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

Emanuele (Emanuel) Pekelis (1904-1979)

Odessa, Russian Empire, now Ukraine, 1 January 1904 - Jasper, Alabama, 8 aprile 1979

Lives on the move

Emigrant family members

  • Rosemarie Milly Lenel (Mannheim, Germany, 11 November 1916 - Alameda, California, 14 April 1981), wife: cardiologist, of Jewish origins, she escaped at first to Switzerland where her brother Heinz Walter Lenel lived, and then emigrated to the United States in 1939 to continue her education, thanks to the International Student Service (ISS). She and Emanuele married in 1943 and divorced in the 1950s. In 1952 she started working at the Kaiser Hospital in Oakland until her retirement in 1976. She never returned to Europe permanently. 
  • Maria Rosa Levinson (Grodno, Russian Empire, January 1873 -?), mother: married with Haim Pekelis (? Russia - Florence 1922), a fur merchant. She emigrated with her family to Florence in 1922, where Haim died soon after for complications after a surgical operation. In 1938 she emigrated to France with her son Alessandro and her daughter-in-law Carla. Soon after the family emigrated again to the United States, leaving Lisbon in 1940. She never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Alessandro Pekelis (Odessa, Russian Empire, 7 April 1902 - Shannon, Ireland, 28 December 1946), brother: the first of the Pekelis family to move to Italy in 1922, he became lawyer, assistente volontario at the University of Florence and later libero docente in Philosophy of law at the University of Rome. He emigrated to France with his family in 1938 and soon after to the United States in 1940. He died in a plane crash in Ireland. He never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Raimondo Pekelis (Odessa, Russian Empire, 25 July 1907 -?), brother: he moved to Italy with the family in 1922. He was the only one not to emigrate to the United States and since 1940 was interned in Isola del Gran Sasso, and later in Ferramonti, near Cosenza. He probably managed to escape to Switzerland.
  • Carla Coen Pekelis (Rome April 1907 - New York 7 October 1985), sister-in-law: daughter of Dante and Ada Ascoli. Her father was the owner of the Settepassi jewellery store on the Ponte Vecchio in Florence. She emigrated with her husband and her three daughters to the United States in 1940: Daniela Ada Miriam (Florence 1933 - Odom, Indiana, 2020), Simona Luciana Raimonda Emanuela (Florence July 1936 -?), and Rossella Carla Alessandra (Florence 10 July 1938 -?). They left together with Carla's mother, Ada Ascoli Coen, and Alessandro's mother, Maria Rosa Levinson. She never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Guido Coen (Ancona 10 September 1908 - Washington 26 October 1987), Carla's brother: lawyer, was the first of the family to emigrate to New York in 1939. In 1948 he married Gail Gertrude Blashow Benedict. He never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Luciana Meira Coen (? 4 March 1910 - Palestine 1991), Carla's sister: married to Mario Aharon Ottolenghi (1904-1978), a fervent Zionist, they emigrated to Mandatory Palestine. She never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Mario Aharon Ottolenghi (Florence 7 March 1904 - Ramat Gan, Israel 11 March 1978), brother-in-law, Luciana's husband: a firm Zionist, he emigrated with his wife in Mandatory Palestine. He never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Ada Ascoli Coen (Ancona October 1891 - ?), Carla's mother: she emigrated with her family to the United States in 1940.

Support network

  • Tacta Levinson (Russia ?-?), Mrs. «T. Tchlenoff», maternal aunt: widow of Emanuel Tchlenoff, she lived with her daughter Rya (Russian Empire 29 September 1910 - Roswell, Chaves, New Mexico, August 1984) in New York. She provided her address (3569 Broadway, New York) as a reference for the Pekelis when they arrived in New York.


1904Odessa (Russian Empire, now Ukraine)

Birth and education


Student and then doctor in Florence

  • Student at the University of Florence; since 1928 assistente volontario at the Institute of Pathologic Anotomy, University of Florence; in 1929 he entered in the association of doctors; in 1938 he was expelled from the Accademia medico-fisica in Florence.
  • Student,Freelance job
  • Doctor / Dentist,Junior lecturer

Emigration to France

  • Paris; Marseille
  • Unemployed
1939New York

Emigration to the United States

  • Unemployed
1940Wichita (Kansas)

Work as a doctor

  • St Francis Hospital and Nurse Home
  • Stable employment
  • Doctor / Dentist
1948Sioux Falls (South Dakota)

Work as a doctor

  • McKennan Hospital
  • Stable employment
  • Doctor / Dentist
1956Camarillo (California)

Work as a pathologist

  • Camarillo State Mental Hospital
  • Stable employment
  • Doctor / Dentist
1979Jasper (Alabama)