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Legge Italiania sulla Difesa della Razza (1938-1939)   Cerca

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Use for discussions of the Italian Racial Defense Laws. (en-US)


Between July 1938 and July 1939, Italy lurched towards intolerance and racism. On July 14 and 15, 1938, the Manifesto Degli Scienziati Razzisti (Manifesto of the Racist Scientists) was published in "Il Giornale d'Italia." The document brazenly stated that Jews were not considered part of the Italian "race." The Italian government codified the views presented in the Manifesto Degli Scienziati Razzisti shortly thereafter. In September 1938 the Italian government introduced a series of Racial Defense Laws (RDL). The government mandated the formation of the Direzione Generale per la Demografia e la Razza (General Directorate for Demography and Race) under the auspices of the Ministry of the Interior and vested it with the responsibility for the application of the Racial Defense Laws. The General Directorate was also required to conduct a census of the Jewish population in Italy. As a matter of substantive law, the RDL of September 1938-XVI, n. 1390, excluded students and teachers of Jewish descent from full participation in academic life. Initially, primary schools with more than ten Jewish students were required to designate separate teaching facilities to accommodate their Jewish pupils. The General Directorate stated that Jews could not attend secondary public schools. Jewish students enrolled at universities were granted permission to finish their academic studies. However, universities were not given clearance to accept new students of Jewish descent. Educators and scientists of Jewish heritage were removed from positions at academic and scientific institutions. The government did grant the Jewish community permission to continue to operate their own school system. The Italian government also stripped Jews of residency rights pursuant to the RDL of September 7, 1938-XVI, n.1381. As a result, Jews without Italian citizenship prior to January 1, 1919, were required to leave Italy, Libya, and Dodecanese Islands in six months' time. Jews over the age of 65 (as of October 1, 1938) and those married to Italian citizens were permitted to remain. On October 7, 1938, the Supreme Council of the Fascist Party issued a "Declaration on Race" and determined the principles on which further detailed anti-Jewish legislation was to be based. The Italian government codified the majority of Racial Defense Laws on November 17, 1938. Explicit prohibitions were pronounced to prevent Jews from contracting marriages with members of the "Aryan Race." The RDL of November 17,1938-XVI, n. 1728, further defined a member of the Jewish race as a person (irregardless of profession of a different faith) with two biological Jewish parents; a person with one parent of Jewish hereditary descent and one parent a foreign national; a person with one parent of Jewish heritage and professing the Jewish religion, but with both parents Italian citizens. A child was not categorized as Jewish if he or she was formally baptized within a specified period of time and had one non-Jewish Italian parent deemed "Pure Aryan." In addition, the legislation required all Jews to formally declare their Jewish identity and indicate their status on all personal records and legal documents. Jews were excluded from enlisting or serving any positions within the ranks of the Italian armed forces. In the realm of business affairs, Jews could not seek employment in banks, insurance companies, or any level of government or civic administration. Legislation also restricted Jews from owning or managing businesses involved with the military industry. Jewish businesses could not employ over one hundred workers. Moreover, businesses or land owned by Jews could not exceed a certain value. Jews were forbidden to contract the personal services of non-Jewish Italian nationals, such as domestic employees. The RDL also clearly stipulated that Jews could not belong to the Fascist party. The Italian government passed additional racial laws in 1939. The RDL of June 29, 1939-XVII, n. 1054, excluded Jews from gainful employment in liberal occupations. The RDL of February 9, 1939-XVII, n. 126, inaugurated additional restrictions on property ownership and business involvement with industrial or commercial enterprises. The local town and city governments implemented further discriminatory regulations in varying degrees. In some places Jewish businesses were denied operating licenses. Jews were forbidden to own radio sets, place advertisements or death notices in newspapers, publish books or newspapers, hold public conferences, list their name and numbers in telephone directories, vacation at certain holiday resorts, enter public libraries, or to be partners in business firms with "Aryan" Italians. Although the racial laws took their toll on the population, starting on July 13, 1939, Jews were permitted to apply to a special commission within the Ministry of the Interior to be reclassified as exempt from provisions of the Race Defense Laws. The special commission reviewed cases of "exceptional merit." Those eligible for consideration included decorated military personnel and combat veterans who had served in the Italian armed forces during World War I, the colonial wars in Libya and Ethiopia, and the Spanish Civil War. Families of Jews who had served or been wounded in these Italian military campaigns were also granted exemption from the RDL. Jews who had been legionnaires during Gabriele D'Annunzio's occupation of Fiume in 1919 or Fascisti before the March on Rome in October 28, 1922, were granted exemption. Jews who were members of the Fascist party between 1919 and 1922, or during the second half of 1924, were granted exemptions. The commission reinstated exempt Jews' right to own real estate and employ non-Jewish domestics. Jews granted the exemptions, however, were still subject to certain other restrictions. (en-US)


Michaelis, Meir. "The Current Debate Over Fascist Racial Policy. In Fascist Antisemitism and the Italian Jews." Edited by Robert S. Wistrich and Sergio DellaPergola. Jerusalem: Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1995. pp. 49-96

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