Nazis deported more than 1,000 Jews from Rome to Auschwitz in October 1943.
Rome is holding a series of special events to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the deportation of more than 1,000 of the city’s Jews to the Nazi extermination camp at Auschwitz.
The raid occurred in the Ghetto district at dawn on 16 October 1943, and two days later 1,022 Roman Jews, including 200 children, were sent to Auschwitz on a sealed train from Tiburtina station.
Only 16 would make it back to Rome alive: 15 men and one woman, Settimia Spizzichino.
The last of the 16 survivors, Lello Di Segni, died in Rome in 2018.
In occasione dell'Ottantesimo anniversario del #rastrellamento degli ebrei romani, Roma Capitale ricorda quel tragico giorno: proiezioni, incontri, spettacoli teatrali, percorsi urbani e altri progetti.
Info https://t.co/mNSx9p9xJU#RomaRicorda #16ottobre1943 pic.twitter.com/4LipCgSWi7— Roma (@Roma) October 10, 2023
Under the banner “We remember the past because we care about the future”, the city is staging an extensive programme of events and initiatives to mark the anniversary and to keep the memory of the past alive.
The programme includes film screenings, meetings, theatrical performances, tours and exhibitions as well as a solemn March of Remembrance on 16 October.
The procession, led by Rome mayor Roberto Gualtieri, will start at 17.30 from Piazza del Campidoglio and end in Largo 16 October 1943, in the Ghetto district.
That evening Italy's president Sergio Mattarella will lay a wreath outside the Synagogue, with speeches by Gualtieri, Chief Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni, the president of Rome's Jewish community Victor Fadlun and Sant'Egidio Community founder Andrea Riccardi.
Presentato al pubblico il progetto “16 ottobre 1943. Storia del bambino e del tram”, che ripercorre la vicenda del piccolo Emanuele Di Porto, scampato la mattina del 16 ottobre al rastrellamento degli ebrei romani rifugiandosi su un tram, assistito e protetto dai tranvieri romani pic.twitter.com/O5r52z5zb9— Miguel Gotor (@GotorMiguel) October 10, 2023
One of Rome's special commemorative projects this year is The Story of the Boy and the Tram, a short animated film being shown on the number 23 bus route until the end of this month.
The film tells the powerful story of Emanuele Di Porto, a 12-year-old boy who woke up at dawn on 16 October 1943 to see Nazi troops forcing his mother into the back of a truck.
Emanuele ran down the stairs of his home on Via della Reginella, racing to nearby Piazza Mattei where he was captured by soldiers and loaded onto the same truck.
In broken German, his mother shouted: "He is not my son, he is not Jewish!", and shoved him away.
Alone and confused, Emanuele wandered to Piazza di Monte Savello and gets on the first tram he finds.
He confides what just happened to the ticket collector who, after informing the driver, invites him to stay next to him on board.
Emanuele spends more than two days on the tram, protected by a succession of tram drivers who make sure he has food and a blanket at night.
On the third day a neighbour gets on board and helps to reunite Emanuele with his father and brothers who also escaped deportation.
Soon they returned to live in their family home in Via della Reginella.
Emanuele never saw his mother again.
She is remembered with a brass cobblestone memorial outside her home on Via della Reginella where Emanuele - now aged 92 - still lives today.
For full details of the programme of events being held see the Roma Capitale website. Photo credit: NICOLA MESSANA PHOTOS / Shutterstock.com.
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