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Zolli Complained of Starvation; Wanted 900,000 Liras from Jewish Community

February 20, 1945
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency learns from reliable sources that prior to adopting Catholicism, Zolli, in a communication received in this country, complained that he was facing starvation. He indicated that there was a rift between him and the leaders of the Jewish community in Rome, and that he was at odds also with the Zionists, despite the fact that he had, in his speeches and articles, supported Zionism.

Zolli also revealed that the Jewish Community in Rome was willing to give him 200,000 liras, but that he had asked for 900,000 liras “just to buy a hut and a piece of land in order to keep from starving.” According to all indications, Zolli was unable to secure that sum.

Although Zolli mentioned to newspapermen in Rome that his wife had joined the Catholic church without being persuaded by him to do so, he failed to state that at the time he married her, she was only half-Jewish.

The differences between Zolli and the leaders of the Rome Jewish Community began when the Germans took over Italy. At that time he advised that the list of members and contributors of the Jewish community be destroyed and that whatever money was in the treasury of the community be taken out and that the Jews be advised by their leaders to hide. This advice was not heeded. As a result, about 2,000 Jews were arrested by the Germans in Rome and deported from the city. The Germans also levied on the Rome Jews a tribute of 50 kilograms of gold.

Zolli himself went into hiding during the time when the German were in Rome. Upon the liberation of the city by the Allies, the president of the Rome Jewish Community took the position that Zolli should not be reinstated as chief rabbi because he had not been available during the occupation period. The rift between Zolli and the president of the Jewish Community resulted in the Allied Military Government in Rome disbanding the community council and appointing a special commissar to administer the affairs of the community until elections of new officers could be held.

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