ROME, OCT. 20, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Romans recalled a grim day 59 years ago, when 1,022 Jews were deported to Auschwitz. Only 15 returned.
A special Day of Remembrance was organized here last Wednesday, to recall that Nazi deportation.
The day, promoted by the Community of Sant’Egidio and the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, was observed under the motto: “There is No Future Without Memory; Whoever Does Not Remember the Past, Is Destined to Repeat It,” Vatican Radio reported.
Participants in meetings organized for the occasion included Chief Rabbi Ricardo Di Segni of Rome; Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace; and Walter Veltroni, the mayor of Rome.
Among the events was a congress entitled “For a Europe Without Anti-Semitism” and a silent march of hundreds of people from the Capitolio to the Portico d’Ottavia, a street that has been renamed “Largo 16th of October of 1943.”
In the early hours of that day, the raid began in Rome’s old ghetto. More than 100 armed Germans surrounded the Jewish quarter. Another 200 military men took up their positions in the 26 operative zones into which the Nazi command had divided the city.
When the hunt was over, 1,022 Roman Jews were captured and locked in 18 sealed train cars destined for Auschwitz. When the war was over, only 15 people — 14 men and one woman — returned home. Nothing was ever heard of the 200 or more children who were seized.
“We met the SS lined up with clubs in their hands,” former deportee Piero Terracina recalled. “We were divided in two lines, one for men and one for women. It was the last time I saw my mother.”
Amos Luzzatto, president of the Italian Jewish Communities, and Rabbi Di Segni received a message from Pier Ferdinando Casini, president of the Chamber of Deputies, who joined the event in spirit and said: “It is everyone’s duty to be vigilant so that the horror of anti-Semitism will never return.”