Verona, protecting the living memory of Montorio camp

By Miriam P. Carmi

Despite the rain and the Covid-19 virus, a small delegation from the organisations involved in the discovery of the concentration camp gathered there in the past hours in Montorio – a village near Verona – before the site’s commemorative plaque. Used for this purpose in early 1944 – then a place of detention of political prisoners until the end of World War II – it saw the presence of about sixty Jews, who were subsequently transferred to Fossoli and then to Auschwitz.
The precise identification and its identification as a “concentration camp” has been made thanks to some letters found, together with the administrative acts of the time and the testimonies in which the survivors had detailed their experience, the commemorative plaque and some explanatory signs with photos placed in a point particularly important for the citizens use, next to a pedestrian path and the cycle path. Only in 2017 a commemorative plaque and some explanatory signs with photos were placed in a particularly important point for use by citizens, being next to a pedestrian and cycle path.

So representatives of the Jewish community of Verona and Vicenza, of the Sons of the Shoah association and of the local Institute for the History of Resistance and contemporary age, as well as of the Montorio Veronese association, wanted to remember the almost miraculous re-discovery of this former military building, which was intended to be sold at a public auction as a state property; yet, by a decision of 23 March 2020, the Archaeological Superintendence for the provinces of Verona, Rovigo and Vicenza has initiated the procedure to declare the place as of “cultural interest”, effectively “freezing” the sales procedures.
If the international Holocaust Remembrance Day should not last for just one day but for every day of the year– because we Jews do not need a dedicated day, we remember every day – in Verona the synergy between the Jewish community, civil society and local associations has achieved this goal, leading to the safeguarding of a place of living memory.
As stated by Senator Liliana Segre at the Shoah Memorial in Milan, “indifference is already violence”. Yesterday there was a statement of participation and involvement. A special thanks goes to Liliana, an underwriter of the parliamentary question which then led to the fulfilment of this small miracle (and the story continues…)

Translated by Oyebuchi Lucia Leonard and revised by Silvia Bozzo, students at Trieste University and the Advanced school for interpreters and Translators of Trieste University, intern at the newspaper office of the union of the Italian Jewish Communities.