Rosa Hanan (1920-2022)

Rosa Hanan, 101, among the very few survivors from the annihilation of the Jewish community of Rhodes in the extermination camps, has departed. She was one of the last surviving Italian Holocaust witnesses. Daughter of Moses Hanan and Maria Leon, she was born on 8 September 1920 and was arrested, along with the other members of that community, in July 1944. A-24360 is the serial number that was tattooed on her arm at her arrival in Auschwitz-Birkenau on August 16.
“A finger indicated who was going to die immediately and who still had some hope of living. Sometimes without a criterion, they chose who should go to the right, who to the left, and many young strong, and skilled at work ended up in the gas chamber immediately”, she recounted.
Rosa Hanan survived Auschwitz and other dramatic experiences and rebuilt her life together with another Jew from Rhodes, Giuseppe Mallel, whom she met in Milan and married in 1947 on her native island. “A marriage among the ruins”, will write the Ladin-language newspaper La Boz de Turkiye chronicling the event. The couple later moved to Rome. The bond with Sami Modiano, also a native of the Island of roses, Holocaust survivor and testimony, was very strong.
This is Rosa Hanan’s message to young people: “When they are in the company of someone who is racist or denies the Shoah, they should try to keep him away”. She was an “extraordinary woman”, said the historian Marcello Pezzetti. “I had the chance to spend more than one Shabbat at her house, and it was an unforgettable, moving experience. She knew all the rituals and all the Ladin songs by heart”.