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

Carla Coen Pekelis (1907-1985)

Rome 8 April 1907 - New York 7 October 1985

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Emigrant family members

  • Alessandro Pekelis (Odessa, Russian empire 7 April 1902 – Shannon, Ireland 28 December 1946), husband: emigrated from Russia to Germany and Austria; he settled in Italy in October 1921. Here, he became a lawyer, assistente volontario at the University of Florence, and libero docente at the University of Rome. An anti-fascist and a Zionist, in 1938 he emigrated with his family to France, and, in December 1940, to the US, where he worked at the New School and the Columbia Law Schools. He died in a plane crash in Ireland, leaving his wife Carla and five children: Daniela, Simona, Rossella, Haim (16 September 1941 –) financial advisor in Los Angeles, and Alessandra «Coco» (22 August 1945 –), a writer in NY like her husband, David Dalton.  They never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Daniela Ada Miriam Pekelis Siena (Florence 1 July 1933 – Odon, Indiana 21 December 2020), firstborn daughter: emigrated with her parents to the US in December 1940, when she was five. She graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 1954 and M.M.F.T Phillips Graduate Institute in 1996. Between 1955 and 1956, she worked in Italy, in Ivrea, as a secretary for Adriano Olivetti and later worked for the Olivetti company in the US. She worked as an Italian diction coach for many important lyrical theatres and became a psychotherapist. She never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Simona Luciana Raimonda Emanuela Pekelis, later Simona McCray (Florence 23 February 1936 –), daughter: emigrated with her family to the US in December 1940, graduated from B.A. Sarah Lawrence College in 1957. Singer and Executive VP of WQXR Radio, she lives in New York with her husband, Ken Peterson. She had two children. She never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Rossella Carla Alessandra Pekelis later Rosselle (Florence 10 July 1938 – Seattle 9 December 2019), daughter: arrived in the US when she was two. She became a lawyer and a judged and was nominated to the State of Washington Supreme Court in 1986. She married three times and had four children: three with her first husband, Robert Higgins, and one with his second, Gordon Jones. She never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Ada Ascoli Coen (Ancona 13 October 1891 – Ancona 4 August 1967), mother: emigrated with her daughter Carla to the US in 1940. She returned to Italy.
  • Guido Coen (Ancona 10 September 1908 – Washington 26 October 1987), brother: lawyer, was the first to emigrate to New York in December 1938. He declared he would live with a cousin and left his wife, Elsa, and their children Luciano and Paolo in Florence. In 1948, he married Gail Gertrude Blashow Benedict. He never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Luciana Meira Coen Luciana Meira Coen (Ancona?, 4 March 1910 – Israel 1991), sister: married to Mario Aharon Ottolenghi, a fervent Zionist, she emigrated with him to Mandatory Palestine. They had three children: Micael, Miriam «Memmi», and Alisa, who stayed in Israel. She never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Mario (later Aharon) Ottolenghi (Florence 7 March 1904 - Ramat Gan, Israel 11 March 1978), brother-in-law, Luciana's husband: a Zionist, emigrated with his wife to Mandatory Palestine. They had three children: Micael, Miriam «Memmi», and Alisa, who stayed in Israel. He never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Emanuele Pekelis (Odessa, Russian empire 11 January 1904 – Jasper, Walker, Alabama, USA 8 April 1979), brother-in-law: physician, emigrated with his family to Florence in 1922, where he got his degree in medicine and started working. He was removed from the professional order after the racial laws ad emigrated to France in 1939. From there, he emigrated to New York in the same year. In the USA, he found work in different States. On 18 April 1943, he married Rosemarie Milly Lenel. He never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Rosemarie Milly Lenel Pekelis, (Mannheim, Germany 11 November 1916 – Alameda, California, USA 14 April 1981), sister-in-law: Emanuele’s wife, a cardiologist of Jewish descent, she took refuge in Switzerland, where her brother Heinz Walter Lenel lived. In 1939 she was helped by the International Student Service (ISS) to emigrate to the US and continue her studies. She married Emanuel Pekelis on 18 April 1943. In 1952 she worked at the Kaiser Hospital in Oakland, where she remained until her retirement in 1976. She also participated in humanitarian activities. The couple split in the 1950s. She never returned to Europe permanently.
  • Raimondo Pekelis (Odessa 25 July 1907 – ?), brother-in-law: emigrated to Italy. He was the only member of the family not to emigrate to the US. He was interned on the Gran Sasso and later in Ferramonti (Cosenza) in May 1942. His name is on the list of liberated people of a Displaced persons camp in Switzerland. He returned to Italy.
  • Maria Rosa (Miriam Reisl or Raizel) Levinson Pekelis (Grodno, Russian empire 21 January 1872 – New Rochelle, New York 5 November 1945), mother-in-law: emigrated to Italy in 1922 with her husband and, widowed, followed her son Alexander and her daughter-in-law Carla to France in 1938. Later, the family emigrated to the US in 1940, leaving Lisbon. She never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Haim Pekelis (Berdichev, Russian empire 11 January 1904 – Florence 1929), father-in-law: fur trader, emigrated to Italy in 1922 with his wife, joining their son Alexander. Eight years later, he died due to complications after surgery.