Among the numerous innovations and measures brought by the publication of the new Budget law on the Official Journal on December 30, which directly affect us as citizens, our family and work life, there’s one particularly interesting decision for our life as members of the Jewish community.
After long decades, the State have revised some serious aberrations of law n. 96 of 10.03.1955 (so called “Terracini”) stating “Provisions in favour of politically or racially persecuted people and of their survivor relatives” – so called Merits – with regard to racial persecution and in particular persecution against people of the Jewish faith.
Clause 373 (letter a precisely) states, first of all, that the time limit is pushed beyond September 8, 1943, thus making clear that the persecution refers to the whole period of the Nazi-fascist occupation ending with the Day of Liberation, namely April 25, 1945. Until this date, persecutions by both Nazi occupiers and fascists were still ongoing. The persecution Italy must be held accountable for isn’t just the fascist one and does not end with the invasion subsequent to the armistice.
The second fundamental element is that of the burden of proof. Up to yesterday, any applicant should present evidence of the persecutory act demonstrating the experience and suffering of acts of violence and tortures with original documents or testimonies. Other than the objective difficulty of supplying such evidence and the extremely variable evaluation of what constitutes a persecutory act, there was a mortifying subjectivity in the call for admissibility. After the shame and the exclusion from any sphere of life due to racist laws, after the physical persecution and deportation, Jews still had to demonstrate the application of such persecution towards them happened “by the book”. All of this after the formal abolition of anti-Jews laws, after the Constitution of 1947.
With the new regulation, acts of violence and torture suffered in Italy and abroad are credible unless otherwise shown. This remark surpasses the demand that the applicant present evidence, thus acknowledging (implicitly) that laws and circular letters created and promulgated in Italy were rigorously applied against the Jewish population and that it is normatively incoherent, if not morally aberrant, to ask for evidence. There still is a lot to do and to make clear as for the concept of violence and other subjective circumstances, excluded from the merit, that these amendments haven’t covered.
We must consider the change of today a fundamental one, for which a lot of work was done. The recognition for such a turning point, after more than 80 years, goes to Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, who accepted our proposal of creating a new commission to study the subject in depth, together with the MEF (Ministry of Economy and Finances) and the Ministry of Justice; to the staff of the Prime Minister’s office engaged and following the whole process to reach the definitive approval of these amendments; to the president emeritus of the Supreme Court, Giovanni Canzio, who directed the work of the designated commission, conducting the enquiry and technical legal analysis. Among other institutions, significant contribution was given by UCEI, Aned (National Association of Italian political deportees from Nazi concentration camps) and Anppia (National Association of Politically Persecuted Anti-Fascist Italians), who worked alongside the experts from the Mef and the Ministry of Justice. This is not the last step to be taken and many aspects still need interpretative and normative clarifications, for which we hope this effective collaboration between UCEI, the Government and the other ministers involved will go on.
With another act of the Government, Decree n.183 of 31.12.2020, at article 13 clause 9, an extension of the terms was introduced, along with an allocation of € 6.5 million for the work on the old Jewish cemetery of Mantua within the framework of the bigger renovation project Mantova-Hub, so that it is carried out according to the religious rules, in agreement with UCEI and the Italian Rabbinical Assembly. For this effort, the Prime Minister’s office received a letter of consideration and appreciation from Israel Chief Rabbi David Lau some months ago.
Noemi Di Segni, President of UCEI – Union of Italian Jewish Communities
Translated by Rachele Ferin and revised by Sara Facelli, students at the Advanced School for Interpreters and Translators of Trieste University, interns at the newspaper office of the Union of the Italian Jewish Communities.