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Antisemitism, Holocaust, Shoah: Tucci and the History of Ernst Bernhard

Berndt images
On the Holocaust Memorial Day, dedicated to the Shoah, I would like to clarify the position of Tucci on racism and anti-Semitism. The issue has sparked much controversy in the Roman Jewish community, in Italian media and at parliamentary level, when on May 25, 2010, a widening in Rome was named Largo Giuseppe Tucci in his honor.

The Manifesto of Racist Scientists or Manifesto of Race was published in Il Giornale d’Italia (Newspaper of Italy) on July 15, 1938. Later on were given the names of ten scientists who had “prepared or supported” the document. One of them, professor Nicola Pende, director of the Institute of Special Medical Pathology at the University of Rome, a few months later denied having given his support.

On the Internet and was picked up by some journalists a list of public figures – all men – that would be deployed publicly in favor of the “Manifesto of Race”. Among them politicians, distinguished intellectuals, cartoonists, physiscians, journalists, and Giuseppe Tucci.

The Declaration of Race was approved by the Grand Council of Fascism on October 6, 1938 and a few days after it was published in the Paper of the National Fascist Party (PNF). King Vittorio Emanuele III, under Mussolini proposal, along with the ministers of Foreign Affairs, of Justice, of Finance, and of Corporations, on November 17, 1938 approved a which established the Measures for the Defense of the Italian Race.

Racial discrimination occurred in both public and private sectors and in the education of children born to Jewish relatives: evil should be extinghuished from the start. Finally, the Royal Law of November, 15 1938- XVII integrated and coordinated in a single text the rules for the defense of race in Italian schools. They were hard rules, which, among other things, separated Jewish children in special sections of the school “in places where the number was not less than ten children”, and forbade Jewish adults to obtain the license to teach at university and to become members “of academies, institutes and associations of science, literature and arts. In 1939 Il Duce also established that Jews could not be teachers, notary public, and journalist, and were established special sets of rules for the other professions.

Actually I did not find any document written or signed by Tucci in support of the Manifesto of Racist Scientists or the Manifesto of Race. Certainly he can not be defined racist, given his work, and the deep love he expressed for the Asia cultures.

Moreover, the Jungian psychologist and German jew Ernst Bernhard, who believed in reincarnation, had knowledge of Buddhism and Confucianism and worked “contemplating the statue of Buddha on his work table”, commenting on a dream he had on 11 October 1935 said that was thanks to Giuseppe Tucci that he was not deported to Nazi concentration camps. On the contrary, Ernst Bernhard was allowed to return to Rome and live in hiding at home.

I have spoken several times of Tucci’s great opportunism. Yet, he took the risk by his political friends to speak in defense of Ernst Bernhard. A Jew, who owes his life to him.

The Author

Enrica Garzilli Enrica Garzilli is a scholar of classical and modern Asia. Harvard Alumna, she holds a degree in Sanskrit and Indology from the Oriental School in Rome, where she studied with Tucci’s most famous disciples. She has taught in leading Universities, and regularly publishes in national and international newspapers, magazines, and TV.

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