after the Nazi seizure of power, only emigrants threatened by Nazi racial persecution can be considered here. Armin T. Wegner had courageously written to Hitler in 1933 and was consequently sent to a concentration camp and whipped because of his valiant intercession on behalf of the Jews. Nevertheless, he remained in steady contact with the German Embassy and the various German cultural and scientific institutions in Italy. He even spent several months in Germany, and from 1941 to 1943 was in Padua in his official capacity as lecturer at the Germany Academy.44 The position of Stefan Andres, a Catholic author who had left Germany in protest against the pogrom of November 1938, was similar. Mostly he lived quietly in Positano but was still able to publish individual works such as We Are Utopia in Germany despite the fact that he was excluded from the Reichsschrifttumskammer.45
Among the Jewish writers forced to flee Germany, the most famous are Alfred Neumann, Walter Hasenclever, Alice Berend, and Karl Wolfskehl. An interesting situation developed when two of Neumann's novels, written in a villa in Fiesole near Florence, were initially published in German by Allert de Lange in Holland and subsequently by Mondadori in Milan in an Italian translation.46
Among refugee artists in Italy we mention only Adolf Fleischmann, Rudolf Levy, Felix Nussbaum, and Michel Fingesten. Fleischmann is considered an important representative of abstract painting. Like Levy, he came to Italy from Spain, and on the island of Ischia he changed his style from objective to abstract. Shortly before Hitler's state visit he went to France, where he survived in hiding in the Department of Tam during the German occupation.47
Starting in 1938, Levy lived at first on Ischia and later in Florence. After Italy entered the war, he was not interned because of his advanced age. In 1944 he fell into the hands of the Gestapo and was deported to Auschwitz, from where he never returned.48
After the forced interruption of the young Felix Nussbaum's fellowship at the Villa Massimo, a German artist's residence in Rome, he remained on the Ligurian coast for approximately one-and-a-half years, painting mainly restrained harbor and street scenes. It was at a later period while in hiding in Brussels prior to his deportation that he created the shattering self-portraits and the scenes recalling the medieval dances of death in which loneliness, anxiety, and the premonition of death are reflected.49
Michel Fingesten, a now largely forgotten painter and graphic artist of rank, combined a poetic fantasy with macabre humor. He first lived in Milan and was later interned in Ferramonti-Tarsia in Calabria until he was liberated by the Allies. He died in Cosenza in 1946.50
In Italy there were also numerous so-called "semi-emigrants," such as Hans Purrmann, the director of the Villa Romana in Florence,51 who applied the term to himself. Another was the sculptress Jenny Wiegmann-Mucchi.52 These were artists who on their own had broken with the forced political conformity of art in Germany or who no longer perceived any possibility for having an effect. Some had in fact already been declared degenerate by the Nazis. Scattered throughout Italy there were two to three dozen well-known and less well- known artists, sculptors, and craftsmen who sought in seclusion to use whatever remained of their modest independence.
The increasing German influence led to a deterioration of the exiles' situation in Italy. The already-mentioned secret German-Italian Police Agreement had the most severe consequences. The Agreement was concluded in Berlin on 1 April 1936 by an Italian delegation under the direction of the police chief Arturo Bocchini with Himmler, Heydrich, and several representatives of the Gestapo.53 In the preliminary discussions the Germans tried unsuccessfully to pressure the Italians into recognizing the "Jewish danger." The text of the Agreement therefore referred only to combatting communists, freemasons, and emigrants, by which ultimately all political opponents of both regimes were meant.
The agreement had severe consequences for the Jewish emigrants, since it permitted the Gestapo to create a general mistrust of Jews as "subversive elements" by giving information about their earlier political activities. The Agreement provided for an exchange of information, documents, pieces of evidence, and police identification material; it was also to include political emigrants in other countries, above all Spain and France. The Gestapo could henceforth request the Italian police to interrogate, arrest, and expel a refugee. In return, the Italian police had the possibility of obtaining information about "suspects." Still more decisive was a rider to the Agreement, which was recorded at Himmler's request and which the Italian delegation did not wish to include in the text without consulting Mussolini: "In cases of justified suspicion, the German and the Italian police would mutually extradite political criminals without diplomatic negotiation, provided that there was no contravening national interest."
The Gestapo must have considered the rider particularly important, as the applicable German-Italian Extradition Agreement of 1871 provided no effective handle for political cases. In August 1934 the Gestapo learned that the Italian Ministry of Justice would uphold international legal norms by refusing the extradition of the political refugee Arthur Hurlebusch, whom the Gestapo hoped to get their hands on under the pretext of theft. Under dramatic circumstances Hurlebusch had escaped from Dachau to Austria, which rejected a German request for extradition, permitting him instead to leave Austria to travel to Italy. With the assistance of the Jewish Aid Committee in Milan, he later managed to arrive illegally in France.54
The Police Agreement started in July 1936 with the exchange of police attaches at both embassies. Theodor Helmerking was appointed as the German representative in Rome. From the beginning a significant share of the inquiries by both sides dealt with German emigrants in Italy and with members of the Italian colony in Germany. It is not generally known, but Italians in Germany had served as couriers and as members of communist cells, had participated in acts of opposition as spokesmen at employment walkouts, and had therefore been arrested.
An occasion to test Mussolini's willingness in regard to extradition occurred as early as October 1936, when the German General Consulate in Milan refused to renew the passport of an employee at the Soviet trade mission in Milan by the name of Julius Hoffmann and reported the matter to Berlin. The Gestapo then requested that the Italian police "examine the possibility whether Hoffmann could not be expelled from Italy as an undesirable alien and be put on board a German ship bound for Hamburg." Hoffmann was alleged to have been a long-time communist functionary who was wanted for high treason and for betraying his country. It was hoped that certain acts of economic espionage might be explained through him. Bocchini, head of the Italian Police, asked Mussolini, who also served as Minister of the Interior, and noted afterwards: "Correct (sta bene). He can be sent away and put on a German ship. The German police must be informed." On 24 January 1937 Hoffmann was handed over to the captain of the ship, the Leverkusen in Genoa.55 The same procedure was proposed by the Gestapo a short time later for the emigrant Willi von Bracht, who had fled to Holland in 1936 and from there had reached Rome on a forged passport under the name of Hans Harlinghausen. In Rome he at first lived in a Catholic guest house before getting a job as gardener in a cloister in the vicinity of Rome. In the guest house he allegedly spread "horror reports about Germany and expressed himself in a hateful manner against the Fiihrer." Whether or not this was the real reason for demanding his extradition, von Bracht was arrested on 19 May 1937 and taken to a ship in Genoa on 6 August.56
Afterwards there were no more extraditions until mid-1938. The persons threatened with arrest were either able to get away in time, or extradition was postponed because of court proceedings in Italy or because they were already in custody and according to Italian law could not be handed over before being sentenced. In several cases one of the two parties considered extradition inopportune. Consequently, in addition to the request for extradition, the practice of an offer of extradition soon came into being.
In the wording of the Gestapo, such practice was usually disguised by the trivial formula: "Are there any other wishes in regard to the person in question." The low number of extraditions in the first two years of the Agreement can be explained by the self-interest of both parties in preventing scandals in the German or Italian exile press or in the European left-wing press, and in having the cooperation proceed as inconspicuously as possible.57
Despite repeated offers for extradition by the Gestapo, the Italians waited until July 1938 to cash in. Heydrich, in a personal letter to Bocchini, reported the arrest of Angelo Ursella, who had been sentenced to 30 years imprisonment in 1927 by the Italian Special Tribunal because of alleged participation in an assassination attempt against Mussolini. In 1936 he married an Austrian and was running a small brickyard near Vienna. Probably for this reason he did not want to leave after the annexation of Austria and hoped to remain undetected. He was handed over to the Italian police.58
The Police Agreement was applied consistently until the German occupation after 8 September 1943. The person responsible for its implementation was SS Obersturmbannffihrer Kappler, who served as the police attache to the German Embassy in Rome starting in mid-1939. Kappler was later responsible for the murder of hostages in the Fosse Ardeatine during the occupation of Rome.
Following Italy's entrance into the war, the number of extraditions increased and may have amounted to four or five persons per month. Only in isolated instances was there a Jew among these, because after Italy's entrance into the war most of the Jews were interned and hence were out of reach of Nazi spies and the Gestapo. After the annexation of Austria, the common border facilitated the technical and legal aspects of extradition: there was no longer any practical distinction between extradition (estradizione), expulsion (espulsione), deportation (allontanamento), and repatriation (rimpatrio), since the Gestapo needed only to intervene along the Brenner Pass or at Arnoldstein.
At the beginning, police cooperation went unnoticed by the emigrants. The danger became clear only when, within the framework of security measures for the state visit of Hitler between 3 and 9 May 1938, the Gestapo and the Italian police jointly undertook a large-scale raid against German, Austrian, and Polish citizens in Italy, and this primarily affected the refugees.
In October or November 1937 the first meeting took place between Heinrich Muller, SS-Standartenfuhrer and head of the Gestapo, one of the most powerful men in the police system behind Himmler and Heydrich, and Guido Leto, the official in the Italian Ministry of the Interior who was responsible for cooperation with the German police. It was agreed to check the political reliability of all Germans, "ex-Austrians," and Poles residing in Italy-in other words, more than 20,000 individuals. Within this group, emigrants and Jews were considered suspicious from the outset. In this respect the Italian side made a concession that they had evaded during the negotiation for the Police Agreement (April 1936). As might be expected, the proposal to check all German citizens emanated from the Gestapo, which referred to the security measures during the state visit of Mussolini in Germany in September 1937, when all Italians who were registered in Germany were investigated.59
During discussions between Helmerking and Leto the procedure was established in detail. The investigation should begin in the offices of each questura, to which trusted members of the NSDAP Foreign Organization were assigned in 22 cities, supplementing the previously appointed ten local Nazis.60 The jointly prepared lists were then to be sent to the Ministry of the Interior, which compared them with the main central card-catalog of political opponents and then submitted them to Helmerking. Gestapo headquarters would then summarize the results of their investigations into refugee political activities prior to emigration and in other countries.
In October and December, the Ministry of the Interior instructed the prefects and the offices of the questura, who were subordinate to them, to divide the lists into three categories: "definite Hitler supporters, politically suspicious persons, and Germans who were not known or were only slightly known to the consulates and the Nazi organizations in Italy."61 The first two lists of "politically suspicious persons," which dealt almost exclusively with refugees, were submitted in late November. Starting in January 1938, the first lists of the "unknown and less known German citizens" reached Helmerking. The lists of "Germans from Austria," which had been requested by the NSDAP Foreign Organization following Anschluss in a letter to Bocchini, started to arrive on 1 April 1938.62 From the beginning of January to the start of the state visit, the Gestapo received a total of 599 lists from the provinces.63
In mid-March the Gestapo presented their proposals with the submission of the first reports. The reports were summarized into lists that were divided into "dangerous," "suspicious," and "persons about whom there is no reason for suspicion." The first group was to be "rendered harmless" by arrest or similar measures (i.e., expulsion) during the state visit, and the second group was to be kept under close surveillance.64
The Italians were in agreement and even contributed their share by ordering that the "suspicious persons" likewise be arrested in the cities to be visited by Hitler-Florence, Rome, and Naples. Two lists were then sent to the questura: "List A: Germans to be arrested" and "List B: Germans to be kept under close surveillance."65
The exchange of lists constituted only a part of the security measures that undoubtedly were intended simultaneously to provide a demonstration of the Gestapo's efficiency and to intimidate the refugees into departing from Italy. In a letter of 9 February Heydrich called Bocchini's attention to the "dangers" that, as was generally known, were to be feared especially from emigrants who had fled from Germany. He requested that for the period before and during the state visit, Bocchini provide him with a number of officials who, on the basis of their language skills, would assist the Italian police in the investigation of personal data and during interrogations.66
At the beginning of March Heydrich traveled to Rome and discussed details of the plan with Bocchini. A total of 22 detectives were posted at 13 offices of questura in border towns, ports, and large cities. On 10 and 11 April they arrived at their destinations and were actually visible at interrogations and during house searches.67 Starting on 20 April, groups of higher police and SS officers crossed the border almost daily, some of them traveling in Nazi party uniforms, and went to their quarters in Rome, Naples, and Florence. Between 24 and 27 April Himmler, Heydrich, and Sepp Dietrich, commander of Hitler's Leibstandarte, were simultaneously in Rome to complete plans for coordinating the preparations. At the same time Gestapo Mdller organized an office with a staff of 37 Gestapo officers in Rome where, in cooperation with the Italian police, he continued the investigations that had been started by the Gestapo in Berlin until the end of the state visit.
For almost three weeks there was a total of approximately 120 Gestapo and SS officers on Italian soil, including prominent figures such as Otto Ohlendorff, Otto Rasch, Erich Ehrlinger, and Walter Schellenberg-all of whom committed atrocities during the war in occupied Europe and were pivotally involved in the "final solution." Counting the 22 trusted informants of the NSDAP Foreign Organization and 66 additional security officials who arrived in special trains with Hitler's entourage, the operation amounted to a police invasion of more than 200 men.68
The precise number of persons arrested is not noted in any document, and there is little hope that a document could be found. In the census of September 1938 there was a total of 525 Jewish emigrants registered in the cities visited by Hitler-Rome, Naples, and Florence (in May 1938 the figure must have been higher-more than 600). One-third to half of these must have been on list B, "Germans to be kept under surveillance," and were consequently arrested at the order of the Italian police. These must be added to the names on list A, "Germans to be arrested," which included 100-200 individuals. A supplementary list of approximately 30 Austrians whose names are known.69; an undeterminable number of Poles; and numerous members of the Germany colony, many of whom cannot be regarded as refugees, were also detained. Therefore, the total may have been 500, of whom at least two-thirds were Jews.
Arrests based on list A occurred on 20 April, and arrests for list B on 1 May. The release was effected through a circular of the Ministry of the Interior of 16 May but occurred somewhat earlier in many places at the command of the local prefect.70 No written reports about conditions in the prisons are available. Walter Hasenclever is said to have had his wrists in chains in Massa Carrara.71 Armin T. Wegner was lured under a pretext from Positano to Amalfi, where he was locked up with the petty criminals of the town in a large space teeming with vermin and with water dripping from the walls. Later he was taken to the prison in Salerno and placed with four other inmates.72
In Florence the majority of the approximately 100 teachers and students of the Jewish boarding school were taken away. Men and women were put into separate prisons. The archbishop of the city, Elia Dalla Costa, is said to have ameliorated the prisoners' conditions by instructing the prison priest to smuggle out mail and to establish communication between the men's and the women's prisons. As Robert Kempner recalls, the prisoners had the feeling of being kept as hostages and paradoxically had to hope that their tormentor would return to Germany unharmed.73
3. Threat of Expulsion under the Racial Laws, 1938-1940
There was a basic change in the situation of the Jewish refugees following the implementation of Italian racial legislation. The conditions of exile, relatively favorable until then in contrast to many other European countries, changed precipitously and became very bitter and oppressive. As previously mentioned, the prevailing belief today is that the Germans exerted no direct pressure on Mussolini but that, on the contrary, his decision to introduce racial policy occurred at his own initiative, although under the spell of the German model.74
The relationship between the emigration and the inauguration of the racial policy has heretofore been completely overlooked. But emigration was doubtless an important factor. The lists of the Gestapo drawn up for Hitler's state visit, with their extensive reports about the former political activities of the refugees, cannot have failed to leave an impression on Mussolini. As Minister of the Interior, he was kept informed ex ofticio. It was indeed a paradoxical situation that people who were persecuted by the Axis partners could nevertheless still find refuge under the fascist regime. The stream of refugees coming out of annexed Austria also had an impact on the birth of racial politics in Italy. It is even tempting to assume that the Nazis, who at this time practiced a brutal expulsion policy along the borders of other countries, intentionally left open the escape route to Italy after Hitler's state visit to burden the country with a refugee problem that only antisernitic measures could solve.
In fact there is a straight line from the arrests during Hitler's state visit to the law of 7 September 1938 (published on 12 September in the Gazzetta Ufficiale) that created the legal basis for the mass expulsion of the Jews who had emigrated and fled to Italy-or, as they were officially called, the "alien Jews."75 Prior to the state visit expulsion had been considered in the Ministry of the Interior as an alternative to arrest. But the objection that was made against such a massive expulsion was that the state visit could not provide the legal basis or pretext.76 It is not known whether refugees were expelled immediately on release.
The decree of 7 September, which introduced the designation "Jew" for a person, "both of whose parents are of the Jewish race," stipulated that "alien Jews" (ebrei stranieri) were basically forbidden to reside in Italy. Since the concept of "alien Jew" constituted a racial policy category, it was always placed in quotation marks when used in reference to the attitude of fascist authorities. All persons who had arrived after 1 January 1919 had to leave the country within six months or by 12 March 1939. Otherwise they were threatened with expulsion and were to be accompanied by the police up to the border. Italian citizenship acquired after 1 January 1919 was annulled for these individuals.
The regulations of the decree were incorporated into the text of the law of 17 November with some modifications. This decree, which was the codex of Italian racial legislation, provided for a three-month arrest or a fine in the amount of 5,000 lire. One concession, however, was the regulation that allowed persons older than 65 or married to Italian citizens to remain in Italy.77
The unworkability of the expulsion law was first recognized by the prefects and questors who had to deal with these matters on a daily basis. Their account of the situation was that the limited possibilities of entry into other countries excluded the departure of all affected persons by 12 March. Despite this realization, these high fascist officials continued to adhere completely to the logic of the system. They stated that the Jews had behaved loyally in regard to the regulation and that they even wanted to leave but were hindered by the absence of visas.
A letter from the prefect of Genoa containing a detailed description of the difficulties of leaving Italy read like a plea for the persecuted.78 Pressure also came from Italian shipping companies, which were interested in having a regulated exodus and steady bookings, while a mass expulsion would have caused them to lose several thousand passengers.79 However, the spokesperson for the shipping interests was always the influential Foreign Office.
Ultimately the expulsion law attracted the attention of other countries. According to the report of a British press agency, Chamberlain spoke upon behalf of the foreign Jews during his state visit in Rome in January 1939. In response Mussolini allegedly told him that the expulsion would be suspended until the conclusion of deliberations by the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees, an organization initiated by Roosevelt for the purpose of facilitating a controlled emigration through negotiations with the Hitler regime and potential recipient countries.80
Efforts toward support at the diplomatic level were also undertaken by the Milan Committee, which since the introduction of racial legislation was called Contitato di Assistenza agli Ebrei in Italia, or COMASEBIT, for the purpose of making clear that its aid now also extended to Italian Jews. It maintained good relations with the American consul general in Milan, Walter H. Sholes, who in personal reports called the attention of the State Department to the endangered situation of immigrant and refugee Jews. He approached the president of the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees, Myron Taylor, as well as others. In the last two weeks of February Myron Taylor requested an audience with Mussolini, but was refused.81 After the refusal to Taylor, the American Ambassador in Rome, William Phillips, considered it advisable to proceed cautiously, because he had the impression that Mussolini, on his own, was preparing to discontinue the expulsion, hence outside intervention could have negative repercussions.82 On 10 March Ciano, informed the ambassador officially of the suspension of the measure and expressly stressed that it would also not be implemented against emigrants from Germany and Austria.83 It cannot be determined whether Mussolini, who after Munich enjoyed his role as an international broker, was moved toward the volte-face by foreign policy considerations or was more influenced by the arguments of the prefects and questors.
Even after the suspension the decree was nonetheless legally in force and the threat of expulsion still existed. Mussolini was by no means willing to dispense with the psychological pressure of uncertainty and anxiety. He did not vacillate in his intention that "alien Jews" had to leave Italy.
Even before the deadline, the questors had begun to accept applications for an extension of residence, which required the approval of four authorities: the local questura, the Department for Race and Demography of the Ministry of the Interior, the Directorate for Public Security of the Ministry of the Interior, as well as, for a while, the Provincial Secretary of the Fascist Party. Depending upon the status of preparations for emigration, the duration of the extension was determined on a case-by-case basis but could not exceed six months. Anyone whose records included mention of suspicious activities or who was considered without financial resources had no chance of obtaining an extension.84
On 12 March the statistical situation was as follows: 3,720 "alien Jews" residing in Italy after 1 January 1919 had to leave the country. Of the 4,154 persons still in Italy and subject to the regulations, 3,190 had applied for an extension of residence. Some 933 were permitted to remain because they were over age 65 or were married to Italian citizens. Only 964 persons, none of whom had applied for extension, were to be deported. 85 The 3,190 applications for extension soon accumulated in the offices of the Department for Demography and Race that was undergoing expansion. The fact that several months were probably needed to complete the processing of these applications was for many a priceless gain in time, and thus, contrary to normal rules, this time bureaucracy worked to the advantage of the emigrants.
This is a completely revised version, based on further archival research, of a paper delivered in Osnabruck's "Banned Books Week," 1982; a portion of the earlier unrevised version appeared in Italian in Storia Contemporanea 16, no. 1 (Feb. 1985): 45-87.
1. For a review, see Kurt R. Grossmann, Emigration: Geschichte der HitlerFliichtlinge 1933-1945 (Frankfurt, 1969), p. 232; Arieh Tartakower and Kurt R. Grossmann, The Jewish Refugee (New York, 1944), pp. 39-41; Raul Hilberg, Die Vernichtung der europaischen Juden: Die Gesamlgeschichte des Holocaust, trans. from the American by Christian Seeger and others (Berlin, 1982), pp. 455-66; Renzo De Felice, Storia degli ebrei italiani sotto il fascismo (Turin, 1972), passim.
2. A comparative analysis of both systems in Wolfgang Schieder, "Das Deutschland Hiders und das Italien Mussolinis: Zurn Problem faschistischer Regimebildung," in Die grofle Krise der dreifliger Jahre, ed. Gerhart Schultz (Gottingen, 1985), pp. 44-71.
4. For the discussion on cultural politics of fascism, see particularly Lionel Richard, Nazismo e cultura (Milan, 1982); Philip Cannistraro, La fabbrica del consenso: Fascismo e mass-media (Bari, 1975); Gabriele Turi, Il fascismo e il consenso degli intellettuali (Bologna, 1980); Luisa Mangoni, L'interventismo della cultura (Bari, 1979).
10. Massimo Leone, Le organizzazioni di soccorso ebraiche in etd fascista (Rome, 1983), pp. 131-150; Settimio Sorani, L'assistenza ai profughi ebrei in Italia, 1933-1947: Contributo alla storia della "Delasem" (Rome, 1983), pp. 30-39, 167, appendix 1 (Appeal of 26 Apr. 1933 "Agh ebrei d'Italia!").
11. Rome, Archivio Centrale dello Stato [hereafter cited as ACS], Ministero dell'Interno, Direzione Generale della Pubblica Sicurezza [hereafter cited as PS], A 16 Ebrei stranieri, Busta [Box] 9-16: replies from the prefects to the circulars of 24 Oct. 1934 (443/81409) and 5 May 1936 (433/3914).
12. ACS, PS 1903-49, Ufficio Rapporti con la polizia germanica [hereafter cited as RG], Busta 2, RG 30/Accordo fra la polizia italiana e tedesca. Affari generali: Theodor Helmerking, German Embassy, Rome, to Arturo Bocchini, chief of the police, 5 June 1937. Regarding the implementation of the "Census of foreign Jews," see Silva Gherardi Bon, La persecuzione antiebraica a Trieste, 1938-1945 (Udine, 1972), pp. 89-91.
13. ACS, PS, A 16 Ebrei stranieri, Busta 9-16: replies from the prefects; to the circulars of 12 Sept. 1938 (443/35278) and 30 Sept. 1938 (443/48037): my statistics based on the list of names. See Klaus Voigt, "Notizie statistiche sugh immigrati e profughi ebrei in Italia (1938-1945)," in Israel, "Un decennio" 1974- 1984: Saggi sull' ebraismo italiano (Rome, 1984), pp. 407-20.
15. New York, American Jewish joint Distribution Committee [hereafter cited as JDC], 718 General, 1937-39, Situation of Refugees in Italy: Nathan Katz (JDC Paris) to JDC New York, 8 Sept. 1938, and The Council for German Jews, Refugees in Italy and Yugoslavia, 28 Sept. 1938.
17. Bern, Schweizer Bundesarchiv, 2200 Rom 24/1, 38.1.C.2j, Situation des israelites suisses en Italie: Swiss Embassy to consulate at Trieste, 5 Sept. 1938. Sources at the Swiss Federal Archives do not confirm the story in Carl Ludwig, Die Fluchtlingspolitik der Schweiz 1933-55: Bericht an den Bundesrat zuhdnden der eidgendssischen Tare (Bern, 1957), p. 84, about 3,000 Jewish refugees from Austria who supposedly fled from Italy to Switzerland and found refuge there. Therefore this number cannot be correct.
22. Herbert A. Strauss, "Jews in German History: Persecution, Emigration, Acculturation," in International Biographical Dictionary of Central European Emigres 1933-45, vol. 2 (Munich, 1983), pp. 9-26, esp. p. 15.
24. Leone, Le organizzazioni, pp. 266-67; Giuseppe Fano, "Riassunto aggiornato sull'attivita del Comitato negli anni 1938-1943," in La Rassegna Mensile di Israel 31 (1965): 496-530, esp. 500; Rome, Unione delle Comunita Israelitiche Italiane [hereafter cited as UCII], 43 B Assistenza ai viandanti/Comitato Assistenza Trieste; "ll transito dell'emigrazione ebraica verso Erez Israel attraverso Trieste nel 1934," Israel: Corriere Israelitico 20, no. 16-17, 10-17 Jan. 1935. The figure for 1937 contradicts the total figure of 3,700 German immigrants to Palestine cited in Strauss, "Jews in German History," p. 21.
28. Koblenz, Bundesarchiv, R 7 Reichswirtschaftsministerium: Reichsstelle fur Devisenbewirtschaftung, Allgemeiner ErlaB 380/35, 21 Dec. 1935; see also Jadische Rundschau (Berlin), no. 3 (10 Jan. 1936): 5.
30. According to the results of the "Census of Foreign Jews" of Sept. 1938, approximately 20 percent of refugee men and 5 percent of women can be considered to have been in dependent positions. This would correspond to 100 to 200 applications in the period 1933-1935 and 200 to 400 in 1936-1938.
38. ACS, PS 1903-49, Ufficio RG, Busta 3, RG 55/Viaggio di S.E. Hitler in Italia: list Rome. The date must be erroneous, because on 23 Mar. Wirth voted on the Enabling Act. See Rudolf Morsey, "Leben and Oberleben im Exil. Am Beispiel von Joseph Wirth, Ludwig Kaas und Heinrich Bruning,'' in Um der Freiheit willen: Eine Festgabe ffir und von Johannes und Karin Schauff zum 80. Geburtstag, ed. Paulus Gordan (Pfullingen, 1983), pp. 86-117, esp. pp. 88-98.
57. Instructive in this regard is the case of the mason Armando Antonini from Rome, who was arrested while travelling through Germany from Czechoslovakia to France. After the publication of an article in the Basler Arbeiter-Zeitung about his arrest, which was sent by the Italian Consulate at Basle to the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry declined the extradition offered by the Gestapo. ACS, PS 1903-49, Ufficio RG, Busta 1, RG 35/Sovversivi italiani nel Reich: correspondence on Armando Antonini.
69. ACS, PS 1930-55, Busta 743, Mass. S. 1.D5. Single reports on Germans can be found in the personnel files of category A 16 Stranieri/1939. The number of those arrested in Rome, Florence, and Naples according to List B can be deduced from the telegrams of the three prefects; to the Ministry of the Interior, in ACS, Ministero dell'Interno, Ufficio Cifra, Arrivi, 20 Apr. to 15 May 1938.
74. Basic for this question is the analysis by Meir Michaelis, Mussolini and the Jews: German-Italian Relations and the Jewish Question in Italy (Oxford, 1978). The book was also published in an enlarged Italian translation: Mussolini e la questione ebraica. Le relazioni italo-tedesche e la politica razziale in Italia, trans. Mario Baccianini (Milan, 1982). See also Renzo De Felice, Mussolini il Duce, Vol. 2: Lo stato totalitario 1936-1940 (Turin, 1981), pp. 487-500.
79. Washington, National Archives [hereafter cited as NA], State Department file 1930-1939, 865.4016/145: Walter H. Sholes, Recent Developments in the Jewish Race and Refugee Question in Italy, Milan, 26 Jan. 1939.
81. NA, State Department file 1930-1939, 865.4016/142: telegram from Myron Taylor to the Department of State, London, 14 Feb. 1939, and 865.4016/146: telegram from William Phillips to the Department of State, Rome, 27 Feb. 1939.
85. ACS, PS, A 16 Ebrei stranieri, Busta 1/Al/4: Appunto per il Duce. Situazione degli ebrei stranieri nelle varie provincie del Regno alla data del 12 marzo 1939: circular from the Ministry of the Interior to the prefects, 5 Apr. 1939 (443/62298).
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