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Jews on the run

Immagine di copertina tematica Ebrei in fuga (Credits: Archivio Storico Intesa San Paolo)

The run of the Jews during the Second World War is chronicled by the testimonies in Area 08, Italians on the Move.

During the 1930s, following the consolidation of the fascist regime and the intensification of racial policy, discriminatory policies against Jewish citizens were initiated. The first to be subjected to discrimination and actual expulsion decrees were Jews of foreign origin, who arrived in Italy after the First World War.

The racial policy culminated in 1938 with the promulgation of “Royal Decree-Law No. 1728 of 17 November 1938, Provisions for the Defence of the Italian Race”: thousands of Italian Jewish citizens were denied the most basic civil rights, from the possibility of attending schools to working in public professions. They saw their lives brutally pushed to the margins of the society in which they had always lived and to whose development they had contributed.

The progressive discrimination and the real threat to their physical safety drove thousands of people to leave Italy to seek safety well before the start of the Second World War and the deportations to concentration and extermination camps.

Many decided to leave for European countries that seemed to be safer than Italy, others went to the Americas, some chose to go to Jerusalem and the territories of what was then Palestine, a British protectorate, anticipating a trend that would be confirmed at the end of the conflict with the birth of the State of Israel.

Those who fled before the war managed to do so legally, while with the escalation of the wartime and political dynamics, most Italian Jewish citizens were forced to attempt to escape clandestinely in order to avoid deportation.