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Delegation for the Assistance of Jewish Emigrants (Delegazione per l'Assistenza degli Emigranti Ebrei) or DELASEM, was an Italian and Jewish resistance organization that worked in Italy
Italy
between 1939 and 1947. It is estimated that during World War II, DELASEM
DELASEM
was able to distribute more than $1,200,000 in aid, of which nearly $900,000 came from outside Italy.[1]

Contents

1 Organization 2 The Underground during the Italian Social Republic
Italian Social Republic
(1943-45)

2.1 The Rome
Rome
DELASEM 2.2 The DELASEM
DELASEM
of Genoa

2.2.1 Links between Genoa and central and northern Italy

3 The organization at the local level

3.1 The Rescue of the Children of Villa Emma

4 The Post-war period (1945-47) 5 References

Organization[edit] DELASEM
DELASEM
was organized on December 1, 1939 as an association authorized by the Fascist
Fascist
government, at the initiative of Dante Almansi and by the Jewish Genoese lawyer Lelio Vittorio Valobra, respectively Association Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Union of Jewish Communities in Italy. Its official purpose was to help fellow refugees and foreigners that were interned in Italy
Italy
and to facilitate emigration for them.[1]

Lelio Vittorio Valobra

The foreign Jewish refugees in Italy
Italy
were deprived of the most basic means of subsistence. They were deprived of their right of residence on Italian soil from the racial laws of 1938 and from on June 15, 1940 were detained in concentration camps, principally Ferramonti of Tarsia (Cosenza).[2] The headquarters of DELASEM
DELASEM
was established in Genoa under the direction of Lelio Vittorio Valobra. Funds came mainly through Paris from international Jewish institutions such as the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, but also from the collection of funds in Italy.[1] The organization was legal until September 8, 1943, and received the unofficial support of some sectors of the Catholic Church. After the occupation of Paris, the Swiss
Swiss
were to act as a liaison between the DELASEM
DELASEM
and international charitable organizations.[2] To implement its objectives the DELASEM
DELASEM
used a network of correspondents from among the fellow internees, displaced in camps and in places of internment. By a government circular dated May 18, 1942, the fascist Ministry of Interior recalled that the activities of these correspondents were limited exclusively "for charitable purposes and formalities of emigration."[1] Despite limitations between 1939 and 1943, DELASEM
DELASEM
succeeded to assist more than 9,000 Jewish refugees and to help 5,000 of them to leave Italy
Italy
and reach neutral countries, primarily Spain.[1] Special
Special
attention was paid to children. In 1942, the " DELASEM
DELASEM
dei Piccoli" was founded in Florence with the specific purpose of giving assistance to children internees, offering them books, medical care, toys and clothes. In the camp Ferramonti di Tarsia, they established a "children’s canteen" which helped significantly to improve the lives of infants, children interned there. At Villa Emma Nonantola
Nonantola
the delegate DELASEM
DELASEM
Mario Finzi, in collaboration with Father Arrigo Beccari and the Dr. Giuseppe Moreale organized an orphanage model that welcomed for about a year a group of a hundred children from Germany and the Balkans.[2] The Underground during the Italian Social Republic
Italian Social Republic
(1943-45)[edit] With the Armistice of Cassibile
Armistice of Cassibile
on September 8, 1943 and the beginning of the German occupation, DELASEM
DELASEM
went underground. Defined by the Italian Social Republic
Italian Social Republic
as "foreign enemies" in November of that year by the Manifesto of Verona, over 6,000 Jews (men, women and children) would be deported from Italy
Italy
and killed in the extermination camp at Auschwitz.[1] Lelio Vittorio Valobra, helped by Raffaele Cantoni and Massimo Teglio, made contact with Cardinal Pietro Boetto, who headed the diocese of Genoa, and he instructed his secretary Father Francesco Repetto
Francesco Repetto
that the work could continue and DELASEM
DELASEM
be provided with material assistance and shelter Jews, both Italians and foreigners. The arrests and the forced flight of Valobra and Cantoni to Switzerland led DELASEM
DELASEM
to split in half between Rome
Rome
and Genoa.[2] The Rome
Rome
DELASEM[edit]

Father Maria Benedetto

Regular contacts with Rome, Genoa (and central funding in Switzerland) were interrupted abruptly with the arrest and flight to Switzerland of Raffaele Cantoni. The office Lungo Tevere Sanzio had to be closed but DELASEM
DELASEM
continued to operate in Rome
Rome
until the liberation under the leadership of the Jewish delegates Septimius Sorani, Giuseppe Levi, and the Capuchin Father Maria Benedetto. The Convento dei Cappuccini (Capuchin Convent) became the headquarters of the committee and the flow of funding was restored by using the mediation of the ambassadors of Great Britain
Great Britain
and the United States of America
United States of America
at the Vatican, in addition to Father Maria Benedetto going twice to Genoa, returning to Rome
Rome
with large sums of money.[3] In the nine months of Nazi occupation, aid worth was "approximately 25,000,000 lira", was distributed and "assisted more than 4,000, including 1,500 foreigners and 2,500 Italians." The Rome
Rome
DELASEM
DELASEM
was also a place to find asylum and distribute false documents.[3] The DELASEM
DELASEM
of Genoa[edit] The flow of money between Switzerland (where Valobra and Cantoni operated) and the headquarters in Genoa always remained active due in part to the assistance of the Apostolic Nuncio in Bern, Msgr. Filippo Bernardini.[4] The collaboration between Massimo Teglio (a Jewish leader) and Cardinal Pietro Boetto
Pietro Boetto
of the Genoa Curia functioned as the central deployment of international aid to the Jews in north-central Italy during the entire period German occupation. To maintain the entire organization with Massimo Teglio, was Father Francesco Repetto, secretary of Cardinal Boetto. Wanted by the Gestapo
Gestapo
in July 1944, Father Repetto, was forced to hide in the mountains, and Father Carlo Salvi will continued to work with Massimo Teglio until the Liberation.[4] Links between Genoa and central and northern Italy[edit] To act as couriers between Genoa and the Jews in central and northern Italy
Italy
were Raffaele Cantoni (until his expatriation), Mario Finzi (until his arrest and deportation) and Giorgio Nissim (that continued to operate in Tuscany
Tuscany
throughout the war period) and a group of priests for which Father Repetto dispose a precise program of travel to deploy funds received from Switzerland.[5] Archbishop Giovanni Cicali reached several locations, including Florence and Arezzo. Father Giovanni De Micheli went to Penne, Teramo, Chieti, Ascoli Piceno, Macerata
Macerata
and San Severino Marche. Father Alessandro Piazza (which was then Bishop of Albenga) reached Brescia and then Como. Father Gian Maria Rotondi went to Siena, Grosseto, Lucca
Lucca
and Pescia. Father Carlo Salvi went to Verona, Rovigo, Belluno, Treviso
Treviso
and Vittorio Veneto. Father Traverso Natale went to Turin
Turin
and Assisi. Father Raffaele Storace reached first Asti
Asti
and then Aosta, Susa, Casale, Ivrea, Alba and Pinerolo. Father Giuseppe Viola visited the community of Mondovì, Cuneo
Cuneo
and Fossano.[5] All these journeys and the delivery of funds had precise documentation with receipts of Cardinals, bishops and pastors, and the amounts delivered on behalf of Cardinal Boetto.[5] The organization at the local level[edit] At a local level DELASEM, due to its contacts already established in previous years, could count on a broad and inclusive network of complicity between Jews, member of the Italian resistance, priests, citizens, simple police, officials, and even some members of the German army.

Plaque dated 1970 inside the San Sebastiano "civic temple" in Milan Italy, “in memory of the Unknown Deportee.

Even amid many difficulties, DELASEM
DELASEM
showed great effectiveness in providing assistance for the maintenance, housing, and in many cases the illegal emigration to Switzerland of some 35,000 Italian and foreign Jews who survived persecution in Italy. Genoa, Rome, Turin, Milan, Assisi, Florence, Lucca, Borgo San Dalmazzo
Borgo San Dalmazzo
were some of the centers in which DELASEM
DELASEM
succeeded to operate more effectively.[2] To manage DELASEM
DELASEM
during the period of the underground were mainly Jews:

Raffaele Cantoni and Lelio Vittorio Valobra exiled in Switzerland; Massimo Teglio Teglio and Rabbi Riccardo Pacifici at Genoa; Rabbi Nathan Cassuto and Matilde Cassin in Florence; Raffaele Jona in Piedmont; Mario Finzi in Bologna; Septimius Sorani and Joseph Levi in Rome; The arrests and deportations (of which, among others, were Richard Pacifici, Nathan Cassuto and Mario Finzi) increased the responsibility of non-Jewish members, who contributed significantly in keeping alive the flow of aid.[2]

Among non-Jews who came into contact with the DELASEM
DELASEM
or worked for it are:

Bishops Pietro Boetto
Pietro Boetto
of Genova, Elia Dalla Costa of Florence, Giuseppe Placido Nicolini of Assisi, Maurilio Fossati of Torino, Alfredo Ildefonso Schuster of Milan, and Antonio Torrini at Lucca;

Father Raimondo Viale

Father Francesco Repetto, Father Carlo Salvi in Genoa, Msgr. Vincenzo Barale in Turin, Father Leto Casini, Father Cipriano Ricotti, Father Julius Facibeni, Msgr. James Meneghello and Father Enrico Bartoletti in Florence, Father Arturo Paoli in Lucca, Father Giuseppe Bicchierai in Milan, Fathers Raimondo Viale and Francesco Brondello at Borgo San Dalmazzo, Fathers Arrigo Beccari Nonantola, Aldo Brunacci and Rufino Nicacci at Assisi, Father Federico Vincenti in Perugia, Fathers Maria Benedetto, Armando Alessandrini, Francesco Antonioli in Rome;[3] Laity such as Claudio Lastrina, Angelo De Fiore, Odoardo Focherini, Louis and Trento Brizi, Giuseppe Moreali, and Giorgio La Pira.[5]

The memories of many of them are honored at Yad Vashem
Yad Vashem
as that of the "Righteous among the Nations". The Rescue of the Children of Villa Emma[edit] A spectacular example of the organizational capacity of the DELASEM relates to the saving of the children of Villa Emma at Nonantola. Due to the efforts of Father Arrigo Beccari and Giueseppi Moreali, in less than 36 hours upon arrival of the Germans in September 1943, more than a hundred residents of the DELASEM
DELASEM
orphanage were hidden among the families of the area and subsequently transferred illegally to Switzerland. Only one of them, who was sick and had been entrusted to a sanatorium, was captured and died at Auschwitz. The book Fields of the Duce: the civilian internment in Fascist
Fascist
Italy
Italy
(1930–1943), by Charles Spartacus Capogreco, details this escape, and 2004 television movie The Flight of the Innocents was made by European station RAI.[6] The Post-war period (1945-47)[edit] The nuclei of DELASEM
DELASEM
regrouped quickly after the Liberation. The priority task of DELASEM
DELASEM
became to bring together scattered families, especially children hidden in convents or in private, and the other to organize the emigration (yet illegal) to Palestine, territories then under the British mandate.[1] Emblematic in this respect, was the case of the ship Faith, was blocked at the port of La Spezia
La Spezia
in April 1946 with over one thousand Jews from Eastern Europe bound for Palestine. It took a hunger strike, allegations from Communist newspaper L’Unità
L’Unità
and the personal interest of Christian Democracy Prime Minister Alcide De Gasperi
Alcide De Gasperi
to unblock this situation.[1] References[edit]

^ a b c d e f g h Sandro Antonimi, DELASEM: Storia della più grande organizzazione ebraica di soccorso durante la seconda guerra mondiale (De Ferrari: Genova, 2000) ^ a b c d e f S. Sorani, L'assistenza ai profughi ebrei in Italia (1933-1947). Contributo alla storia della DELASEM
DELASEM
(Carocci: Roma 1983) ^ a b c Renzo De Felice, Storia degi Italian Jews under Fascism. From a report that Father Maria Benedetto wrote after the Liberation, 20 July 1944, and which is published in Mondadori, Milan
Milan
1977, pp.752–54. ^ a b Enzo Collotti (a cura di), Ebrei in Toscana tra occupazione tedesca e RSI, 2 voll. (Carocci: Roma 2007) ^ a b c d Susan Zuccotti, The Vatican and the Holocaust in Italy (Mondadori: Milan
Milan
2001) 0300093101 ^ Ei

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