Two huge dark walls, made of steel, stand facing one another, dominating the square. Between the two walls there is a narrow passage that people can cross. By doing that, one cannot help but feel oppressed and that’s what the architects of the new Bologna Shoah Memorial want: they designed a space to remember how Europe was oppressed by Nazism and fascism, to remind people of the tragedy of the Holocaust.
The structure was inaugurated on January 27 in a square very close to the central station of the city. “This project was made possible by the combined commitment of all of the institutions involved. The goal was to show that the memory of the past is still alive,” said Daniele De Paz, president of the Jewish Community of Bologna, during the inauguration ceremony.
The Community promoted the project that was supported by the Union of Italian Jewish Communities (UCEI), the Monte di Bologna and Ravenna Foundation, the Municipality of Bologna, the Order of Architects and Ferrovie dello Stato (the State Railways).
“This installation as well as the Memorial in Milan are a warning for all of us to fight against indifference,” said UCEI vice-president Giulio Disegni, noting that “memory must be perceived as a lesson, especially for young generations, to be vigilant and active against prejudice.”
“The Torah admonishes us to remember what the evil Amalek did to the Jewish people: it says ‘Zakhor, Al Tishkach’, remember, don’t forget,” highlighted rav Alberto Sermoneta, chief rabbi of Bologna, who explained that the imperative to remember is a Jewish commitment and it must be a commitment for the whole of civil society.
“The Shoah Memorial is to be a sign of this commitment,” promised the mayor of the city, Virginio Merola.
At the inauguration of the installation, which was built in one year, were also present two representatives of the Catholic world and the Italian Islamic community: the vicar general Giovanni Silvagni and the Coreis imam Shaykh ‘Abd al-Wahid Pallavicini.
The Memorial was designed by the firm Set Architects.