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Shira Klein. Italy's Jews from Emancipation to Fascism.

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Areas examined in its eight extensively researched and often vividly written core chapters include emancipation and nationalization, assimilation and integration, exclusion and persecution, exile, nostalgia, and return. These complex and entangled histories are perhaps, ultimately, too many for the book to hold together and sustain, and its structure and general coherence, as well as at times its self-positioning within the field, sag and blur somewhat as a result.

Each of the eight chapters begins with a vignette or anecdote drawn from little-known or unpublished memoirs or interviews, designed to set the stage for a compilation of key aspects of the particular moment or phase in the history addressed in the chapter. Chapters 5 and 6 move in interesting and original new directions by mapping out the experiences of the small—a few hundred in each case—groups and families of Italian Jews who left Italy during the period of persecution, escaping to America chapter 5 or to Palestine chapter 6.

Finally, chapters 7 and 8 take us back to Italy and the beginning of the reconstruction era during the final months of the war and the years following. Chapter 7 looks in particular at how the American Joint Distribution Committee generously supported community reconstruction but also encountered resistance when it tried to reshape and reorder the institutions and communal practices of Italian Jewry, which was itself tentatively flowering into a new phase of confidence, while chapter 8 focuses on how and why Italian Jews, as part of the effort to move on and to rebuild, tended to absolve their fellow Italians from culpability in the persecutions carried out on Italian soil.

But the hypothesis struggles to run as a consistent thread throughout book; indeed, the book is in many ways at its most interesting when it strays from the central line. Michele Sarfatti in a recent journal special issue on Fascist Jews has attempted a statistical tally and interpretation. And indeed, large parts, although not all, of the book do fulfill this promise. It developed from nine French demands imposed upon Switzerland to exempt French Jews visiting the country from special customs duties and taxes.

The Helvetic Republic, established in , passed general resolutions on emancipation.

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Special taxes on Jews were abrogated on July 1, , as "a disgrace to the honor of mankind. Full emancipation was rejected in The constitution of declared the theoretical equality of all Swiss citizens art. In the National Council decided that Jews living in the cantons permanently were to benefit from civic and political rights in their places of residence, and guaranteed their right to move freely within Switzerland. These resolutions, however, met with strong opposition from both the public and the authorities of Aargau.

Only on Aug. The emancipation of Switzerland's Jews concluded as it had begun by pressure from the outside.

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Many countries France, the Netherlands, the U. Threats to cancel commercial treaties were made by France in and , and the Netherlands in , if the rights of their Jewish citizens were not guaranteed. Switzerland's consent to such demands created the anomaly of giving preference to Jews of other countries over Jews of Swiss nationality, which strengthened the case of those who demanded full emancipation.

On Jan. The Christian insurgents were imbued with religious fanaticism, and Russia's hostility toward the Jews was notorious. The question of Jewish emancipation became connected with the fate of Muslim minorities. From the time of establishment of the Balkan countries, these factors brought about the intervention of the great powers to help determine the status of minorities. In the protocol of the Conference of London Nov.

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In the irade a decree on governmental organization , which the sultan gave to Serbia on Dec. It was only in Greece that emancipation gradually materialized —72 without any additional outside pressure. The article on Bulgaria declared that "no person should be deprived of his civic or political rights because of his religious beliefs," and that "all the inhabitants of the Bulgarian Principality, without distinction of religion or race, may be accepted into every public office, government service, and honorary position.

The kingdoms of Bulgaria and Serbia included the articles on emancipation in their constitutions. The situation developed differently in Romania. Article 44, ratified at the Congress of Berlin, dealt with emancipation in Romania, and although not explicitly mentioning the Jews, reflected an understanding of their oppressed position in that country and was directed toward ameliorating it. The article declared "the differences between the religious faiths, or the credo of any person, cannot serve as a pretext for exclusion from the society which enjoys civic and political rights, or from certain professions, categories of crafts or industry, in any place.

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The treatment of the subjects of all the powers, businessmen, or others, when in Romania, shall be on the basis of complete equality. Although formally drafting the seventh article of its constitution according to the demands of the Congress of Berlin the difference in religions and faiths in Romania shall not entail any limitations in the acquisition of civic and political rights , the Romanian authorities included articles on "aliens" which permitted civic rights to be given to only Jews while enabling the government to withhold these rights from more than , Jews who were declared aliens and required to undergo naturalization.

During the interim period between its second and third partition, Poland's struggle for existence compelled it to seek ways of exploiting all available resources, including the increased economic resources which would accrue from "reform of the Jews. The Jewish population in Poland, which was the largest and most specifically Jewish in the Diaspora, could not be considered a mere collectivity of individuals. Influenced by Western political liberalism, Polish theorists formulating the methods for Jewish "reform" believed that the state should be based on the principles of civic equality legislated systematically and implemented with persistence by the state.

Timeline of Jewish History in Italy

It was the conflict between the theoretical liberal and the practical mercantilist orientations which caused the complete failure of the projects to "reform the Jews. Polish attitudes continued to influence the status of the Jews under alien rule, especially during the Polish uprisings, and in autonomous Galicia from to On Oct.

The Kingdom of Poland followed a similar but simpler course: it promised and did even less to emancipate Jews. In its draft constitution presented at the Congress of Vienna, an article promised that "all the civic rights, which are guaranteed in the present laws and regulations, shall also be reserved for Jewish people; special reforms should also be introduced in order to facilitate a larger Jewish participation in the rights of citizens.

The decree which abrogated the equality of the Jews was prolonged by the Sejm parliament. All suggestions advanced by "progressive," wealthy, or enlightened Jews maskilim to be considered "reformed" and separate from Jewish society as a whole and, therefore, worthy of civic rights brought no legal change in the condition of the Jews. An extensive polemical literature emerged, which was overwhelmingly and violently opposed to the Jews. During the Polish uprising of , there were those who favored the equality of the Jews, and there were some Jews, especially among the youth and the masses, who openly manifested their sympathy for the uprising and wished to participate in it.

Italian Jews from Emancipation to the Racial Laws | C. Bettin | Palgrave Macmillan

The leaders of the uprising and the Sejm generally adopted a negative attitude toward the desires of the Jews. But the use of Hebrew or Yiddish in bookkeeping or documents was forbidden on May 24, The Sejm in Galicia ratified on Dec. The recognition of Jewish emancipation in principle was widespread among Polish progressives in the s and s. The belief was based on the assumption that after emancipation the Jews were bound to identify themselves nationally and politically with Poland and assimilate its culture. However, the increase in Jewish population and its social and cultural cohesiveness convinced the Poles that this assumption was illusory.

The Poles argued that although the Jews fulfilled their civic obligations and were loyal to the state, they did not accept assimilation. Opposition to the Jews grew continually in intensity. It was encouraged by the Russian government's policy of "divide and rule," and by the Christian urban classes' enmity toward the Jews as rivals in commerce and in the liberal professions. Only the Polish socialist movements demanded Jewish civic and political equality.

During the German conquest of Poland in World War I , many laws and regulations directed against the Jews were actually abolished, and the organization of the communities received a more democratic character. Between the two World Wars the Jewish fight for equality in independent Poland was influenced by these developments.

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Emancipation of the Jews in Poland had been guaranteed by the Treaty of Versailles arts. After numerous delays, the Polish government was compelled to sign the treaty. Although the Polish constitution of March 17, , included the "additional Treaty of Versailles" and promised "complete equality in civic rights" art. It was only in that several of these laws and restrictions were abrogated.


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In the new Polish constitution of April 23, , the principle of equality was outlined in article 7 according to which "the rights of a citizen would not be restricted because of his origin, religion, sex, or nationality," and that "the right of the citizen to determine the course of public affairs would be considered in respect to the value of his efforts in the service of public welfare.

The law of equality and the law concerning the rights of minorities were successfully emptied of their contents, remaining merely a political and judicial framework for Jewish complaints against the oppressive injustice and perverted laws under which they were compelled to live. The beginnings of the struggle for emancipation in Russia took place after the first partition of Poland , when Russia annexed Polish provinces which contained large Jewish populations Belorussia.

This episode is the beginning of the difficult fight for Jewish emancipation in Russia. Emancipation conflicted with the ideology of the czarist regime, which was built on a system of special privileges in all areas of life, and on rigid social classes legally separated. Under such a regime, every attempt to attain Jewish civic equality was doomed to failure from the start. The promptings of theory and pretensions toward principle often resulted in decrees which were supposedly intended to "reform" the Jews in order to render them suitable "for admission into civil society.

The Commission for the Reform of the Jews, at first inclined toward the liberal opinion that "prohibitions should be reduced and liberties increased" Sept. The commission, however, encouraged Jews to enter agriculture by recommending that the government allocate land and subsidies for their agricultural settlements. Also, Jews were to be permitted to attend general schools of all standards.

In Czar Nicholas I replied to Moses Montefiore's plea for Jewish emancipation by saying that "such a thing is inconceivable, and as long as I live, such a thing shall not take place. During the reign of Alexander II , the situation remained basically unchanged. He ordered the appointment of a special commission to "examine all the existing regulations concerning the Jews in order to adapt them toward the general objective of the integration of this nation within the country, as far as the moral condition of the Jews renders them suitable for this" March 31, The czar, however, shared with some members of the commission their opposition to Minister of the Interior Lanskoy's belief that the civic equality of the Jews was a preliminary condition for their assimilation.

Alexander II held the view that "the emancipation of the Jews of Russia must be graduated in accordance with their intellectual progress and their adaptation to useful occupations. He rejected any "far-reaching" suggestions, such as the abolition of the Pale of Settlement, or even less dramatic but immediate alleviation of the Jewish plight. On May 24, , a report was presented whose majority opinion suggested "changing the system of laws and restrictions for a system of graduated laws of freedom and equality," because "from the governmental point of view, the Jew should benefit from all the rights available.

Convinced that there was no hope for an improvement in their conditions within the framework of the existing political regime, many Jews became active participants in the revolutionary movement. All of these parties approved of the "political struggle" within Russia in general and the struggle for the rights of the Jews in particular. At the beginning of , political activism within Russia was included in the program of the Zionist Organization, largely for the purpose of obtaining civic, political, and national rights for the Jews.

With the rise of the revolutionary movement —05 , and the appointment of Prince Svjatopolk-Mirski as minister of the interior succeeding V. As a protest against the law which deprived Jews of the right to vote in local elections, the league encouraged Jewish members of the municipalities appointed by the government to resign. It also organized a protest movement against the intention of the government to deprive Jews of the right to vote for members of the Duma.


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And to article 76 in the basic laws issued on May 6, , guaranteeing "to every Russian citizen the right to freely choose his place of residence," the Russian government added that "the restrictions to these laws are to be defined in special laws. The first Duma did not deal specifically with the "Jewish question"; yet in answer to the opening speech of the czar it undertook to prepare "a law on the complete equality of rights of all citizens and to abolish all the restrictions and privileges which are conditioned on class, nationality, religion, or sex.

A special commission was appointed to draft the bill, but the first Duma was dissolved before the work was completed. The government introduced a motion in the second Duma for the abolition of all restrictions based on faith or religion, "with the exception of the restrictions concerning the Jews. In the third Duma, which was not a liberal one, the Jewish deputy L.