Patrizia Guarnieri

Intellectuals Displaced from Fascist Italy.

Migrants, Exiles and Refugees Fleeing for Political and Racial Reasons

©2019 Author(s) Published by Firenze University Press
e-ISBN: 978-88-6453-872-3 | DOI: 10.36253/978-88-6453-872-3

Intellectuals Displaced from Fascist Italy

    Leggi fascistissime and the racial laws

    Legge 26 novembre 1925, n. 2029 - Regulation of associations, bodies and institutions, and the membership of the same by state, provincial and municipal employees, or by employees of institutions under the legal supervision of the state, the provinces or municipalities (GU no. 277, 28 November 1925).
    Associations, bodies and institutions operating in the kingdom of Italy were required to provide their statutes, regulations and listings of positions held by office-holders as well as of members whenever so requested by public security authorities «on grounds of order and public security». In cases of omissions, false or incomplete declarations, they could be dissolved by prefectural decree; custodial sanctions and financial penalties were also envisaged. Functionaries, employees, civilian and military personnel in state and public administration were obliged on request to declare whether they had belonged or still belonged, «even as simple members, to associations, bodies and institutions of whatever kind, operating within the kingdom or outside». Moreover, those who belonged, «even as simple members, to associations, bodies or institutions established within the kingdom or outside, which operate, even if only partially, in a clandestine or hidden way, but whose members are in any event bound by secrecy, are to be discharged and removed from their ranking or position, and in any event dismissed»..

    Legge 24 dicembre 1925, n. 2300 - Dismissal of state functionaries (GU no. 2, 4 January 1926).
    This law gave the government power «until 31 December 1926, even in cases not covered by current legislation, to dismiss functionaries, employees and civilian and military personnel of any grade and rank, employed in any branch of state administration who, because of their behaviour at work or outside work, are unable to fully guarantee the faithful fulfilment of their duties, or who display incompatibility with the general political directives of the government».

    Legge 6 novembre 1926, n. 1848 - Consolidating Act of public security legislation (GU no. 257, 8 November 1926).
    Il provvedimento ampliava fra l'altro i poteri dei prefetti ed istituiva il confino di polizia come sanzione nei confronti dei soggetti pericolosi «per la sicurezza pubblica o per l'ordine nazionale».

    Legge 25 novembre 1926, n. 2008 - Provisions for the Defence of the State (GU no. 281, 6 December 1926).

    Article 4 of this law introduced custodial sentences and permanent exclusion from public office for those who undertook political and intellectual activities in opposition to the regime:

    Whoever re-establishes, even in a different form and under a different name, associations, organisations or parties that have been dissolved by order of public authority, shall receive a custodial sentence of between three and ten years, and be permanently banned from holding public office. Whoever belongs to such associations, organisations or parties, by the very fact of belonging, shall receive a custodial sentence of between two and five years, and be permanently banned from holding public office. Subject to the same punishment are those who in any way undertake propaganda relating to the tenets, programmes and methods of action of these associations, organisations or parties.

    Article 5 introduced imprisonment from 5 to 15 years, as well as permanent exclusion from public office, for those who outside of Italy spread «rumours or false, exaggerated or biased information about the internal conditions of the state», such as could be damaging to national prestige and interests. A sentence in absentia entailed «loss of citizenship and confiscation of assets». Jurisdiction over the offences covered by this legislation was entrusted to the «Special Tribunal for the Defence of the State» against whose sentences there was no appeal.


    Regio decreto 28 agosto 1931, n. 1227 - Measures relating to higher education (GU no. 233, 8 October 1931).

    This piece of legislation introduced a new form of words for the Oath of Allegiance. Article 18 called upon full and non-tenured professors (professori di ruolo and professori incaricati) of the kingdom’s institutions of higher education to swear allegiance according to the following wording:

    I swear I shall be faithful to the King, to his Royal Successors and to the Fascist Regime, and that I shall observe loyally the Statute (of the National Fascist Party) and all other laws of the State, and fulfil my teaching and academic duties with the aim of preparing industrious and righteous citizens, devoted to the homeland and to the Fascist Regime. I swear that I do not belong nor will I belong to any association or party whose activities are incompatible with the duties of my office.


    Regio decreto legge 31 agosto 1933, n. 1592 Approval of Consolidating Act of laws on higher education (GU no. 283, 7 December 1933).
    This Decree, in particular in Article 75, introduced the unchallengeability of the provisions taken by the administration regarding the exclusion from competitions for permanent university professorships and positions in institutes of higher education of all those who were held to be lacking the requisite of regular moral and political conduct. In addition, Article 83, Article 123, second subparagraph, and Article 235, obliged tenured professors, non-tenured professors (incaricati) and liberi docenti to swear the Oath of Allegiance to fascism. 

    Following a relatively short preparatory phase, the fascist regime enacted the series of regulations, provisions and ordinances known collectively as the Racial Laws.

    Regio decreto legge 5 settembre 1938, n. 1390 Provisions for the Defence of the Race in fascist schools (including institutions of higher education) (GU no. 209, 13 September 1938, converted into Law no. 99, 5 January 1939).
    This decree-law sanctioned the exclusion from institutions of education of all types and levels of teachers and students of «Jewish race» as of 16 October 1938. Heads of schools (presidi and direttori), non-tenured university teachers (aiuti and assistenti), supervisors in elementary schools were to be considered as teachers; liberi docenti were suspended from exercising their qualification (libera docenza). The decree also included expulsion from academies, institutes and scientific societies. Students already enrolled at universities could however continue their studies.

    Regio decreto legge 5 settembre 1938, n. 1531 Conversion of the Central Demographic Office into the Directorate-General for Demography and Race (GU no. 230, 7 October 1938).

    Regio decreto legge 5 settembre 1938, n. 1539 Establishment, at the Ministry of the Interior, of the High Council for Demography and Race (GU no. 231, 8 October 1938), converted without modification into Law no. 26, 5 January 1939 (GU no. 24, 30 January 1939).

    Regio decreto legge 7 settembre 1938, n. 1381Provisions relating to foreign Jews (GU no. 208, 12 September 1938).
    This decree-law prohibited foreigners of Jewish race from establishing permanent residence in the kingdom; it also stated that «foreign Jews currently in the kingdom, in Libya and in the Aegean Possessions, who began their stay after January 1st 1919» were obliged to leave the country within six months of the publication of the decree.

    Regio decreto legge 23 settembre 1938, n. 1630 - Establishment of elementary schools for children of Jewish race (GU no. 245, 25 October 1938, converted into Law no. 94, 5 January 1939).

    Dichiarazione sulla razza (Declaration on Race), approved by vote of the Grand Council of Fascism on 6 October 1938.
    While previous measures had defined as «of Jewish race» those with two Jewish parents, the declaration widened the definition to include also those who had a Jewish father and a mother of foreign nationality, and the children of mixed marriages who professed the Jewish faith on 1 October 1938.

    Regio decreto legge 15 novembre 1938, n. 1779 - Integration and co-ordination into a Consolidating Act of the regulations already enacted for the Defence of the Race in Italian schools (GU no. 272, 29 November 1938, converted into Law no. 98, 5 January 1939).
    This decree brought further clarity, and confirmed the possibility for «students of Jewish race already enrolled in past academic years at the kingdom’s universities or institutes of higher education», as well as foreign students in the same position, «in derogation of the measures which prohibit foreign Jews from establishing permanent residence in the kingdom», to complete their course of study. The same measure was also applied to students enrolled on courses of higher study or graduate specialisation courses at the Royal Conservatories, or to those enrolled at the Royal Academies of Fine Arts, or on the courses of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in Rome, for which a secondary school leaving qualification or equivalent was required.

    Regio decreto legge 17 novembre 1938, n. 1728 - Provisions for the Defence of the Italian Race (GU, no. 264, 19 November 1938, converted into Law no. 274, 5 January 1939).

    This Royal Decree enlarged the categories for inclusion in the «Jewish race», in line with the following definitions:

    a) a person is to be considered of Jewish race if both parents are Jewish, even if they profess a different religion to the Jewish faith;

    b) a person is considered of Jewish race if one parent is Jewish and the other is a foreign national;

    c) a person is considered of Jewish race if born to a Jewish mother and an unknown father;

    d) a person is considered of Jewish race if, although born to parents of Italian nationality of which only one is of Jewish race, they profess the Jewish faith, or are in any event a member of a Jewish Community, or have in any other way made manifestations of Judaism. A person is not considered of Jewish race if born to parents of Italian nationality, of which only one is of Jewish race, who, on 1 October 1938, professes a different religion to the Jewish faith. 

    This Royal Decree-Law (R.D.L.) stated moreover in Article 13 that employees of «Jewish race» were to be excluded from the civil and military administration of the state and from administrative bodies in the localities, from the National Fascist Party and its organisations, from state-controlled bodies and from companies under municipal control, and, in general, from all public bodies and institutions, even those under autonomous administration, which were monitored by or under the supervision of the state, and to whose upkeep the state contributed on a continuous basis. The list continued with «the management boards of companies affiliated to or directly dependent on the bodies referred to at e) above, or those which obtain from them the main means of realising their aims, as well as companies with up to 50% capital from state funds; the management boards of National Interest Banks; the management boards of private insurance companies». The Minister of the Interior could, on a case by case basis after evaluating special merit gained for wartime service or service to fascism, declare the non-applicability of the provisions, setting in motion a process known as «discrimination».  


    Regio decreto 21 novembre 1938, n. 2154 - Modifications to the statute of the National Fascist Party (GU no. 36, 13 February 1939).

    Regio decreto legge 22 dicembre 1938, n. 2111Measures relating to the absolute discharge and retirement conditions of military personnel of the Armed Forces of the state of Jewish race (GU no. 30, 6 February 1939) converted without modification into Law no. 739, 2 June 1939 (GU no. 131, 5 June 1939).

    Regio decreto legge 9 febbraio 1939, n. 126Regulations for the implementation and integration of the measures in Article 10 of the Royal Decree-Law of 17 November 1938, XVII, no. 1728, relating to the limits placed on the ownership of real estate and the industrial and commercial activities of Italian citizens of Jewish race (GU, no. 35, 11 February 1939), converted with modifications into Law no. 739, 2 June 1939.

    Regio decreto 27 marzo 1939, n. 665Approval of the statute of the Agency for the Management and Liquidation of Real Estate (EGELI) (GU no. 110, 10 May 1939).

    Legge 29 giugno 1939, n. 1054 - Regulation of the exercise of professions by citizens of Jewish race (GU no. 179, 2 August 1939).
    This law introduced the total exclusion (without even the possibility of «discrimination» for special merit) from professions closely connected to public law: notaries, court-appointed administrators and certified auditors. Regarding the right to exercise other professions listed in Article 1 – «physicians and surgeons, pharmacists, veterinary surgeons, midwives, lawyers, prosecuting and defence lawyers, financial advisors, accountants, engineers, architects, chemists, agronomists, surveyors, agricultural and industrial consultants» – the law made a distinction between membership of two types of professional register: one included those who had been «discriminated» who could continue to exercise their professions with certain limitations; the other included those who were not «discriminated» who were allowed to exercise their professions «exclusively for the benefit of persons of Jewish race».

    Legge 13 luglio 1939, n. 1024 - Supplementary regulations to Royal Decree-Law, 17 November 1938 – XVII, no. 1728, for the Defence of the Italian Race (GU no. 174, 27 July 1939).
    Article 1 stated that «the Minister of the Interior has the power, in agreement with the commission referred to in Article 2, to declare who is not to be considered of Jewish race, even when such a decision goes counter to civil status documentation». In practice it was the Minister of the Interior as well as the Head of Government, Benito Mussolini, who decided who did and who did not belong to the so-called «Jewish race», without regard to any other criteria. This discretionary power, made unchallengeable by the leggi fascistissime cited above, endorsed the inextricable link between the person of Mussolini and the Jewish question. According to the thesis formulated by Arnaldo Momigliano in his Ottavo contributo alla storia degli studi classici e del mondo antico, «For Mussolini, the so-called racial campaign was also an attempt at cancelling his own past» (Rome, Ed. Storia e Letteratura, 1987, p. 366).


    Legge 13 luglio 1939, n. 1055Measures relating to inheritance and regulation of surnames for those belonging to the Jewish race (GU no. 179, 2 August 1939).


    Legge 13 luglio 1939, n. 1056Changes to the classification of Group A civil servants of the civil administration of the Ministry of the Interior (GU no. 179, 2 August 1939).


    Legge 23 maggio 1940, n. 587 Concession of an additional pension allowance to state employees for whom removal from office is precluded, whose service was terminated in execution of the Royal Decree-Law 17 November 1938 XVII, no. 1728, until attainment of the maximum retirement age (GU no. 143, 19 June 1940).


    Decreto Ministeriale 30 luglio 1940Calculation of contributions owing by professionals of Jewish race (GU no. 12, 16 January 1941).


    Legge 28 settembre 1940 - n. 1403Cancellation of the state contribution to Jewish nursery schools as established in Law no. 343, 30 July 1896 (GU no. 245, 18 October 1940).


    Legge 28 settembre 1940 - n. 1459Supplementary additions to Law no. 1055, 13 July 1939-XVII, containing measures relating to inheritance and regulation of surnames for those belonging to the Jewish race (GU no. 256, 31 October 1940).


    Legge 24 febbraio 1941, n. 158Authorisation to the Agency for the management and liquidation of real estate (EGELI) to delegate the management and sale of real estate within their remit to mortgage lending institutions (GU no. 79, 2 April 1941).


    Legge 19 aprile 1942, n. 517Exclusion of Jewish participation in the field of entertainment (GU no. 126, 28 May 1942). 

    The law prohibited «Italians, foreigners and stateless individuals belonging to the Jewish race, even with “discriminated” status, as well as companies represented, administered or directed in whole or in part by persons of Jewish race from participating in any way in the field of entertainment». In particular, the following articles:

    2. The performance, execution, public projection and phonographic recording of any work in which Italian, foreign or stateless authors or performers belonging to the Jewish race participate or have participated, or in whose execution persons of Jewish race have in any way taken part, are prohibited. Similarly, the sale of phonographic recordings and the import of master discs, as set out in the preceding subparagraph, as well as reproduction from master discs are also prohibited.

    3. It is forbidden to make use in any way in film production of subjects, scripts, literary, dramatic, musical, scientific or artistic works, or of any other contribution whose authors belong to the Jewish race; nor can film production, dubbing or post-synchronisation employ or use artistic, technical, administrative or managerial personnel belonging to the Jewish race.


    Legge 9 ottobre 1942, n. 1420Curtailment of legal capacity for persons belonging to the Jewish race resident in Libya (GU no. 298, 17 December 1942).