A symbolic gesture. Emmanuel-Philibert of Savoy, descendant of the King of Italy Victor Emmanuel III who collaborated with the fascist regime of Benito Mussolini, asked forgiveness from the Italian Jewish community for the racial laws which led to the deportation of nearly 8,000 Italian Jews to from 1943.
“I condemn the racial laws of 1938, of which I still feel today all the weight on my shoulders and with me all the royal house of Savoy”, writes the 48-year-old prince, dissociating himself from the signature affixed by his great-grandfather to “an unacceptable document”. And in memory of the Italian victims of the Holocaust, he asks “officially forgiveness” on behalf of his family, according to this letter posted on his Facebook account and commented in an interview with an Italian television channel.
The prince also recalls, however, that his family made a decisive contribution to Italian unity and that in 1848 it granted full equal rights to Jewish Italians, while several of its members were deported to Nazi concentration camps. Victor Emmanuel, who reigned from 1900 until his abdication on May 9, 1946, died in exile in Egypt on December 28, 1947.
He abdicated in May 1946 to cede the throne to his son Humbert II, who had to abandon it a month later and leave for Switzerland when the Italians, called to vote by referendum, chose the Republic, thus punishing the family for his collaboration. For half a century, the 1946 Constitution banned from Italy the former royal couples and the male heirs of the Savoy family, which had ruled since the country’s unification in 1861.
Parliament finally amended this provision in 2002, after Victor-Emmanuel of Savoy, 83, and his son Emmanuel-Philibert, had sworn loyalty to the Republic. The two men had claimed in 2007 in a letter to the President of the Republic 260 million euros in moral compensation for the exile suffered as well as the restitution of family property, confiscated by the State. But they had given up in the face of the outcry raised in Italy by their request.