Current exhibition: "Ca' Foscari and Antisemitism"
The archival documents featured in this temporary exhibition are dramatic examples of the widespread anti-Semitic hatred that followed the adoption of racial laws in 1938. These materials include articles, teaching disqualification documents, lectures and census records of Jewish university staff that bear witness to the persecution of Jews. These documents remind us, as they must, that prevention, education and awareness raising in universities and schools are fundamental efforts, especially today, in the light of the new forms of anti-Semitism that have been dangerously spreading on the web. As the former UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion recalled in a 2019 report, which will also be discussed at Ca' Foscari, "anti-Semitism remains a serious and persistent global problem that has continued to expand".
The exhibition is part of the 2023 Holocaust Remembrance Day initiatives, which is dedicated to various representations of the Shoah: witness documents, films, performances, books, multimedia projects and the annual international conference “Memoria, diritto e diritti” (Memory, Law and Rights), which will address the topic of anti-Semitic hate speech and the ways to counter it.
Sara De Vido
1-Ca' Foscari Historical Archive, Rectorate series, envelope 31/B, file 2.
The documents displayed in this showcase come from the file “Provisions for the Defence of the Race” in the Rectorate series and concern the implementation of the 1938 racial laws. In addition, two volumes of the University Historical Archive are presented.
Telegram sent by the Italian Ministry of National Education to the Director of the Higher Institute of Economics and Commerce in Venice, urging an employee named Fernanda Palmarini to fill out a new racial card, as the one already submitted was not deemed sufficiently clear.
2 -Ca' Foscari Historical Archive, Rectorate series, envelope 31/B, file 2
Document drafted by the Italian Ministry of National Education in response to questions concerning the Royal Legislative Decree No. 1728 of 1938 “Provisions for the Defence of the Italian Race”. In the reply, which quotes a note from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, race is indicated as the prevailing criterion for the census of Jews, over religion.
3 - Ca' Foscari Historical Archive, Rectorate series, envelope 31/B, file 2.
Telegram signed by the Italian Minister of National Education, Giuseppe Bottai, warning of the imminent exclusion of all Jewish staff from all schools and educational establishments.
4 - Ca' Foscari Historical Archive, Rectorate series, envelope 31/B, file 2.
Minute of Rector Agostino Lanzillo's reply declaring there were no Jewish employees.
5 - Ca' Foscari Historical Archive, Rectorate series, envelope 31/B, file 2
Circular letter signed by the Rector declaring the start of proceedings for the census of Jewish staff.
6 –Ca' Foscari Historical Archive, Rectorate series, envelope 31/B, file 2
Summary prospectus providing feedback on the previous document (5), stating that only four employees can be defined as “staff of the Jewish race”.
7 - Belli, Adriano, Hitlers Deutschland Notes collected from the lectures of Prof. Adriano Belli, Academic Year 1933-34, Venice, G.U.F., 1934 (FS, BG Cont 75 110)
Publication of the Higher Royal Institute of Economic and Commercial Science edited by the G.U.F. (Fascist University Group) of Venice, entitled Hitlers Deutschland and subtitled Notes collected from the lectures of Prof. Adriano Belli. It consists of a collection of texts from various works such as Hitler's Mein Kampf, Forsthoff's Der totale Staat and Völkischer Beobachter, which were translated by his pupils. At the end of the book is a glossary of some significant terms compiled by the students.
8 -Giacomo Acerbo, The Foundations of the Fascist Doctrine of Race, Rome, 1940 (BAUM, MIL ST 316)
The book is the first volume in the series The Problems of Race, edited by the Italian Ministry of Popular Culture – Department for Racial Studies and Propaganda and contains the speech delivered by Giacomo Acerbo at the conference held at Palazzo Vecchio, Florence at the invitation of the Florentine section of the National Institute of Fascist Culture.
The text comes from the Milano Fund, which was donated to Ca' Foscari University of Venice in 2013 by the family of Attilio Milano, a historian of Judaism who died in 1969.
9 - Ca' Foscari Historical Archive, Student Series, Student Files, Olga Manente.
Olga Manente was the first African-Italian student at the Royal Higher Institute of Economics and Commerce. Born in Saganeiti, Eritrea, Olga enrolled in the Foreign Languages Course in 1937 to obtain a degree in French and German. No evidence of persecution has been found of this student, except for a document, contained in the file Provisions for the Defence of Race, in which she appears in a list of students who were “probably Jewish” (9). The student graduated on 13 November 1945. An authenticated photograph (10) and her enrolment booklet (11) are also exhibited.
10 -Ca' Foscari Historical Archive, Student Series, Student Files, Olga Manente
11 - Ca' Foscari Historical Archive, Student Series, Student Files, Olga Manente.
12 - Ca' Foscari Historical Archive, Student Series, Student Files, Gigina Finadri (Levi)
Gigina Levi was a Foreign Languages and Literature student who enrolled in 1939. Although at the time of her enrolment Gigina declared that she “professed the Catholic religion and did not belong to the Jewish race”, the following year she and her entire family changed her surname from Levi to Finadri, the surname of her paternal grandmother. The document on display is an extract from the register of birth certificates, in which it is noted that thanks to Italian Law No. 1055 of 13 July 1939 – Provisions on testamentary matters as well as on the regulation of surnames with respect to members of the Jewish race, the change of surname was granted (13). The photo authentication is also displayed (12).
13 - Ca' Foscari Historical Archive, Student Series, Student Files, Gigina Finadri (Levi
14 - Ca' Foscari Historical Archive, Lecturer Staff Series, Gustavo Sarfatti
Gustavo Sarfatti was a lecturer in Maritime Law. The displayed document reads that he was disqualified as a lecturer due to the racial laws of 1938-1939.
15 - Ca' Foscari Historical Archive, Student Series, Student Files, Paola Finzi
Paola Finzi was born in Trieste in 1915 into a Jewish family. In 1936, she enrolled in the Modern Languages course, wishing to take Croatian and Spanish language classes. Although she was regularly enrolled until 1939, no other documents can be found in her student file until the year 1951. The document presented (16) together with the authenticated photo (15) was produced by the Israeli community of Trieste and states that Paola Finzi was racially persecuted.
16 -Ca' Foscari Historical Archive, Student Series, Student Files, Paola Finzi
17 -Adriano Belli, Young versus Old in German Novels and Dramas of the Wilhelmine Era, Bergamo, 1933, Historical Fund, (BLUMENT Misc Blum-Séc 86)
18 - Ca' Foscari Historical Archive, Lecturer Staff Series, Olga Blumenthal
Olga Blumenthal was a German lecturer at the Royal Institute of Economics and Commerce. On 30 October 1944, she was arrested and deported to the Nazi concentration camp in Ravensbruck, where she died on 24 February 1945. With the exhibits, an attempt was made to recall the respect Blumenthal enjoyed within the University, also on the part of the lecturer of German Language and Literature, Adriano Belli, who managed to keep her on as his collaborator even when she would need to interrupt her activity as a lecturer because she had "exceeded the age of sixty" and "exceeded ten years of service as an assistant" without becoming a lecturer, as prescribed by law. On display is a handwritten letter signed by Olga Blumenthal (18) in which she asks Adriano Belli to take her on as a voluntary assistant to the chair of German Language and Literature, a book written by Adriano Belli containing the inscription "To Prof. Olga Secrétant, an unworthy gift by AB, 28.11 XII " (17) and a portrait of her taken from a group photograph extracted from Bollettino Associazione Antichi Studenti.
19 - Olga Blumenthal, photograph taken from Bollettino Antichi Studenti No. 72, June-November 1920
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