Italy

1 Recognition of the Genocide

1.1 Recognition, official texts

Italy observes 27th January as Holocaust Memorial Day. It is called the Day of Remembrance. The date was established on 20 July 2000 following the adoption of Law No. 211. The law establishes 27th January as a memorial day to remember the racial laws, the Italian persecution of Jewish citizens and those who suffered deportation, imprisonment and death during the Holocaust. It also serves to commemorate those who opposed the Nazi regime and risked their lives to save and protect others.

There is no official acknowledgment of the Genocide of the Roma in Italy. The “Law 20th July 2000, no. 211, that institutes the Day of Remembrance” for those who have been deported in the concentration camps during the Second World War, doesn’t mention expressly the Roma.

1.2 Data (camps locations, Remembrance places, measures etc.)

According to estimates, 2000 of the 25 000 Italian Roma were killed during the Second World War.

1922-1938 Rejections and expulsions
 
On the 1st February 1926, the Heads of the police sent a communiqué stating that all “Gypsies”, regardless of their origin, should be rejected, even those in possess of valid documents allowing access to Italy. On 8 August 1926, the Ministry of Home Affairs (Ministro dell'Interno) declared that the main objective to be pursued was that of the eradication from the whole national territory of all “gypsy” caravans.

Later, as a result of the order of Arturo Bocchini (Member of the Italian Police) on 17 January 1938, an ethnic cleansing of Istria from all Roma and Sinti began. They were boarded on ferries and confined to several places in Sardinia, between the province of Nuoro and that of Sassari. At least 80 people reached Sardinia; they were scattered in the countryside and supervised by the police.

On the 11th September 1940 Arturo Bocchini issued the final order aimed at fighting the so-called “Gypsy plague” through the eradication, detention and deportation of all Roma and Sinti (including the Italian nationals) and their reclusion in specific places. The regime began to prepare a network of concentration camps in Italy that were uniquely reserved to the “Gypsies”. The first camp was located in a former tobacco factory in Bojano (in the province of Campobasso): between 1940 and 1941, 58 Roma and Sinti were taken here from different parts of the country; These were later joined by a further 100 people, who were registered in the camp lists at the beginning of 1943. Agnone became the main collection point for “Gypsies” deported by the Fascist regime; however, the hundreds of Roma and Sinti that were arrested were distributed among the nearby provinces: new concentration camps for Roma and Sinti therefore arose in Berra (Ferrara), Prignano sulla Secchia (Modena), Torino di Sangro (Chieti), Chieti, Fontecchio negli Abruzzi (Chieti); in 1942, a new concentration camp ordered by the government began its activity in Tossicia (Teramo).

The armistice of 8th September 1943 has allowed the prisoners to escape from the camps. After 1943, the Roma have been arrested in the Repubblica Sociale Italiana, allied with the Nazi, and there are traces of departures toward the Nazi camps, but absolute evidences has not been already tracked down. From 1943 to 1945, Italian Gypsies were deported to concentration camps in the Third Reich.

In Rome, there are two places where the Genocide of the Roma during the Second World War is remembered: a) in Piazza degli Zingari (Square of the Roma people), near the Coliseum, there is since 2001 a plaque that commemorate the Genocide of the Roma; b) in the Shrine of “Divino Amore” there is a monument made by Bruno Morelli, as a reminder of the Genocide of the Roma.

1.3 Specialised institution, commission, research centre etc., dealing with this issue

The virtual Museum of Porajmos is a joint project led by the Archive Study Centre Gypsies of Rome- Foundation ex Campo Fossoli, in cooperation with the association Sucar Drom and the Federazione Rom e Sinti Insieme. It collects data and produces materials and information for the general public.

Contact:
Comitato scientifico
Luca Bravi
l.bravi@unidav.it
 
Associazione Sucar Drom
Telephone: +39 0376 360643
 
Federazione Rom e Sinti Insieme
Davide Casadio (Presidente)

1.4 Official initiatives (campaigns, actions, projects, commemoration days, museums)

Many Italian cities commemorates 8th April as the International Day of the Roma. There is not a national event related to this day; in fact, all the events and public ceremonies related to this day are organised by each city.

In 2006, the Community of Sant’Egidio proposed a motion, which was approved, for the institution of the International Day of the Roma (8 April) in the municipality of Rome; on this day it is also remembered the Genocide of the Roma during the Second World War.

Every year, on 16 October, in Rome, the Community of Sant’Egidio, in co-operation with the Jewish Community and the Roma Community, organizes a march to remember the deportation of the Jews from the Ghetto, which took place on 16 October 1943, during the Nazi occupation and in the months thereafter. In that occasion, it is also remembered the Genocide of the Roma during the Second World War. Similar events are held in many other Italian cities.

In 2013, the National Office against Racial Discrimination (UNAR) used Holocaust Memorial Day to raise awareness about discrimination by supporting the inauguration of an installation at the railway station in Milan to remember those who were sent to Auschwitz.

On 27th January 2015, on Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Italian Senate Human Rights Commission recalls ethnic Roma victims. PD Senator Luigi Manconi, head of the Senate human rights Committee, recalled numerous other victims of Nazi extermination during the Second World War. "On this day of remembrance and commemoration it is right to recall the extermination of ethnic Roma under Nazi-fascism and highlight the new wave of intolerance towards them."

2 Teaching about the Genocide of the Roma

2.1 Inclusion of the topic in the school curriculum

The Italian national curriculum includes teaching about the Holocaust. Following reforms, the Holocaust was introduced as one of the main subjects taught in high schools. The Italian government co-operates with the Union of Italian Jewish Communities (UCEI). It is unknown to which extent the Genocide of the Roma is taught.

2.2 Inclusion of the topic in the school textbooks

In every school level curriculum the Holocaust and the Genocide of the Jews is included, but not specifically the Genocide of the Roma.

2.3 Training of teachers and education professionals

In the University of Florence, Faculty of Sciences of the Education, there is a laboratory - organised by Dr. Luca Bravi - on the history of Roma.

Laura Fontana, CEO of the Education and Memory project, published an article "Rethinking School Trips to Auschwitz. A Case Study of Italian Memorial Trains: Deterioration of Holocaust Pedagogy? in “The Holocaust Ethos in the 21st Century: Dilemmas and Challenges”, Ariel University of Samaria, 2011. The article offers guidelines on how to teach Auschwitz to pupils, especially on field trip. Yet, it merely evokes the Gypsies’ camp in Auschwitz.

The Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research, together with the Council of Europe, organised on 11 and 12 December 2014 in Rome an International Seminar “Introducing Roma history teaching into national school curricula: a policy response towards inclusive education”. The objective of this seminar was to provide an institutional forum to support a policy development process towards incorporating Roma history teaching into national school curricula. This involves, on the one hand, providing and facilitating available Roma history teaching materials and resources to relevant authorities, some of them being produced by the Council of Europe, and, on the other hand, identifying the institutional mechanisms able to facilitate an efficient and resourceful process towards introducing Roma history teaching in national school curricula. More than 50 participants coming from about 20 Council of Europe member States participated in this Seminar, including high state officials, members of parliament, historians, policy-makers on history school curriculum, as well as experts and officials that can facilitate a reform process towards introducing the Roma history teaching in the national school curriculum. Positive examples in introducing Roma history teaching were discussed. As an example, the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research has set up a working group together with the National Office against Racial Discrimination (UNAR) and experts from civil society with the specific aim to draft a Decree that will introduce knowledge of Porrajmos (the genocide of Roma during the Second World War) in Italian schools.

2.4 Particular activities undertaken at the level of education institutions

In Rome and Milan, two centres have been established by Jewish communities to organize meetings and to facilitate connections between schools and Holocaust survivors and their children and grandchildren.

Approximately 80 000 Italians, mostly students, visit Auschwitz every year.

2.5 Remembrance day

There is an ongoing commitment of schools in the Holocaust Remembrance Day. Unfortunately, a remembrance day for the Genocide of the Roma is not observed.

3 Official contacts and resource persons

3.1 Responsible person in the Ministry of Education

3.2 Resource persons - list of experts and historians

Dr. Luca Bravi Università di Firenze
Facoltà di Scienze della Formazione (University of Florence)
Via Parione, 7
50123 Firenze
Italy
 
Gabriele Rigano
Via Cavour 295
00184 Roma
Italy
 
Laura Fontana
Head of the Cultural Department for the Municipality of Rimini since 1990 and Head of the Memory Education Project of the Municipality of Rimini since 2009
 
 
In the Community of Sant’Egidio:
Dr. Paolo Ciani
Community of Sant’Egidio
Piazza S. Egidio 3A
00153 Rome
Italy
Telephone: +39 06585661
4 Initiatives of the civil society

4.1 Relevant projects having a real impact on the people and/or the wide public

Private corporate bodies and associations periodically promote, especially on the Day of Remembrance, the memory of Genocide of the Roma; it is possible to highlight the activities undertaken by the group Osservazione and by the Istituto di Cultura Sinta di Mantova.

Other example:
Community of Sant’Egidio
Piazza S. Egidio 3A
00153 Roma
Italy
Telephone: + 39 06585661
Contact person: Dr. Paolo Ciani
The activities of the Community of Sant’Egidio regarding the Roma: since 1982, there are activities related to education issues, as well as to the mediation with the “Gadjo”.
There are also activities in Genoa, Novara, Florence, Naples, Milan, Barcelona, Madrid, Würzburg, and Antwerp.

Several activities in the Comunità di Sant’Egidio. “Everyday friendship”: Learning how to live together (school of peace), services free of charge once a week (medical care, legal counselling, administrative orientation), visit to the Roma inmates, solidarity between Young and Elder (visit to hospital), common celebrations and festivities, defence of Roma rights in different institutions by volunteers. The curriculum of the Italian language course for immigrants and refugees run by the Community of Sant’Egidio includes specific lessons about the Genocide of the Roma. Almost 1,000 students are involved every year. On the occasion of the Day of Remembrance, the Community of Sant’Egidio organizes cultural activities addressed to students from every school level, focusing on the Genocide of the Jews and the Roma. In June 2007, the Community of Sant’Egidio organized a conference about Anti-Gypsyism in Italy. The proceedings of this conference have been published in a book, Il caso Zingari (Leonardo International, Milano, 2008). In 2008, Il caso Zingari has been presented in several Italian cities (Rome, Milan, Naples, Genoa, Padua) during conferences attended by many people. In October 2007, on the occasion of the interreligious international meeting “For a World Without Violence: Religions and Cultures in Dialogue”, organised by the Community of Sant’Egidio in Naples, Ceija Stokja, Roma survivor from Nazi Concentration camps of Auschwitz, Ravensbrück, and Bergen Belsen gave a speech about the Genocide of the Roma. The Community of Sant’Egidio works for raising awareness of the Genocide of the Roma in the new generations. In April 2008, 200 young people of the Community of Sant’Egidio visited the concentration camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau for a ceremony recalling the victims of the Shoah and the extermination of the Roma.

The project “MEMORS. The first virtual museum of Porrajmos in Italy. Persecution of Roma and Sinti during the Fascist era” is a joint initiative from the Archive Study Centre Gypsies of Rome- Foundation ex Campo Fossoli, in cooperation with the association Sucar Drom and the Federazione Rom e Sinti Insieme. It collects data and produces materials and information for the general public. It has created a virtual Museum of the Porajmos. It is funded by EACEA’s Europe for citizens programme 2012-2013. The “MEMORS” project focuses on the aims of action 4, thus trying to preserve or recover the memory of the mass deportation of Sinti and Roma, as well as their presence in the Italian concentration camps. In order to do so, besides holding commemorative events, it begins by publishing all the existing documents online so that they can be accessed by a larger number of people. This way, it intends to spread the information both in the “new places of memory” and among the Roma and Sinti population, making them an active part of its initiatives. Furthermore, the project allows the creation of a network among the various actors of the civil society that deal with this issue in different ways: private research institutes, associations of victims of persecution, associations that promote memory.

“Roma Identity” is a campaign aimed at raising awareness on Roma culture and identity. It has been led by NGO Ricerca e Cooperazione and carried out by several NGOs and public organisations from Spain, Italy and Romania. It is funded by EU programme. Their website displays a glossary “Roma e Sinti glossary from A to Z” which defines “Porrajmos”. RomaIdentity has published an article on the Genocide of the Roma in which Maura de Bernart is interviewed. She is a professor of sociology at the University of Bologna and coordinator of ECOSMEG.

NGO Forum Campani Rom from Napoli has contributed to the draft resolution presented and voted by the European Parliament on 15th April 2015 urging the EU and its Member States to recognize 2 August as Roma Holocaust Remembrance day.

Project "Roma e Sinti in Italia e nel Mondo:Giving Memory a future": The projet is led under the command of the USC Shoah Foundation. On 21st April 2015 Milena Santerini, professor and Member of Parliament who helped create the resource, presented it at the Council of Europe. Other speakers at the seminar were Santino Spinelli, professor of Romani language and culture at University of Chieti; author Ellie Keen; Ramon Flores, a young Roma activist; and Ulrich Bunjes, special representative of the Secretary General for Roma Issues. The idea of the project is to transfer the methods of teaching the Jewish experience of the Holocaust that have resulted in greater awareness of discrimination and exclusion to the Roma/Sinti, or “Gypsy,” persecution during the Holocaust, which is much less known. The Italian Ministry of Education recently passed a decree to make Giving Memory a Future available to all teachers and create an annual contest for students about the Roma Genocide also using the resource.

There are some laboratories and courses in the universities of Florence, Verona and Trieste related to the Genocide of the Roma.

ECOSMEG – European Cosmopolitanism and Sites of Memory through Generations is an initiative led by the University of Bologna: it is a historical research project based on five sites of remembrance, including places in Italy, in Croatia and in Albania. It aims at highlighting and documenting minor sites of remembrance of Shoah and the Second World War. Yet it is not specifically targeted at Roam victims.

5 Point of view of the Roma community - including survivors' testimonies

The Roma community is organized in the “Comitato Rom e Sinti Insieme”, that promotes the memory of the Genocide of the Roma. There is one project in progress: Dr. Luca Bravi (Università di Firenze) and the Istituto di Cultura Sinta (Mantova) are recording in video testimonies of Roma survivors who were inmates in Italian camps.

19 direct testimonies and 10 indirect of the Genocide of the Roma can be found online on the website porrajmos.it.