Paper Lives: The Little Known Story of Foreign Jews Interned in Italy
Where: Italian Cultural Institute
686 Park Ave.
212-879-4242 Price: Free
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Anna Pizzuti, curator of the database and historical portal on foreign Jews in Italy during World War II, presents her work.
Film screening, E42 by Cynthia Madansky, produced during her fellowship at the American Academy in Rome.
In 1938 the Racial Laws stripped of their citizenship Jews who had acquired Italian citizenship after 1919 and ordered all “foreign” and “stateless” Jews to leave the country by March 12, 1939. Approximately 9,000 Jews managed to leave with the assistance of Delasem and the Joint Distribution Committee. Another 4,000 had no means and place to go and remained in Italy in a precarious situation. When Italy entered the war in 1940, Mussolini ordered the immediate arrest of all foreign Jews who had remained in the country.
The wave of arrests was brutal and lead to a substantial expansion of Italy’s already significant civilian internment system: with concentration camps and internment locations for Jews.
During the course of the war, some 6,000 Jews— coming from war territories through military deportation or as refugees who managed to pass the tightly controlled Italian border— were interned.
By the end of the war roughly 10,000 Jews were interned in Italian concentration camps and confinement locations. Of the approximately 7,000 who found themselves in the Italian Social Republic, 2,400 were deported to death camps. The others emigrated for the most part to the US and some to Palestine.
What remains of their lives are thousands of letters, petitions, and request buried in the archives of the police and the censorship agency. With a patient, compassionate and highly critical eye, Anna Pizzuti tried to conjure, from these records of oppression fragments of lives, personalities, beliefs and hopes of people who were trapped in a limbo of abuse, which, upon learning about the horrors of the extermination, those who survived, called refuge.Buy tickets/get more info now