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

Robert Max Vasilii Kempner (1899-1993)

Friburgo 17 October 1899 - Königstein im Taunus (Germany) 15 August 1993

Lives on the move

Emigrant family members

  • Ruth Lydia Hahn (Geislingen an der Steige, Germany 8 July 1914 – Stockholm 4 May 1982), second wife:  social worker,  writer and freelance journalist, emigrated to Florence in 1935. After the marriage, she became known as Benedicta Maria Kempner. She emigrated with her husband to France in 1938, and then to the United States in 1939. There, she worked on Nazi crimes against churches, priests, and nuns in Europe. She never returned to Europe permanently. 
  • Lucian W. Kempner (Berlin 6 July 1923 – Maryland, USA 16 July 2009), son: student, emigrated to Florence in the 1930s, after his parents' divorce. He was taken back to Germany by his mother, arrested and deported in 1943, he survived and emigrated to New York on 23 May 1946, reuniting with his father in Philadelphia. He never returned to Europe permanently.
  • André Kempner (Nice 31 March 1939 – Fjälkinge, Sweden 21 September 1997), son: his mother, Margot Lipstein (later Lipton) (23 May 1914 – ?), had worked for Robert as his secretary while he was in Nice and joined him in the United States in 1940. André spent the years of the war in Nice and emigrated to the United States on 11 October 1951, where he was adopted by the Kempners. Later, he moved to Sweden.
  • Walter Kempner (Berlin 25 January 1903 – Durham, USA 27 September 1997), brother: graduated in medicine in 1928 at Heidelberg University (Germany), he emigrated in 1934 to Durham, USA, where he became associate professor of cellular physiology at the Duke University (Durham); he distinguished himself as a scholar of diet and metabolism. He never returned to Germany permanently.
  • Marie Luise Hahn (Geislingen, Germany 1876 – ?) mother-in-law: emigrated to the United States on 29 September 1949, as she was 73, making the voyage with her son-in-law and her daughter to go and live with them in Philadelphia.

Aid organisations

  • Emergency Committee in Aid of Displaced Foreign Scholars, New York.
  • National Coordinating Committee for Aid to Refugees and Emigrants Coming from Germany, New York.
  • Oberlaender Trust, Philadelphia.
  • Society for the Protection of Science and Learning, London.


References given:

  • Wilhelm Abegg (1876 - 1951), former Secretary of State, living in Zürich;
  • Cora Berliner (1890 - 1942), economist and teacher until 1933, part of the League of Jewish Women;
  • [?] Hahn, Lieutenant-General of Berlin;
  • Hans Herrmann, former counsellor of the Prussian ministry of justice, emigrated to Como;
  • Carolus Mennicke (1887 - 1958), German pedagogist and sociologist, emigrated to Amersfoort (Netherlands);
  • Don Lazër Shantoja (1891 - 1945), Albanian catholic priest, Esperanto expert, La Motte (Switzerland).
Actual references:
  • Stephen B. Sweeney, director of the Institute of Local and State Government of the University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia);
  • Mazÿck Porcher Ravenel (1862 - 1946), emeritus professor of medicine at the University of Missouri (Columbia);
  • Carl Severing (1875 - 1952), former Home minister of Prussia (1920–26; 1930–32) and of the Weimar republic (1928-1930);
  • Hans Simons (1893 - 1972), Direktor der Hochschule für Politik (Berlin);
  • Eric Klausener (1885 - 1934), Ministerialdirektor, Chef der Polizeiabteilung des Innenministeriums;
  • Bill Drews (1870 - 1938), president of the Supreme Administrative Law Court of Prussia;
  • Editor Ullstein Verlag (Berlin).

Support network

  • Mazÿck Porcher Ravenel (1862 - 1946), emeritus professor of medicine at the University of Missouri: in December 1938 he pointed out Kempner (whose mother, a bacteriologist, he knew) to his colleague Farrand Livingston to recommend him to the ECADGS;
  • Stephen B. Sweeney, director of the Local and State Government of the University of Pennsylvania: asked for support from the ECADGS to co-finance a temporary position for Kempner and provided a financial guarantee of 900 dollars to integrate the 1000 dollars grantee of the Emergency Committee for one year of work.



Birth and education

  • He studied at the university of Berlin, Freiburg, and Bratislava

Early work and career

  • Journalist; lawyer at Erich Frey's firm; assistant to the State's attorney; Deutsche Hochschule für Politik; work at the German Home Office; dismissed in 1934
  • Stable employment
  • Lawyer,Official,Journalist,Untenured professor
1935Columbia-Haus (Berlin)


  • Revocation of the citizenship

Emigration to Italy

  • Landschulheim Florenz
  • Stable employment
  • Teacher

Emigration to France

  • Unemployed
1939New York

Emigration to the United States


Work in the USA

  • University of Pennsylvania, consultant for government agencies
  • Stable employment
  • Consultant,Tenured professor

Investigations on Nazi's crimes

  • Stable employment
  • Official

American prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials

  • Stable employment
  • Official
1949Lansdowne (Pennsylvania)

Return to the United States

  • Travels in the USA and to Germany, lawyer in the trials for the restitution of seized goods to Jewish families
  • Freelance job
  • Lawyer

Consultant at the Eichmann trial

  • Freelance job
  • Lawyer,Consultant
1965Cuneo (Italy)

Voyage to Italy

  • Invited by the «Comitato per l’affare Peiper»
  • Freelance job
  • Lawyer


  • Lawyer in the trials against Nazis who deported Jewish people during the war
  • Freelance job
  • Lawyer
?Frankfurt, Locarno

Return to Germany

  • 1970s: lived between Frankfurt and Locarno
1993Königstein im Taunus (Germany)