Join us for the ceremony
Join us for the ceremony of the reading of the names of the Jews deported from Italy and the Italian territories. Consulate General of Italy, January 28th, 2019 from 9 am to 3:30 pm.
January 31, 1946
Report by Massimo Adolfo Vitale on the persecution of the Jews of Italy, Centro Documentazione Ebraica Contemporanea, Digital Library, www.cdec.it
The tragedy of Italian Jews and of the foreign Jews who lived in Italy and were deported to Germany, is expressed in the following numbers: from Italy: 7,500, from Rhodes: 2,500, foreigners: 2,500, returned: 522 Italians, 44 foreigners. No one knows the numbers of the deportees from Libia.*
The hope that others may arrive fades every day, and no news has arrived from Germany, Austria, nor from Poland on the unfortunate victims.
All of those who returned agree the all people of age, or sick, the children, the women with children, have been killed in the gas chambers upon arrival in the German camps.
The number of deportees, remarkably high for such small Jewish population in Italy (42,000 before the racial laws of 1938-1939, 35,000 after those laws), is due to the impossibility of the majority to foresee what would happen. Improvidence was caused for some by lack of means (part of those who were in better financial conditions had left Italy upon the promulgation of the laws […]. For the most part, it was prompted by the belief that the spirit of politicians and of the Italian people would not arrive to painful extremes. They trusted that they would limit themselves to the implementation of those decrees that removed the Jews from public office, limit their activities and their rights, deprived them of the majority of their assets, but would let them “physically” unharmed.
For a certain number of individuals (particularly for foreign Jews), the implementation of those rulings meant to be sent to concentration camps (disseminated in all Italian regions) or to be interned in remote Italian villages.
Of these measures, all terribly unjust, were nothing compared to those that followed in the years from 1940 to 1944 and the first months of 1945.
Internees were forced to a hard and demoralizing discipline. It is important to illustrate this topic with precision to document the extent of the indignity to which the Fascist government arrived in regard to innocent citizens. […]
- As of 2015, the Center for Contemporary Jewish Documentation in Milan identified 9,800 deportees including 1,834 people from the Dodecanese islands and about 750 individuals, mostly refugees, who still remain to be identified. Approximately 12% survived the death camps.
Starting in the last months of World War II, surviving family members of Jews who had been deported to extermination camps prompted the first attempts to locate their loved ones and gather information about their journeys and fates. Soon after, in 1945, the Union of the Italian Jewish Communities created the Comitato Ricerche Deportati Ebrei, CRDE, (Research Committee on Jewish Deportees). Adolfo Massimo Vitale, a colonel of the Italian army dismissed during the Racial Laws who had long lived abroad, led the Committee. It was Vitale who compiled the first list of the Italian deportees.
In 1955 the Center for Contemporary Jewish Documentation opened in Venice with the mission to reconstruct Jewish life and preserve the remnants of its past. Vitale’s list became indispensable in tracing the destiny of the Italian deportees and in writing the history of the Shoah in Italy. Without Vitale’s early work, much of would have been lost forever. Following this first phase, the research was advanced under three of CDEC’s directors, Roberto Bassi, Guido Valabrega and Eloisa Ravenna. During this time CDEC moved its headquarters from Venice to Milan, where records concerning the deportees were permanently transferred.
In 1972, CDEC’s staff decided to cross-reference Vitale’s list in order to follow proper historiographical standards. They initiated new research aimed at collecting every available document in any relevant archive inside and outside of Italy. This phase was entrusted to Giuliana Donati, who was involved with the project until 1974.
Under Donati’s guidance, CDEC acquired a large archive of handwritten documents, containing individual name cards for each victim. The available biographical data for each name was thoroughly checked and new data was added. In 1979, CDEC considered publishing the complete list of all Jews who died in Italy or were deported from Italy in the 1943-1945 period. This project was directed by Liliana Picciotto.
In the meantime, new documents come to light: the census of 51.000 individuals the fascist government recorded as Jewish in 1938, the registry of Italian jails with the names of Jews who were arrested, the records collected by prosecutors during the trials of Nazi war criminals operating in Italy. Vitale’s original list was vastly expanded through these new documents.
In 1986, CDEC received its first computer, a rarity at the time, which transformed research capabilities: the data collected up to that point was merged into an innovative database. In 1991 Liliana Picciotto published Il Libro della Memoria. Gli ebrei deportati dall’Italia (1943 – 1945), (The Book of Remembrance. Jews deported from Italy 1943 – 1945, Mursia, 1991).
Three subsequent editions came out as the research continued to expand. In 2013 the database– which in addition to Jews deported from the Italian peninsula included those from Italian controlled Aegean Islands– was finally made available online. CDEC also made available the database of foreign Jews interned in Italy, a work-in-progress curated by Anna Pizzuti and the late Francesca Cappella at the Scuola Normale di Pisa.