1938 is a disgrace for Italy.
The Fascist government started in September to enforce a series of provisions, “The Laws for the defence of the race”, which excluded foreign and Italian Jews from school, academia, politics, finance, the professional world, and all sectors of public and private life. Italian citizens of Jewish religion or descendants were no longer allowed to attend schools or marry non-Jew, to serve in the Army, to own or administrate firms, to own or administrate land and real estate over a certain value, to hire non-Jewish employees, to be employed in the public administration, political parties, banks, insurance companies, newspapers, publishing houses, artistic, research, and educational institutions.
All concessions of Italian citizenship adjudicated to Jewish foreigners after January 1, 1919, were revoked and all Jews who settled in Italy, Lybia, and the Aegean colonies after this date were ordered to leave these territories within March 12, 1939, save for
(i) foreign Jews over 65 years old, or
(ii) who married an Italian prior to 1 October 1938.
According to available data, approximately 8,200 Jews were forced to leave Italy between 1938 and 1940.
Also, ENRICO FERMI, the physicist who produced the first nuclear chain reaction, fled directly in the United States — without returning to Italy — on December 10, 1938, after receiving the Nobel Prize in Stockholm. His wife, Laura Capon, was in fact Jewish.
is still being used by some countries for contrasting political opponents under the pretext of national security. The most recent examples are “citizenship stripping” against dissidents in the Gulf States, particularly since the Arab Spring.
At the end of WWII, Italy enacted a law to annul all Racial Laws approved by the Fascist Government whereby all Jews affected by Racial Laws were reinstated with their civil and political rights, as well as revoked the cancellation of their citizenship.
However, many of those were left stateless after leaving Italy, and therefore, after expatriating to another country they acquired a new nationality.
Italy did not recognize dual nationality until 1992. Accordingly, any Jews who obtained a second nationality automatically lost Italian citizenship.
1912 Citizenship Law, in fact, provided for that Italian citizenship is automatically lost when
(i) someone voluntarily acquired a foreign citizenship or moves residency abrod;
(ii) someone unwillingly acquired a foreign citizenship (for example by marriage) and specifically declared to renounce to Italian citizenship.
The case law has however confirmed that the loss of citizenship is not automatically linked to the mere acquisition of foreign citizenship, but must be followed by a voluntary manifestation of the applicant for
(a) the spontaneous acquisition of foreign citizenship, or
(ii) an explicit renunciation of Italian citizenship.
After receiving many queries, the Ministry of Internal Affairs has confirmed that the acquisition of foreign citizenship by Italian Jews who left as a consequence of the 1938 Racial Laws is not to be considered a “voluntary and spontaneous” choice.
Accordingly, it does not cause the automatic loss of Italian citizenship —provided for in 1912 Law — save for cases when the individual has manifested the will to renounce to citizenship.
The Ministry also expressly pointed out that since citizenship was reinstated “ex tunc”, eg since September 1938
any Jews who lost citizenship as a consequence of 1938 Racial Laws, has passed on citizenship to descendants.
Italian citizenship law is based upon the principle of jure sanguinis (blood right), so any child born of Italian parents is also an Italian citizen. However, under the 1912 Italian Citizenship law, only men were able to transfer their Italian lineage to children, while women could hold but not pass citizenship to their descendants. Accordingly, anyone born before January 1, 1948 and who has only a female ancestor cannot automatically obtain Italian citizenship.
The principles of gender equality were laid down only on January 1, 1948 when the Italian Constitution entered into force. From this date onward, also women can pass on citizenship to their children.
However, the gender equality principle set forth by the Constitution is not retroactive, therefore children born to an Italian mother before 1948 are not automatically Italian.
Fortunately, the Supreme Court intervened and established that it is unconstitutional to discriminate between women and men also for aspects relative to citizenship transmission.
All descendants born anytime from an Italian parent, irrespective of gender, are Italian citizens by birthright. The Court’s decision is however not binding for the Italian Consulates (for this, it would be necessary a new law) and if you fall in the “1948 cases” and you file an application for citizenship, Consulates will reject your application.
The only option left is to file a lawsuit before the Civil Court of Rome against the Italian Ministry of Interior. If your eligibility is confirmed and supported by all necessary documents, the chances of winning the suit are almost 100%. In most cases, in fact, the Ministry does not challenge the claim and the Court, after reviewing all certificates, will issue a favourable decision and grant citizenship.
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Attorney at law.
One of the leading corporate immigration lawyers in Italy. Admitted to the Milan Bar Association (1988) and to the Taipei Bar Association (2016), a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and an accredited partner of Invest in Tuscany.
Mazzeschi S.r.l. | Operazione/Progetto finanziato nel quadro del POR FESR Toscana 2014-2020
Il progetto ITACA (ITaly Attract ChinA) è un investimento nei paesi/mercati a lingua cinese, in particolare Taiwan con l’obiettivo di accrescere le quote di mercato dell'azienda. Tramite ITACA la Mazzeschi Srl ha aperto un ufficio a Taiwan con assunzione di personale di lingua cinese, creato un sito internet in lingua cinese e partecipato a fiere e varie attività di promozione a Taiwan.
Mazzeschi S.r.l. | Project co-financed under Tuscany POR FESR 2014-2020
The ITACA project (ITaly Attract ChinA) is a fund to invest in Chinese-speaking countries/markets, in particular Taiwan with the aim of increasing the company's market shares. With the help of ITACA project, Mazzeschi Srl has opened an office in Taiwan and has hired a Chinese-speaking staff, created a Chinese website and participated in fairs and various promotional activities in Taiwan.