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

Paolo Treves (1908-1958)

Milan 27 July 1908 - Fregenae 4 August 1958

Not yet available

Emigrant family members

  • Claudio Treves (Turin 24 March 1869 – Paris 11 June 1933), father: one of the leaders of the Socialist Party and a personal enemy of Mussolini’s, who he challenged to a duel in 1915. He emigrated to Switzerland and later made his way to Paris. In Paris, he was actively involved in the Italian Anti-Fascist Concentration. He died suddenly and never returned to Italy.
  • Olga Treves Levi (Venice 2 December 1877 - London 20 September 1945), mother: an educated and established woman born to a middle-class Venetian family. She married Claudio Treves in 1907. Widowed in 1933, she left Italy with her children in 1938 and sought refuge in England. During World War II, she joined many anti-fascist organizations active in London. She never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Piero Treves (Milan 17 November 1911 - Nice 7 July 1992), brother: academic specialised in the history of the classical world. When he was 26, he emigrated to England with his mother and brother, Paolo, in late September of 1938. They settled in Cambridge, where Piero was able to acquire a scholarship to study at St. John’s College. In 1941 he followed his brother to the BBC as a translator and announcer for Radio London in addition to being a political journalist. He returned to Italy in 1955, and by 1962 he had acquired a position as a professor.
  • Alessandro Levi (Venice 19 November 1881 – Berna 6 September 1953), maternal uncle: philosophy of law professor at various Italian universities. In 1925 he signed Croce’s Manifesto of Anti-Fascist Intellectuals. He lost his tenure due to the racial laws and in 1943 sought refuge in Switzerland. He returned to Florence after the end of the war and, in 1948, resumed teaching at the university.
  • Sarina Nathan Levi (Livorno 16 July 1884 – Florence 22 December 1967), aunt: born into a family renowned for their involvement in Italian politics. Her grandmother, who had the same name, was very close to Mazzini. Her uncle was a renowned mayor of Rome from 1907 until 1913. She married Alessandro Levi in 1911 and lived with him until he died in 1953. They went to Switzerland to escape anti-Jewish persecution. She later returned to Italy.
  • Antonello Gerbi (Florence 15 May 1904 – Civenna (Como) 26 July 1976), cousin: from 1932 head of the Ufficio Studi della Banca Commerciale Italiana. In 1938 he lost his job because of the racial laws. After ten years of living in Lima, Peru with his family, he returned to Italy in 1948 and resumed his former position at Comit until 1970.
  • Claudio Gerbi (Florence 1907- New York 1990), cousin: internal medicine doctor. He moved to the United States in 1938, where he remained for the rest of his life and obtained US citizenship. In 1942 he settled in New York, where he taught internal medicine at Columbia University until 1979. He also had his private practice. He never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Giuliano Gerbi (Florence 26 December 1905 – Genoa 25 January 1976), cousin: after graduating from Bocconi di Milano, he became a sports journalist. He lost his job due to the racial laws. He found refuge in Paris, in Colombia, and finally in the United States. He became one of the most prominent voices for the Italian broadcast of the Voice of America in the US. He returned to Milan in the seventies, entering the world of finance while continuing his journalistic endeavours.
  • Uberto Limentani (Milan 15 December 1913 – Siusi 17 August 1989), cousin: he graduated with a degree in law from the Università di Milano. Following the implementation of the racial laws, he emigrated to Great Britain. He survived the shipwreck of the Arandora Star. During the war, he collaborated with Radio London. He taught Italian Literature at the University of Cambridge after the war until his retirement.

Aid organisations

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


References declared to the Society for the Protection of Science and Learning:

  • Eric Reginald Vincent (1894 - 1978), Chair of Italian, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.
  • William Edward Collinson (1889 - 1969), reader at the University of Liverpool, director of technical staff at the International Auxiliary Language Association.
  • Curt Sigmar Gutkind (1896 - 1940), head of the Italian department at Bedford College.
Effective references:
  • Eric Reginald Vincent (1894 - 1978), Chair of Italian, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.
  • William Edward Collinson (1889 - 1969), reader at the University of Liverpool, director of technical staff at the International Auxiliary Language Association.
  • Curt Sigmar Gutkind (1896 - 1940), head of the Italian department at Bedford College.

Support network

  • Philip Noel-Baker (1889 – 1982), Labour Party politician: helped Paolo get the permits to return to Italy in 1944, thanks to the help of soon-to-be minister of education Ellen Wilkinson.



Birth and education

  • University of Milan, faculty of Law
  • Student

University student

  • University of Turin, faculty of Law (graduated in 1929); faculty of Political sciences (graduated in 1930)
  • Student

Looking for a job

  • Not employed

In Milan to get his passport

  • Not employed

Short trip to Paris


Stop on the way to the UK


Emigration to the United Kingdom


Academic work

  • International Auxiliary Language Association, University of Liverpool
  • Fixed-term employment


  • Bedford College
  • Fixed-term employment
  • University language teacher

Work with the BBC




Work with the BBC

  • Speaker for "Sul fronte e dietro il fronte italiano"; Worked with various Socialist papers
  • Freelance job
  • Journalist

Return to Italy

  • Freelance job
  • Journalist

Visit to Paris

  • Press attaché of Saragat, the new Italian ambassador to France
  • Fixed-term employment
  • Official,Journalist

Elected in the Constitutive Assembly

  • Elected with the Socialist Party (PSDI) in 1938 and 1953
  • Official
1949New York


  • Institute of International Education
  • Fixed-term employment
  • University language teacher

Trip to Israel



  • University of Florence, faculty of Social and political sciences
  • Stable employment
  • Tenured professor