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

Massimo Calabresi (1903-1988)

Ferrara 2 June 1903 - New Haven (Connecticut, USA), 28 February 1988

Lives on the move

Emigrant family members

  • Bianca Maria Finzi Contini Calabresi (Milan 27 May 1902 - Perugia 19 January 1982), wife: in September 1939, she emigrated with her husband and children to the United States of America, where she then continued her studies and became a professor of literature. She never returned to Italy permanently. 
  • Paul Calabresi (Milan 5 April 1930 - Providence 25 October 2003), son: emigrated to the US with his family when he was nine years old. He became an internationally renowned oncologist and was a professor at Yale, then Brown University. He had three children with his wife, Celia Treadway Gow. He never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Guido Calabresi (Milan 18 October 1932 -), son: emigrated to the US with his family when he was seven years old. He was a distinguished jurist at Yale University and a US Court of Appeals judge for the second circuit. He was awarded several honorary degrees and, along with Ronald Coase, is considered a founder of law and economics. He had three children with his wife, Anne Gordon Tyler. He never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Renata Calabresi (Ferrara 2 November 1899 - New Haven 15 December 1995), sister: followed a career in academia and emigrated to New York in 1939. She was a psychologist. She never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Cecilia Calabresi (Ferrara 1 February 1902 - New York 12 March 1985), sister: literature scholar. After September 1943, she and her mother assumed false identities and emigrated to Canada, eventually settling in New York in 1949. She never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Olga Minerbi Calabresi (1876 - New Haven 4 October 1964), mother: in 1949, joined her children in the US and lived with Renata in New York. She never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Marcella Finzi Contini Tedeschi (Bologna 24 November 1909 - ?), sister-in-law: in February 1939, she emigrated with her husband and two children, Ugo and Adriano, to Brazil, where Maria Valeria and Mario were then born. She never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Guido Tedeschi (San Lazzaro di Savena, Bologna 30 July 1909 - ?), brother-in-law: assistant professor of physical chemistry who was expelled from the Politecnico di Milano. He emigrated with his family to Sao Paulo, Brazil, in February 1939. He never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Paolo Contini (Ferrara 14 November 1913 - Alberta, Canada 5 August 1975), second cousin: he received a degree in law from the Università di Ferrara and specialized in international law at the University of California, Berkeley. In 1938 he emigrated to New York, where he worked at the New School. In 1948 he worked for the United Nations and undertook several roles as an expert in international law. He married Jeanne Elgart, and they had three children, one of which died at 19 years old due to a hiking incident in Canada. Employed by the United Nations, he returned to Italy and lived in Rome. 

Aid organisations

  • Dazian Foundation for Medical Research, New York
  • Emergency Sub-Committee for Refugees, British Federation of University Women
  • Society for the Protection of Science and Learning, London


  • Domenico Cesa Bianchi (Varese 16 November 1879 - Milan 27 February 1956), professor at the Faculty of Medicine at Università di Milano;
  • Alberto Pepere (Naples 5 June 1873 - Genoa 8 July 1940), professor of medicine and lecturer at Università di Milano;
  • Max Ascoli (Ferrara 25 June 1898 - New York 1º January 1978), professor at the Graduate Faculty of Social and Political Science New School for Social Research, New York.

Support network

  • Lionello Perera (Venice 5 June 1871 - New York 26 April 1942) and Carolyn Allen Perera (New York 16 November 1883 - New York 24 September 1966), helped Massimo and his wife come to New York in 1939 and helped them with temporary economic troubles.
  • Max Ascoli (Ferrara 25 June 1898 - New York 1 January 1978), a childhood friend of Calabresi. He emigrated to the US in 1931 and became a naturalized citizen. He was a professor at the Graduate Faculty of Social and Political Science at the New School. In 1947, he recommended Calabresi to the Department of Justice Immigration and Naturalization Service for citizenship. 
  • Emanuel Libman (New York 22 August 1872 - New York 28 June 1946), cardiologist and president of the Dazian Foundation for Medical Research in New York. He secured a six-month position for Calabresi at the Department of Internal Medicine at the Yale University School of Medicine with a grant. 




Higher Studies and First University Position

  • Istituto di studi superiori, then Università di Firenze, Faculty of Medicine. In 1926 he graduated and obtained his first position as an assistant professor.
  • Student,Fixed-term employment
  • Junior lecturer

State Exam for Medical License

  • Università di Pavia, Faculty of Medicine.

University Position

  • Università di Milano, Institute of medical pathology. Volunteer assistant, actual assistant professor as of 1931, professorship in special medical pathology in 1932. Released from service and professorship revoked in 1939.
  • Fixed-term employment
  • Unpaid university lecturer,Junior lecturer


  • University of Vienna
  • Fixed-term employment
  • Researcher
1934Gottingën, Germany


  • University of Gottingën
  • Fixed-term employment
  • Researcher
1939New York

Emigration to the United States

  • Unemployed
1940New Haven (Connecticut)

Doctor and Clinical Assistant Professor

  • Yale School of Medicine and West Haven Veterans Administration Hospital
  • Freelance job,Fixed-term employment,Stable employment
  • Doctor / Dentist,Untenured professor,Tenured professor
1946Milan and Florence

Travels in Italy

  • Request for readmission to the Università di Milano.
1946New Haven

Return to the United States

1988New Haven (Connecticut)