Emmanuel of Savoy, center, son of Italy's last king, his son Emanuele Filiberto, right, and his wife Marina Doria of Savoy, are pictured in Milan, Italy, on Feb. 9, 2002. PHOTO: AP
A demand by Italy's former royal family for compensation from the Italian state for their 56 years of forced exile was met with deep scorn on Wednesday by anti-Fascist and Jewish groups.
"We are astonished by the absurdity of this demand," said Massimo Rendina, head of Italy's largest anti-fascist association ANPI.
Vittorio Emmanuel III, the grandfather of the current head of the House of Savoy, co-signed laws that allowed nearly 8,000 Italian Jews to be deported by the occupying German forces starting in 1943.
Vittorio Emanuele of Savoy, 70, grandson of the last king of Italy from 1900 to 1946, and his son Emanuele Filiberto, 35, lodged the demand for 260 million euros (US$385 million) plus interest on Tuesday.
They are also seeking the return of assets that were confiscated by the Italian state after their forced exile in 1946.
The property the Savoys are seeking
Ricardo Pacifisti, spokesman of Rome's Jewish community, was equally indignant.
The Union of Jewish Communities in Italy, the main Jewish group in the country, called the demands offensive "to the historical memory of Italy" in a statement.
Pino Sgobio of the Italian Communist Party called the request "a joke," adding that the royal family should reimburse Italy "for the moral and material damage inflicted on the Italian people."
The government reacted swiftly to the demand, rejecting it on Tuesday and saying the Italian state owed nothing to the former royal family but was now thinking of suing them for their responsibility over the racial laws.