Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia
Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia
Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia
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Rome remembers Nazi raid on Jewish Ghetto 79 years ago

Rome commemorates deportation of Jews in 1943.

Rome's Jewish community commemorates today the 79th anniversary of the deportation of more than 1,000 of the city’s Jews to the Nazi extermination camp at Auschwitz.

The raid occurred at dawn on 16 October 1943, when 1,024 Roman Jews - including 200 children - were rounded up in the city’s Ghetto district and taken across the river Tiber to the Collegio Militare on Via della Lungara.

Two days later they were sent to Auschwitz on a sealed train from Tiburtina station.

Only 16 were to make it back to Rome alive: 15 men and one woman, Settimia Spizzichino, who died in the Garbatella neighbourhood in 2000.

The white steel bridge connecting the Ostiense and Garbatella districts was named in Spizzichino's honour when it opened in 2012.

This is the fourth year that the anniversary occurs without any of the 16 survivors, the last of whom, Lello Di Segni, died in 2018.

Last year's anniversary of the deportation took place amid tensions between Italy's Jewish community and the far-right Fratelli d'Italia (FdI) over scandals linked to the political party.

The first controversy came in September 2021 after an investigative report by Fanpage into senior FdI figures and their associates in Milan included footage of explicit racist and fascist jokes as well as anti-Semitic comments and references to Hitler.

FdI leader Giorgia Meloni, now poised to become Italy's next prime minister following her triumph in the recent general election, insisted that there was no space for racism or anti-Semitism in her party.

Days later the FdI-backed candidate in Rome's mayoral race, Enrico Michetti, became embroiled in a scandal over an article in which he argued that the Holocaust is commemorated more than other massacres in history, such as the Foibe, because the Jews "control the banks."

Michetti offered a "sincere apology" for his words which were "dangerous and hide a disturbing prejudice”, according to the president of Rome's Jewish community, Ruth Dureghello.

In an effort to calm the situation, Meloni said she would lay a wreath at the Synagogue the day before a mayoral run-off in which Michetti faced centre-left candidate and incumbent Rome mayor Roberto Gualtieri.

However this was deemed "inappropriate" by Rome's Jewish community, and Dureghello requested Meloni to postpone her visit until after the vote.

This year the city will mark the 79th anniversary of the rastrellamento with the first edition of the 'Pedalata della Memoria', a cycle interspersed with readings by relatives of those deported in 1943.

The event on Sunday begins at 15.00, departing from Ponte della Scienza Vittorio Gassman before stopping at the Settimia Spizzichino bridge and concluding at the Synagogue.

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