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Sunday, October 6, 2013

"Here lived...": commemorating Italian Jews who died in the Holocaust

in Pigneto
If you look down once in a while in Rome, you may find a small brass plaque beginning "Qui abitava"or "Here lived," with a name, date and other information in Italian.  Like the one above:

Here lived
born 1903
arrested for his politics
January 4, 1944
Concentration Camp Mautausen
died April 23, 1944

Here lived Silvia Sermoneta, born 1897, arrested Oct. 10, 1943,
deported, Auschwitz, assassinated July 15, 1944, on via Salaria
Almost 100 of these "stolpersteine" (iin German) or "stumbling blocks" ("pietri d'inciampo" in Italian) are on the streets of Rome, and over 40,000 in 10 countries in Europe and Russia.  The project of German artist Gunter Demnig, they commemorate Jews, Roma, and others, like Nuccetelli, a political prisoner, who died in the Holocaust.

More than 1000 Jews were deported from Rome to the camps late in World War II, as Nuccetelli's plaque reveals. Of the 2000 Italian Jews deported, only 102 survived.

The 4-inch (10 cm) cube stolpersteine is laid flush with the sidewalk, usually in front of the last known residence of the victim.  In Rome, this often  means the stolpersteine replaces a sanpietrino, or cobblestone-like block of the sidewalk and is noticeable not so much for its shape, but the shiny brass. They were laid in Rome in 2010 and 2011, in many of the city's municipalities, including many in the city's old Jewish ghetto.

Relatives of one who escaped the round-up, on via Arenula
We stopped this year in front of two on via Arenula along largo di Torre Argentina, while walking on the street with friends visiting Rome for the first time from the United States. As we were trying to explain the stones, a relative of those who died came out of the building.  He had lost his aunts, uncles and all his cousins, he told us.

Scandalously, 3 of the stones were stolen in Rome in 2012.


Here lived Laudadio di Nepi, born 1882, arrested Oct. 16, 1943,
deported, Auschwitz, died during transport; also on via Salaria,
at the same address as Silvia Sermoneta

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