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

Antonello Gerbi (1904-1976)

Florence 15 May 1904 - Civenna 26 July 1976

Lives on the move

Emigrant family members

  • Herma Schimmerling Gerbi (Vienna 21 October 1912 - Milan 21 September 2012), wife: Austrian-born of Jewish origin, she met Gerbi in Vienna in 1931 when she worked in a photo lab. After the Anschluss in 1938, she fled Vienna and left for London; in September 1939 she left to join her boyfriend in Peru. They got married in Lima in January 1940. They had two children: Daniele and Sandro. Following her husband, she and the children returned to Italy in 1948.
  • Daniele Gerbi (Lima 28 November 1941), son: he moved to Italy in 1948 with his family when he was 6 and a half years old. In Milan, he obtained his high school diploma and obtained a law degree. He worked in the Banca Commerciale for ten years before becoming an independent contractor.
  • Sandro Gerbi (Lima 31 October 1943), son: born in Peru, moved to Italy with his family in 1948. In Milano, he obtained his high school diploma and obtained a law degree. He became a financial journalist and dedicated himself to research, writing, and cultural journalism.
  • Giuliano Gerbi (Florence 26 December 1905 - Genoa 25 January 1976), brother: he was a sports journalist with the Ente Italiano per le Audizioni Radiofoniche. Due to the racial laws, he was fired in November 1938. He went first to Paris and then to Barranquilla in Colombia. There, he worked at Sudameris, a branch of the Comit. In 1942, he moved to the United States of America and became a speaker for New York’s Italian language radio station WOV. He then worked in the Office of War Information, in the Italian Section of the Voice of America. He alternated between working as a radio broadcast journalist and stockbroker. He returned to Italy in 1949.
  • Claudio Gerbi (Florence 1907 - New York 1990), brother: doctor, was fired from the Maggiore di Milano Hospital due to the implementation of the racial laws in 1938. During this time, he emigrated to the United States (on September 14, before his two brothers). He moved to Boston before settling down in Cleveland. In 1942, he moved his office to Manhattan, New York, where he continued his practice until he was 80 years old. He never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Edmo Gerbi (Florence 1874 - Lima 1944), father: stockbroker by profession following in his family’s footsteps. In the spring of 1939, he emigrated from Florence to the United States. He went to his son’s in Cleveland. His son, however, occupied with his profession as a doctor, would not take care of him. In the summer of 1940, he moved to Lima to his son Antonello’s. He had a difficult time adjusting and died four years later. He never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Alessandro Levi (Venice 19 November 1881 - Bern 5 September 1953), uncle: he was the younger brother of Gerbi’s mother, Iginia Levi. He became a university professor in 1907. He was expelled from the University of Parma in 1938 due to the racial laws. He was a militant antifascist since 1924-1925. He was sent into internal exile in Pescara in 1940. After 25 July 1943, he returned to Florence; he sought refuge in Switzerland with his wife Sarina Nathan and he taught law with Luigi Einaudi in Geneva. He eventually returned to Italy where he continued to teach.
  • Sarina Nathan Levi (Livorno 16 July 1884 - Florence 22 December 1976), aunt: she came from a British family of British origin and her relatives were sympathizers of Mazzini. Her uncle Ernesto Nathan had been the mayor of Rome. She married Alessandro Levi in 1911 in Florence. She and her husband lived in Geneva as exiles. She eventually returned to Italy.
  • Piero Treves (Milan 17 November 1911 - Nice 7 July 1992), cousin: son of the socialist deputy Claudio and Olga Levi. He graduated in 1931 and specialized in the history of the ancient world. He was unable to engage in academic activities due to political and then racial reasons. He emigrated to England at the end of September 1938 with his mother and brother Paolo. He settled in Cambridge and obtained a scholarship to study at St. John’s College. In 1941 he followed his brother to BBC as a translator, announcer, and political journalist for Radio London. He returned to Italy in 1955 and by 1962 had received a position as professor.
  • Paolo Treves (Milan 27 July 1908 - Fregenae 4 August 1958), cousin: Piero’s older brother. He graduated with a law degree in 1929. He was restricted from engaging in academic activity due to his political positions. In September of 1938, he moved to England with his brother and mother. He had various jobs before finding a stable position at the BBC in 1940. He became a speaker for Radio London. He returned to Italy in 1945. In addition to his political activities and his position in government from 1948 to 1958, he began teaching at Università di Firenze from 1950 until his premature death.


Support network

  • Raffaele Mattioli (1895-1973), managing director and direct boss of Gerbi: provided classified information on the preparation of the racial laws in the summer of 1938. He helped organize Gerbi’s move to Peru between September and October. He urged Gerbi to leave and put pressure on Roman authorities to grant him a visa.
  • Gino Salocchi (1882-1951), managing director of the Banco Italiano di Lima: he welcomed Gerbi and gave him means to carry out commissioned research on the history of Peru.



Birth and Education

  • Student

Move to Livorno with Family

  • Student

Move to Rome with Family

  • Liceo classico Tasso
  • Student

Move to Milan with Family

  • Liceo classico Berchet
  • Student

University Student

  • Università di Sapienza
  • Student

Graduation and Launch of his Professional Career

  • Università di Milano, degree in law; in this time he collaborated with various journals and magazines and became an attorney.
  • Student,Freelance job,Stable employment
  • Official,Journalist

Academic Stay

  • Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität; attending the lectures of historian Friedrich Meinecke.
  • Student

Academic Stay

  • In Vienna with professor Alfred Pribram, various travels in France, Holland, Belgium, Germany, England, and Hungary.
  • Student

Academic Stay

  • London School of Economics, an internship at the Midland Bank and travels throughout England and France.
  • Student

Employee at Comit

  • Banca Commerciale italiana
  • Stable employment
  • Official
1938New York

Layover in the United States

  • Unemployed
1938Lima, Peru

  • Attorney at the Banco italiano (starting in 1942 Banco de Crédito del Perù), and from 1940 chief of the Sección Estudios Ecónomicos.
  • Stable employment
  • Official

First Trip back to Italy


Return to Lima


Definitive Return to Italy

  • Direzione dell'Ufficio studi Comit
  • Stable employment
  • Official
1976Civenna (Como)