After liberation in 1945, approximately 12,000 Jewish DPs were in Italy, a number that was soon augmented by other Jews hoping to expedite immigration to Palestine and the United States via the country’s open ports. As they awaited emigration, the DPs resided in ten main camps and numerous hachsharot (Zionist training farms) supported by the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) and its successor agency the International Refugee Organization (IRO), with supplementary aid from the Joint Distribution Committee (the Joint).
The authorities contended with the tremendous flux of a transient population and with the increased cost of living in Italy. The IRO stated that it cost 22 to 42 cents more per day to support DPs in Italy than those in Germany or Austria. With the Italian government and the IRO attempting to stem off the influx of new Jews replacing those who had just left Italy, the Joint played a prominent role in supporting DPs throughout the country, even in unofficial installations. The DPs also benefited from vocational training by ORT, which established 80 trade schools in the Italian DP camps.
The Jewish DPs of Italy organized the Central Committee of Liberated Jews in Italy, a discrete political body that was formed in November 1945. This group organized educational, cultural, and vocational activities for the Jewish DP installations. Headquartered in Rome, the Committee had four regional arms in Milan, Florence, Rome, and Bari.
With the instability of the DP population and the rapid movement of refugees out of the country, the DP era was already drawing to a close by the end of 1949. By June 30, 1950, when approximately 20,000 Jews had already left Italy for Israel, there was only one camp in operation and the Jewish DP population barely reached 2,000. On October 1, 1950, the Central Committee of Liberated Jews passed a resolution to cease activity that ended the DP era in Italy.