The Reports of the Commissione (Commission with the task of reconstructing the actions undertaken by public and private bodies in Italy to acquire the property of Jewish citizens) which sat between 1998 and 2001, are available here. An account of its work and findings is set out below the list of documents:
(da pag.5 a pag.10)
La normativa antiebraica del 1938-1943 sui beni e sul lavoro (english_version)
(da pag.59 a pag.88)
La normativa antiebraica del 1943-1945 sulla spoliazione dei beni (english_version)
(da pag.89 a pag.114)
Asportazione di beni artistici, culturali e religiosi (english_version)
(da pag.143 a pag.162)
Le spoliazioni nella zona d'operazione Prealpi: Bolzano, Trento e Belluno (english_version)
(da pag.163 a pag.200)
Risvolti patrimoniale della fuga verso la Svizzera (english_version)
(da pag.241 a pag.252)
Ente di gestione e liquidazione immobiliare (Egeli)(english_version)
(da pag.253 a pag.260)
L'abrogazione delle leggi razziali: l'Egeli e le restituzioni (english_version)
(da pag.261 a pag.300)
Ambiti di ricerca settoriali e locali
(da pag.321 a pag.338)
(da pag.339 a pag.344)
L'indagine nell'Archivio storico della Banca d'Italia (english_version)
(da pag.345 a pag.372)
Relazioni sulle banche
Relazioni su situazioni locali
Attività commerciali e industriali a Roma 1938-1945 (english_version)
(da pag.493 a pag.522)
The account that follows, "The work and the findings of the ‘Commissione Anselmi’ on Italian Jewish Assets 1998-2001", is based on the article by Michele Sarfatti, a member of the Commissione designated by the Unione delle Comunità Ebraiche Italiane, and published in 2002. It is available in its entirety here.
"At the beginning of 1997 Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, then Italian Minister of the Treasury, appointed an Enquiry Commission into five packages containing objects seized from Jews by the Nazi occupation authorities in
After the Commission had completed its enquiry, a law was passed in the summer of 1997 empowering the State to relinquish to the Unione delle Comunità Ebraiche Italiane all property still in its keeping as a result of the spoliation of Jews whose name or fate remains unknown1. In compliance with this law, the State handed over the five packages to the Unione delle Comunità, which in turn gave them to the Community in
The need for the 1997 law arose from the fact that the old law concerning the property of Jews killed in the Shoah, passed in 1947, was of no help in solving this issue of
The 1997 law deals only with property whose “Jewish” provenance is known. Consequently, it does not concern property that was confiscated or robbed from Jews, but is now no longer identified as “Jewish property”.
At the end of 1997, therefore, Tullia Zevi, President of the Unione delle Comunità, asked for a new Commission to be appointed, that would carry out a full enquiry into what had happened to the property of Jews in Italy during the Fascist and Nazi persecution and ensure that items still in the State’s keeping – if any - were returned. Zevi submitted her proposal to Ciampi, who was minister at the time, and who in the spring of 1998 forwarded it to the Prime Minister Romano Prodi, recommending that it be acted upon. Prodi approved the request and accordingly began work on a decree to this end. Due to his government’s resignation in October 1998, however, he was unable to bring the matter to a conclusion. The new Prime Minister Massimo D’Alema took it up again and on the 1 December 1998 signed the decree establishing the Commissione con il compito di ricostruire le vicende che hanno caratterizzato in Italia le attività di acquisizione dei beni dei cittadini ebrei da parte di organismi pubblici e privati (“Commission with the task of enquiring into the actions undertaken by public and private bodies in Italy with the aim to acquire the property of Jewish citizens and the results thereof”). This meant that the Commission was entrusted with a historical enquiry, not with the restitution of or the compensation for that property.
The Commission was made up of thirteen members. Its president was Tina Anselmi, former partisan, former Senator for the Christian-Democratic Party, former president of the 1981 “Commissione parlamentare di inchiesta sulla loggia massonica P2” (Parliamentary enquiry commission on the Masonic lodge P2), and former member of the 1997 “Commissione governativa di inchiesta per i fatti di
The Commissione Anselmi was officially installed on the 17 December 1998 and was supposed to submit its final report within six months (16 June 1999). This deadline was first extended to the 16 June 2000, then to the 31March 2001, and finally to the 30 April 2001. Shortly before this latter date, the Commission submitted its Rapporto Generale (General Report) to the new Prime Minister Giuliano Amato
In the course of the press conference held by Anselmi and Amato on 2 May 2001, the latter declared that he did not wish to “consider res nullius, and therefore open to acquisition by the State, property that does not belong to the State”; he did not however indicate how the process of restitution and compensation was to take place. Just as Amato refrained from giving any kind of concrete indication on how to proceed, the new Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who won the elections held on the 13 May 2001, has refrained from taking any kind of decision. Twenty months have elapsed to date (30 December 2002), without the Government or Parliament in any way following up on the enquiry or on the recommendations of the Commissione Anselmi.
To complete the picture, it should be pointed out that during that same time a local government brought to a positive conclusion one of the episodes the Commission had enquired into: on 5 October 2001 the Giunta della Provincia di Trento (the government of the province of Trento) decided to return a precious collection of 69 17th-century German porcelain pieces, which the State had confiscated in 1939 from the German Jew Julius Kaumheimer and handed over to a museum in Trento. Since Kaumheimer’s fate remains unknown, the porcelain pieces have been returned to the Jewish Community of Merano, in accordance with the already mentioned 1997 law.
How did the Commissione Anselmi proceed in its work, and what conclusions did it reach?
The Commission requested the State Archives of each province to submit a copy of any records they might have on the property of Jews, and practically each archive sent different batches of documents that usually are not easily available to scholars, that is to say the very documents that contain detailed information on individual persons and assets. I thus discovered, after years and years of archival research, that these records are of vital importance if one wants to reconstruct the full history of anti-Jewish persecution.
The Commissione Anselmi worked for approximately thirty months. The general outline of historical events emerged quite plainly. It can be summarized as follows.
1. During the months that preceded the enactment of the anti-Jewish laws of September 1938, many Jews tried to forestall their effects. They sold, and more often than not sold at a huge loss, houses, businesses (for instance
2. From September 1938 to the summer of 1943
From 1938 to 1945, then, government action against Jewish real property and shareholding was fairly bland. This may have been due to the fact that Fascism wanted to get rid of Jews but not of their capital, which on the contrary had to remain in
encountered some difficulty in infringing on property rights. On the other hand, Mussolini’s main objective since the very beginning of the war was to expel Jews from the country, and to further this aim he hit them particularly hard where schooling and employment were concerned.
Dismissal from employment and closing down of shops led to a rapid impoverishment of Italian Jews. The Ministry of the Interior, however, decided that it was not the State’s responsibility to provide relief to impoverished Jews: this duty devolved instead on the Jewish Communities themselves.
3. From 8 September 1943 to 25 April 1945
Jews, it protested against their appropriating the property of Jews in the Operation Zones
At the beginning of November 1943 the Repubblica Sociale Italiana announced that it was about to pass a law confiscating all property of Jews. On 30th of that same month the Ministry of the Interior ordered the “immediate sequestration” of Jewish assets (a provisional measure that did not affect their ownership, but allowed the government to manage them). Lastly, on 4 January 1944, came a legislative decree by the Duce, which declared that all property owned in
The confiscation included every kind of property: ready money, shares, government bonds, bank deposits, insurance policies, land, houses, furniture, knick-knacks, silver, jewels, paintings, carpets, crockery, clothes, sheets, cars, bicycles, typewriters, cameras, food, shop furniture, wares, industrial machinery, deposits for the lease of telephones, bonds given in exchange of real property expropriated in 1938-1943, suitcases, and so forth. Initially the confiscation decrees were published in the “Gazzetta Ufficiale” (The Law Gazette) of the Repubblica Sociale Italiana. The public thus learned that an Italian flag had been taken from the rabbi of
Obviously, after the 8th of September Jews no longer could earn their living through work. Now forced to live underground, they used what assets they had left to keep themselves alive: to buy food, medicines, firewood, etc.
In September 1943, in the regions of Central and Northern Italy subjected to the Repubblica Sociale Italiana and to German occupation, there were approximately 43,000 persons who were classified as “of Jewish race”; at least 36,000 of them lived in the area under Fascist administration.
Up to April 1945 Egeli received from the chiefs of provinces 7,847 confiscation decrees, 7,116 of which came from Northern Italy (excluding the two Operation Zones)24. In 7,187 cases out of 7,847 the Commissione Anselmi was able to trace the text of the confiscation decrees, involving 7,920 persons and 230 businesses altogether. Of the 7,116 confiscation decrees received from
No complete list indicating the value of the confiscated assets was ever drawn up, either at the time of the Repubblica Sociale Italiana or after the war. Nor are there – understandably – lists of stolen property, or of assets that were neither stolen nor confiscated. The Commissione Anselmi has therefore been unable to even approximately state the total value of all these assets.
About 5 to 7,000 persons classified as “of Jewish race” were living in the two Zones under Third Reich administration. In either Zone the confiscation was based on an order (Anordnung) issued by the Supreme Commissioner (Oberste Kommissar). The order for the Adriatisches Küstenland was issued on 14 October 1943; the one for the Alpenvorland has not been traced. The property was to be confiscated by the German police and then handed over to the Finance Department, which would manage and sell it.
By the end of February 1945 there had been 1,420 instances of confiscation in the Adriatisches Küstenland, involving a total of 313,533 share certificates and government bonds (assessed at 450,000,000 lire), approximately 400 apartments and 30 business premises, about 3,800 valuables (or sets of valuables). The net proceeds from rents, yields and sales totalled by then approximately 23,000,000 lire. German authorities, moreover, confiscated and transferred to Berlin and to Carinthia the household goods and the cases sent by Jews from Central Europe, that Italian authorities had sequestered in May 1943 and were held in the warehouses of the port in Trieste; the household goods were stored in 667 containers or “liftvans”, each measuring between 5 and 8 cubic metres, and in 1939 were insured for 60,000,000 lire altogether.
The spoliation also affected the libraries and historical archives of the Jewish Communities. In Alessandria and in Ferrara documents and books were stolen or dispersed by Fascists; in Fiume they perished when the Nazis set fire to the synagogue; in Trieste the books were mostly destroyed or taken away to Austria. The Nazis, moreover, “deported” the entire library of the Collegio Rabbinico Italiano (
The Commissione Anselmi also endeavoured to ascertain what property had been returned or what compensation had been paid for it after the war. This part of the enquiry was quite intricate and yielded only incomplete results, as no general survey was ever undertaken during the spoliation itself. It has been impossible, for instance, to set up a complete list of assets seized and of assets returned to their rightful owners in the Alpenvorland and the Adriatisches Küstenland. For both Zones the Commissione Anselmi was able to unearth only a fraction of the German records and of those in English (in the first years after the war, in the Operationszone Adriatisches Küstenland, the restitution of assets was carried out by the Jewish Property Control Office appointed by the Allied Military Government).
As far as the restitution of property expropriated or confiscated by Fascist authorities is concerned, the main findings by the Commissione Anselmi can be summed up as follows.
Customs (1938-1939). When the anti-Jewish laws were passed, some Jews tried to illegally export money and valuables. The border police or the customs service seized several of these assets. It is most likely that the property thus seized was never returned.
Real Property (1939-1943). Houses and land expropriated by Egeli during the first phase of persecution have all been returned, or in any case compensation was paid for them.
Real Property (1943-1945). All houses and land confiscated by Egeli during the Repubblica Sociale Italiana seem to have been returned. At the moment of restitution Egeli asked the owners to pay “management expenses”, as if Jews had voluntarily decided to have their property managed by Egeli; some owners paid the sum that was requested of them, other refused to do so.
Personal Property (1943-1945). The items confiscated by Egeli in the homes of Jews (in some cases – the exact number could not be ascertained -, houses that had been confiscated in 1943-1945 were returned without furnishings or with entirely empty furniture), or seized from their suitcases and their pockets when they were arrested, were returned only in part. Sometimes the Jewish owner was given the proceeds from the sale – made at an extremely low valuation - of these items. We were able to ascertain that Egeli, instead of returning it, had transferred to the State the last lot of personal assets that remained in its possession: jewels, savings books, share certificates, etc., whose value in 1943-1944 totalled at least 2,000,000 lire.
Insurance Policies (1943-1945)/a. It would seem that Egeli never appropriated the surrender value on the life insurance policies held by Jews in
Insurance Policies (1943-1945)/b. The records submitted to the Commissione Anselmi by Assicurazioni Generali has enabled us to ascertain that several dozen life insurance policies held by Jews residing in Italy and murdered at Auschwitz or by Jews who had left Italy once and for all have never been paid; the issue is now the
subject of talks between Assicurazioni Generali and the Unione delle Comunità Ebraiche Italiane. The two other great insurance companies (INA and RAS) told Commissione Anselmi that the documentation held in their archives do not allow any comprehensive research on which policies were not paid out.
Banks (1943-1945). Almost all bank deposits confiscated from Jews were left by Egeli in the custody of the banks themselves. Immediately after Liberation the banks made them again available to the rightful holders; thus Jews who emerged from illegality were able to use them at once. There were obviously instances in which nobody claimed deposits that were in the name of Jews who had died during deportation or had emigrated. The Commissione Anselmi was able to ascertain that in three banks there were unclaimed deposits totalling 20,000, 220,000 e 520,000 lire respectively. In the remaining banks there were, in 1950 or thereabouts, unclaimed deposits containing money and government bonds totalling approximately 4,000,000 lire, and 6,550 share certificates of unknown value. My opinion is that a few of these lire deposits were later claimed, and that the most part was appropriated by the banks themselves.
Joint-Stock Companies (1943-1945). The question of share certificates is extremely complex and requires a very meticulous research, in order to ascertain whether they were personal shares or bearer shares, and in how many cases the victim of the confiscation simply relinquished the paper document kept in the bank and asked the company to issue a new certificate. This problem emerged fully only by the time the Commissione Anselmi was already approaching the end of its work; it has therefore been impossible to enquire into this.
Post Office (1943-1945). The savings accounts that were confiscated were almost always left by Egeli with the post offices themselves, which after Liberation made them again available to their Jewish owners. The records kept by the Post Office do not allow a nationwide enquiry into unclaimed savings accounts. The Commissione Anselmi was however able to ascertain that in the
Museums. The Commissione Anselmi did not carry out a detailed research in state and private museum in order to verify the presence of works of art taken from Jews. The “Commissione interministeriale per il recupero delle opere d’arte” (Interministerial Commission for the recovery of art works) assured us that no such instance is documented in its records; the Pinacoteca di Brera assured us that after the war it had not acquired “works of art belonging to Jews”. The Commissione Anselmi was able to ascertain instead that in some instances works of art taken from Jews had not been included in the national missing lists and that the Pinacoteca di Brera itself had bought from a third party a painting that - according to a 1999 decision by a French court - had been seized from its Jewish owner in
This, very briefly, is what happened. As one can see, virtually everything was taken, and a great deal has undoubtedly been returned. In my opinion, the State and the various state and private bodies should now complete the historical enquiry and see to it that the last assets are returned, or that compensation is paid for them.
The means to this end are a Commission for individual compensation (which should deal with cases where a specific asset that has not been returned and its rightful owner or heir can be identified), that should also be entrusted with the task of completing the enquiry, and an Italian Memorial Foundation (which should be assigned compensation, for its own use, in cases where either the asset or the former owner can no longer be identified with certainty)."
[Translated by Loredana M. Melissari]