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Jewish Leaders in Rome Discussing Various Problems with Italian Government

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Following issuance of an order by the Badoglio Government in Italy abolishing the anti-Jewish laws and releasing all interned Italian Jews, Vittorio Valobra, president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, today began negotiating in Rome with high government officials for the release of interned Polish, German and stateless Jews.

The exact number of alien Jews who are interned in camps or confined in small townships cannot be established for the time being. It is know that about 4,000 foreign Jews were stranded in Italy when it entered the war. Since then many Jews from Axis-occupied Yugoslavia, Greece and Albania fled to Italy and were interned in the special “Jewish camps.” With the exception of some isolated cases, their treatment was considered humane by Jewish leaders in Italy who extended as much assistance as possible to the refugees.

RESTORATION OF “ARYANIZED” PROPERTY TO JEWISH OWNERS UNDER CONSIDERATION

With the anti-Jewish laws abolished, the approximately 40,000 Italian Jews who still remain in the country now face the problem of re-establishing themselves in the enterprises from which they were ousted under the anti-Jewish regulations, especially under the Mussolini decree of February 9, 1939, which “regulated” the economic activities of the Jews as well as their ownership rights.

Under this decree, Italian Jews were not permitted to own land with a combined taxable value of more than 5,000 lire, which is approximately $250, or urban buildings assessed at more than 20,000 lire. Jewish-owned land and urban property exceeding the stated limits was to be transferred to the then newly created Institute for the Administration and Liquidation of Immovable Property. The Institute issued bonds, negotiable only among Jews, in payment for the Jewish real estate over which it assumed control. The same law also provided that Jewish-owned enterprises with more than 100 employees were to be administered by a specially appointed commissar for a transitional period of one year, and then transferred to “Aryans.”

The question of how to restore the “Aryanized” property to the Jewish owners and how to return “liquidated” Jewish real estate to the holders of the bonds issued by the Mussolini-established Institute is reported to be one of the subjects under discussion between Jewish leaders and the Ministry of Finance in Rome.

30,000 JEWS IN ITALY HOPE FOR ECONOMIC REHABILITATION

It is estimated that about three-quarters of the 40,000 Jews in Italy lost their means of livelihood as a result of the anti-Jewish laws. Practically, the only important occupation in which any considerable number of Italian Jews continued to be employed was the operation of very small shops, the larger stores having been compelled either to sell out to “Aryans” or to become “Aryanized” by

The economic rehabilitation of these thousands of Jews will probably be accomplished slowly, but it is not expected to encounter any special complications such as may be met in Nazi-held countries. This is due to the fact that the anti-Jewish laws were not very popular with the Italian population who welcome their abolition.

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