Italian citizenship to Jews expelled from Italy further to 1938 racial laws

Aug 16, 2021

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.

Italian citizenship granted to Jews after 1919 was revoked

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.

🆂🅴🅴 🅼🆈 🅰🆁🆃🅸🅲🅻🅴 Arbitrary stripping of nationality | by Marco Mazzeschi | Medium

…. but citizenship revocation was annulled in 1944

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.

What happened to Jews who left Italy and acquired a new 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.

The acquisition of a new citizenship does not prevent descendants to apply for 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.

What if your ancestor was a woman?

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.

Why January 1, 1948?

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.

Is it still possible to obtain citizenship?

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.

What can you do if you think you could be eligible?

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.

References and interesting readings:

Disclaimer: The information provided on this article (i) does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; (ii) are for general informational purposes only and may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information (iii) this website may contain links to other third-party websites. Such links are only for the convenience of the reader; (iv) readers should contact their attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter.

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