ROME (Jan. 5)
American and British diplomats today pressed intensive activities regarding the problem of the Jews in Italy. United States Ambassador William Phillips, following his conversations Tuesday night with Premier Benito Mussolini, kept in close contact with British Ambassador Lord Perth, who was preparing documentary material on the Jewish position in Italy for the use of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain when he arrives here for discussions with Premier Mussolini.
Mr. Phillips has assigned A.S. Rogers, a member of the American Embassy staff, to study in detail all problems relating to foreign and native Jews in Italy. Among these questions were believed to be: (1) The effects of the decree ordering all foreign Jews to leave Italy by March 12. American nationals have so far not been exempted from the terms of this order despite the United States Government’s protest. (2) The possibilities of permitting emigrating Jews to withdraw their capital from Italy. (3) How the United States immigration quota, which is unfilled, can best be utilized to enable Italian Jews to migrate to America.
While 15,000 foreign Jews must, under the expulsion order, leave Italy no later than March 12, Jewish leaders estimate that at least 8,000 of them will be unable to emigrate by that date. In the first place, the passports of many have expired and have not been renewed by the consulates of their respective countries, thus rendering them stateless persons who cannot gain entrance into other countries. Secondly, Germany and Poland are not admitting their Jewish nationals from Italy at all.
Even Jews who are ready to leave Italy immediately are prevented from doing so by exchange restrictions and by the lack of a proper interpretation of decrees. Thus, foreign Jews holding valid passports, securing foreign visas and having the financial means to leave Italy prior to the deadline, nevertheless cannot leave because the law provides that they must first obtain so-called “Nulla Ostra ” certificates from the Rome Institute di Cambi Estero attesting that they have not dealt in foreign exchange and have paid all taxes.
Thousands of applications for such certificates, without which it is impossible to leave Italy, have so far received no replies, not for anti-Semitic reasons, but simply because the Institute is unable to find a clear interpretation of the details of the decree. The American Embassy is now studying the “Nulla Ostra ostra” problem with a view to bringing to the Government’s attention the fact that if many Jews do not leave by March 12 it will not be their fault, but the fault of the delay in issuance of these certificates.
The problem of effecting the transfer of Jewish capital also interests the Embassy because the accounts of all Jews are blocked and none is permitted to draw more than 5,000 lires monthly nor to export even this amount. The problem of utilizing the unfilled United States immigration quota, which is 5,000 to 6,000 annually, will be discussed by the Embassy with the American Consul General, whose office is at Naples. The difficulty arises from the fact that Italian Jews, unlike others, usually do not have relatives in the United States who can send affidavits, since the Jews have lived in Italy for generations, never thinking to leave their fatherland.