Italy’s government will allocate ten million euros for the construction of a Holocaust Museum in Rome. A law decree to institute a “national museum” in the capital was approved last week during the last Council of Ministers to “contribute to keeping alive and present the memory of the Holocaust”.
The choice of Rome as the seat of this institution is “doubly symbolic”, reads a note by the government, as the city is the capital of the country and “the place which is home to one of Europe’s oldest Jewish communities and one of the most numerous in Italy”. “A Holocaust Museum is present in all major European capitals, and it seemed just right to me that it should also be created in our country”, said the Minister of Culture Gennaro Sangiuliano.
The issue had been often recalled in the last few months, also in the Minister’s meetings with the Jewish world. In one of his first public appearances, at the General States of Italian Jewry, last November, he announced his intention to “activate a table aimed at finding the economic resources needed to realize a Holocaust Museum in Rome”. And in February, while inaugurating the new signs at the Shoah Memorial in Milan, he reminded that such a reality already “exists in major Europeans capitals and it is good that Rome has it too”. Quoting Italian philosopher Benedetto Croce, he finally stated that “history is always a contemporary fact, not a tinsel of the past”. Therefore, he said, it is a “toolbox where one can find the tools to interpret contemporary reality and maybe prefigure the future”.
“This is an important effort by the government, and the commitment of Minister Sangiuliano is appreciated. As a contribution, these funds integrate the efforts already going on through the Foundation Museum of the Shoah of Rome, which is already responsibly committed to the path forward to the Museum’s realization, for which important definitions of place should be assumed”, pointed out UCEI President Noemi Di Segni in a communication to press agencies. “The museum – she stressed – must be realized quickly and be integrated into the national network of memorial and sites, starting with the National Museum of Italian Judaism and the Shoah in Ferrara and the Shoah Memorial in Milan”.
“Great satisfaction” was expressed in a note by the President of the Foundation Museum of the Shoah Mario Venezia, who speaks of the “epilogue to a steep path that has seen several realities involved, which united in these years in order to make this ambitious remembrance project outline more stable through the Foundation’s activities and the support of many”.
In this direction, reads the note, “the large following achieved among schools, local authorities, institutions and, last but not least, our volunteers, leads us to provide full collaboration and scientific contribution for the research and study of the Holocaust, which has always been our primary objective”.
According to the architect Luca Zevi, co-author of the project for the museum in Villa Torlonia area, “we are witnessing three positive convergences”. And those are, he tells Pagine Ebraiche, “the action of the Jewish world, which has always had this objective; that of the government, and in particular of its Minister of Culture, who is committed to ensuring that words become deeds; and that of the Municipality, mobilized for a long time”.
The budget allocated by the government, continues Zevi, “adds up to approximately 50 million already assigned by Rome Municipality, which bought the area, obtained a loan financed several years ago, and accompanied the various phases of the planning”. Now, says Zevi, “there is no going back: we are now in the construction phase, with no further institutional steps”.
So the President of the Jewish community of Rome Ruth Dureghello commented on the news: “I want to express my thanks to the government and the Minister of Culture Sangiuliano for this concrete attention to the theme of Memory”. The hope, she said, it that this support “for Rome to finally have a Museum of the Holocaust will represent an impulse to provide definitive answers from the administration regarding its realization, which we wish will be speedy”, she added. According to Dureghello, “definite timeframes and choices that can be made shortly are needed to guarantee the capital of Italy a museum like all the major European capitals”.
Above, the Casina dei Vallati, headquarters of the Museum of the Shoah Foundation.