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

Ada Vera Bernstein Viterbo (1902-1987)

Milan 8 September 1902 - Florence 7 November 1987

Lives on the move

Emigrant family members

  • Dario Viterbo (Florence 1890 - New York USA 1961), husband: sculptor, goldsmith, chiseler, engraver, moved in 1926 to Paris, where he joined his wife, Ada. Watched by the police as an anti-fascist, in 1940, they left Paris, and after moving around France, in April 1941, they emigrated to New York. He never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Arrigo Bernstein (Milan 25 July 1896 - Milan 15 June 1957), brother: an air force lieutenant, he worked for real estate company Excelsior di Milano until the anti-Semitic sanctions; emigrated with his wife Elena Verona and three children to France, and in May 1940 to New York when Sergio, Myriam Mirella, Vera Graziella were 12, 5, and 2 years old. In September 1940, he became an actual member of the New York Produce Exchange, a stock exchange for agricultural products. He returned to Milan in 1954 and died three years later.
  • Elena Carolina Verona Bernstein (Genoa 14 March 1901 - Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA, 20 January 1992), sister-in-law: followed her husband Arrigo in his migration from France to the USA, while her brother Giorgio Verona (1898-1971) emigrated to Buenos Aires, from where he never returned. A widow, she stayed with her son Sergio in New Mexico. She never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Sergio Bernstein (Milan 11 July 1928 - Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA, 8 February 2002), nephew: firstborn of her brother Arrigo, emigrated with his family to France and, in May 1940, to the USA. He never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Myriam Mirella Bernstein Lubow (Milan 17 October 1935 - Kirkland, King, Washington, 18 July 2008), niece: married New Yorker Milton Joseph Lubow (9 March 1920 - 6 November 2011). She never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Vera Graziella Bernstein (Milan 1938-?) niece: emigrated at two years old with her parents to New York; other information not found. 
  • Marta Bernstein Navarra (Milan 1 January 1895 - 1 September 1965), sister: exiled with her husband Alberto Navarra from 1943 to 1945 to Lugano (Switzerland). After earning her degree, in French Language and Literature in 1916 and English Language and Literature, she dedicated herself to teaching in Pavia and from 1921 at the all-girls high school Manzoni in Milan and to her teaching position at l’Unione femminile nazionale, l’Asilo Mariuccia and l’Associazione delle donne ebree d’Italia (ADEI). In 1924, she gave birth to her son Dario Angelo. Expelled in 1938 from teaching in public schools, she taught English at the Jewish school on Via Eupili in Milan. After her time in Switzerland, she returned to Milan in the postwar period. She became president of Adei-Wizo restored in 1945, and she dedicated herself to assisting refugees. In 1963 she moved with her husband to an Israeli kibbutz (part of the monographic dedicated to her by the Adei-Wizo bimonthly, “Il Portavoce,” 6, 1985).
  • Alberto Navarra (Milan 10 June 1889-?) brother-in-law: exiled from 1943 to 1945 to Lugano (interview of Gigliola Colombo to Dario Navarra, CDEC 1985).
  • Elda Bernstein Majno (Milan 18 June 1893 - Lugano, Switzerland, 9 January 1944), sister: married from 1915 to anti-fascist lawyer Edoardo Majno, son of the founder of l’Unione femminile nazionale, exiled to Lugano in 1943 with her children and died a few months later due to a heart problem.
  • Edoardo Majno (Milan 1886-1995) brother-in-law: husband of Elda Bernstein and son of Ersilia Majno, the founder of l’Unione femminile nazionale, lawyer, general secretary of Comitato nazionale italiano contro la tratta delle donne e dei fanciulli, he was later president of l’ Asilo Mariuccia and a member of Consiglio del Museo artistico Poldi Pezzoli. Exiled to Lugano from 1943 with his wife and children. Returned to Italy after the war.
  • Luigi, Carlo, and Guido Majno (see photo in 1937), nephews: sons of Elda Bernstein, exiled to Switzerland as adolescents; they were first sent to the labour camps at Pian San Giacomo and later able to attend higher education in Geneva, where Carlo and Guido respectively studied Law and Medicine (Renata Broggini, Terra d’asilo. I rifugiati italiani in Svizzera 1943-45, Bologna, Il Mulino, 1993, pp. 183 e 538). 
  • Giorgio Bernstein (Milan 1889-1951), brother: manufacturer, joined his relatives in Switzerland in April 1944 with his wife and children. 
  • Alma Bernstein Pasquinelli (Milan, 13 December 1897 - Milan 1973), sister: exiled to Lugano from December 1943 to 1945. She was married to music professor Emilio Pasquinelli and the mother of Francesco Pasquinelli (1922-2011), who would become a pianist and a manufacturer, and Emma Pasquinelli (1921-1980). The latter would become an architect and the wife of famous architect Enrico Peressutti (1908-1976), who was a partner of the firm BBPR, an acronym of its founders Ludovico Barbiano di Belgiojoso (deported to Gusen concentration camp), Gian Luigi Banfi (died in Gusen in 1945), Enrico Peressutti, and Ernst Nathan Rogers. In 1939 Peressutti switched over to Giustizia e Libertà and later to CLN. From 1950 he became a university professor of architecture in London and from 1952 at MIT in Boston and Princeton University, while in Italy, he held various positions but no academic roles.
  • Manlio Immanuel Ascarelli (Ferrara 30 November 1919 - Rehovot 1999), nephew: son of Wanda Bernstein and Giacomo Ascarelli, mandatory emigration to Palestine in the Summer of 1939, and after the Miqveh Israel school, he enrolled in English instruction; on 19 May 1946 he married Roma Wessel, born in1926 in Serbia, and they have two children born in Rehovot. Joined the Jewish Brigade under the name Arie Meged and taught in the Faculty of Agriculture in Rehovot. He never returned to Italy permanently.

Aid organisations

  • Italian Emergency Rescue Committee 
  • Emergency Committe in Aid of Displaced Foreign Scholars, New York (non as an assistant but as the wife of one of their ECADFS Fellows)


  • Randolfo Pacciardi (Gavorrano, Grosseto, 1 January 1899 - Rome 14 April 1991) in the summer of 1940, recommended Dario and Ada to the antifascist network of aid to help them get to the USA.
  • Alberto Tarchiani (1885-1964), journalist and politician, recently arrived in New York, and Serafino Romualdi (1900-1967), typographer, established journalist since 1926 in New York; in 1941, they helped Ada obtain visas for herself and her husband.

Support network

  • Luigi Campolonghi (1876-1944): the journalist and his family took Ada Vera Bernstein and Dario Viterbo into their home in Bordeaux for a day (Summer 1940) while they were on the run.
  • Brother Arrigo Bernstein (1896-1957) and sister-in-law Elena Verona: hosted Ada and her husband in New York for the first five months (April-August 1941).
  • Other family members and acquaintances connected to the work of her husband, Dario Viterbo.



Birth and Education

  • Job as a bank teller
  • Student,Stable employment
  • Office worker

Reunion with Husband


Fleeing from Paris

  • 13 June 1940 Escape from Paris, abandoning everything due to the Nazis' advancement; 23 June 1940 stop-over in Bordeaux; 24 June - 24 July 1940 Mont Gaillard; 2 September 1940 - 28 February 1941 Marseille.
  • Unemployed

Passing through Portugal

  • March 1941, following three days in Madrid.
1941New York

Emigration to the USA

  • Work as a seamstress; traveled to Europe almost every summer from 1947.
  • Unemployed,Freelance job
  • Others

Return to Florence

  • Widowed; returned to Florence mainly to look after her husband's works.