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

Bruno Benedetto Rossi (1905-1993)

Venice 13 April 1905 - Cambridge (MA) 21 November 1993

Lives on the move

Emigrant family members

  • Nora Lombroso Rossi (Genoa 1914 - New York 2009) wife: law degree; anti-fascist as was all her family; emigrated with Bruno to the US where she held various jobs, including Italian language teacher at Cornell University, where her husband was employed; also, chef and art importer and staff worker at Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project. She had three children: Florence (Ithaca 7 December 1940 -), later a teacher at various school levels in Sunnyvale, CA; Frank (Los Alamos 10 November 1944 -), medical photographer and lab technician in Boston, MA; and Linda (Cambridge, MA, 19 March 1953), strategic/marketing advisor and financial educator in New York. She never returned to Italy permanently, and all her children remained in the US.
  • Giorgio Rossi (Venice 24 May 1909 - Milan 17 May 1967), younger brother with twin brother Ruggero. He lived with his mother, Lina Minerbi, at the Lido of Venice and probably hid in Switzerland with her after 1943 (per Linda Rossi). He had a degree in agricultural science and taught at the Jewish School after the institution of the Race Laws. Assisted Jewish emigrés (DELASEM), 1939-1947, and acted as a delegate to the Hebrew Community of Venice in the Office of Deportees, and as liaison to the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), 1944, and the Research Committee of Jewish Deportees (CRDE), 1944-1953. He returned to Italy. 
  • Ruggero Rossi (Venice 24 May 1909 - Venice 1993), younger brother with his twin, Giorgio: he married Bianca Voghera, with whom he had a child, Raphae,l who resides in Israel. They probably took refuge in Switzerland, re-entering Italy in Milan (per Linda Rossi).
  • Ugo Lombroso (Turin 15 October 1877 - Genoa 10 April 1952) father-in-law: physiology professor at the University of Genoa, was expelled and moved temporarily to Paris in 1938; worked as “maître de recherche” at the School of Medicine. He returned to Italy with his wife, living in hiding and reestablished his career after the war.
  • Silvia Forti Lombroso (Verona 2 January 1889 - Rome July 1979) mother-in-law. She followed her husband, Ugo Lombroso, in his moves in Italy and Paris. Returning to Italy after 1943, they hid in Tuscany using false identities. A writer, she was widowed in 1952 and the following year went to Cambridge, MA, where her two children, Nora and Cesare, were living with their respective families. After 1956, she bought a family home there and spent some months a year in Rome (per Anna Lombroso).
  • Cesare Lombroso (Rome 1917 - Cambridge, MA, 2013); brother-in-law: he left Italy in 1939 to go to the US. In New York, in 1943, he married Irena "Rysia" Kister (Vilnius, formerly Poland, now Lithuania, 1 April 1923 - Cambridge, MA, 2 September 2012), psychologist. They had three children: Claudia G.S. (New York 1946), Anna (Genoa 1948), and Paul (USA 1950). After the war, they came to Italy where Cesare resumed his studies in Genoa and Rome; in 1950 he returned to the US and became a renowned childhood neuropsychiatrist at Childrens' Hospital Medical Center in Boston. They never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Leo Ferrero (Turin 1903 - Santa Fe, USA, 1933), wife’s cousin: graduated from Florence in 1926 in Art history, writer. In 1938 he left for London, then went to Paris in voluntary exile, and in 1932 he moved to the US, with a fellowship from the Rockefeller Foundation. He died at an early age in an automobile accident.
  • Nina Ferrero Raditsa (Turin 1910 - Strada in Chianti, Firenze 4 September 1987), wife’s cousin, in 1935 she married Bogdan Raditsa, diplomat, with whom she had two children: Bosiljka born in 1939, artist in New York, and Leo Raditsa. She immigrated to the US with her family in 1940 and taught languages at Fairleigh Dickinson University until 1977; she was secretary for the International League for Human Rights. She did not return to Italy, but for visiting and spending some periods at the family home in Strada in Chianti.
  • Bogdan Raditsa (or Radica) (Split 1904 - New York 1993), wife’s cousin, and Nina’s husband: a diplomat, he studied in Lubiana and in Florence; in 1924 he was a journalist in Paris and later in Athens; from 1933 to 1939 he was stationed in Geneva as a diplomat at the League of Nations; later in Belgrade; in 1940, he moved to the United States, except for a brief stay in London; and eventually to Belgrade where he settled in 1945, working as a history professor. He never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Guglielmo Ferrero (Portici 1871 - Mont-Pélerin 1942), wife’s uncle: a historian who was respected outside of Italy, in Europe and the United States; he was already under special surveillance by the police during the Crispi years, then was persecuted by the fascists; in 1930, he accepted an invitation from Geneva where he became a professor of contemporary history. He never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Gina Lombroso Ferrero (Pavia 1872 - Geneva 1944), wife’s aunt: graduated with a degree in medicine; author of various books on subjects related to the work of her father, the criminologist Cesare Lombroso; she traveled with her husband Guglielmo Ferrero and in 1930 accompanied him to Geneva where their home became a gathering place for anti-fascist exiles. She never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Paola Lombroso Carrara (Pavia 14 March 1871 - Turin 23 January 1954), wife’s aunt: Cesare Lombroso’s firstborn, and the most politically active; journalist, writer and psychologist, she was married in 1899 to Mario Carrara who lost his university position in 1931 for having refused to take the Fascist oath; she was widowed in 1937, and after the passage of the racial laws, she moved to Geneva with her sister. After Gina’s death, she returned to Italy.

Aid organisations

  • Emergency Committee in Aid of Displaced Foreign Scholars, New York
  • Society for the Protection of Science and Learning, London
  • Physics Committee of the Royal Society, London


References named by Rossi on the SPSL questionnaire:

  • Enrico Fermi (1901-1954), University of Rome, Nobel Prize in Physics in 1938;
  • Werner Heisenberg (1901-1976), University of Leipzig, Nobel Prize in Physics in 1932;
  • Walter Bothe (1891-1957), Kaiser Wilhelm Institute, Heidelberg, Nobel Prize in Physics in 1954;
  • Duke Maurice de Broglie (1875-1960), physicist, Académie française, Paris.
Actual references:
  • Niels Bohr (1885-1962), Institut for Teoretisk Fysik, Copenhagen, Nobel Prize in Physics in 1922, reference at the request of SPSL;
  • Arthur Compton (1892-1962), University of Chicago, Nobel Prize in Physics in 1927, reference for the ECADFS.

Support network

  • Giancarlo Vallauri (1882-1957), Accademia d’Italia: in 1938 procured a passport and a sum of money to allow him to complete a fellowship abroad that he had obtained six years earlier and was subsequently interrupted. 
  • Niels Bohr: invited him to Copenhagen as a guest in October 1938 and helped him find a job.
  • Patrick Blackett (1897-1974), Nobel Prize in Physics in 1948: invited him to Manchester in November 1938, and procured a grant from SPSL and further financing, supporting him from September 1938 to June 1939.
  • Arthur Compton: searched for finances for him in the US; contacted ECADGS in November 1938; obtained financing for two years to call Rossi in April 1939 and had the University of Chicago finance his trip from England in June.
  • William and Lessing J. Rosenwald, Rosenwald Fund: recommended him to ECADFS.
  • David Cleghorn Thomson (1900-1980), SPSL: recommended him to the American Consulate in London; presented him as the sole candidate for a Research Fellowship from the Royal Society of London in March 1939, and agreed to finance him during his first three months in the US, until 31 August 31 1939.
  • Enrico Fermi and his wife Laura Capon Fermi: welcomed him and Nora when they arrived in New York in June 1939; 
  • Hans Bethe (1906-2005), Nobel Prize in Physics in 1967: he accompanied him with Nora from New York to Chicago in June 1939; in April 1940 he recommended Rossi to the Department of Physics of Cornell University for the post of Associate Professor.



Birth and education

  • Student

University studies

  • Università di Padova
  • Student

University studies

  • Università di Bologna
  • Student

University Assistant

  • Università di Firenze, Istituto di fisica of Arcetri: from 1 November 1928 assistant, from 1 November 1930 to 31 January 1933 "aiuto" in charge.
  • Fixed-term employment
  • Junior lecturer


  • CNR Scholarship at the Physikalische-Technische Reichsanstalt, May-September 1930
  • Fixed-term employment
  • Junior lecturer

"Aiuto" in charge

  • Università di Padova


  • Foreign Research Fellowship from the Italian Academy for the Duc Maurice de Broglie’s private institute
  • Fixed-term employment
  • Junior lecturer

Professor in Padova

  • From December 1932 professor "straordinario" and from April 1936 professor "ordinario" of experimental physics. Missions: expedition to Eritrea assigned by the CNR and the Colonial Ministry, 1933; Physics Meeting in London, 1934; Physics meeting in Moscow, 1935; Stuttgart, cosmic rays research, 1937.

Welcomed in Denmark after the expulsion

  • Copenhagen, Institute for Theoretical Physics, October 1938
  • Fixed-term employment
  • Unpaid university lecturer

Stay in Great Britain

  • Physics Laboratories of the University of Manchester, December 1938; SPSL grant from January 1939.
  • Fixed-term employment
  • Untenured professor

Emigration to the US

  • Chicago University, from June 1939
  • Fixed-term employment
  • Untenured professor
1940Ithaca (NY)

Associate Professor at Cornell University

  • Cornell University, from autumn 1940
  • Stable employment
  • Tenured professor
1943Los Alamos

Manhattan Project

  • Stable employment
  • Tenured professor
1946Cambridge (MA)

Professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

  • From November 1945 to 1970
  • Stable employment
  • Tenured professor

Professor at University of Palermo

  • University of Palermo 1974-1980, commuting to the US
  • Stable employment
  • Tenured professor
1993Cambridge (MA)