Italy approves Holocaust museum for Rome after 20-year wait

Italy's government has approved funding for a long-awaited Holocaust museum in Rome, where nearly 2,000 Jewish people were rounded up during World War II and sent to concentration camps.

Italy approves Holocaust museum for Rome after 20-year wait
The former Jewish ghetto on the banks of the Tiber in central Rome. (Photo by ALBERTO PIZZOLI / AFP)

A national museum in the capital would “contribute to keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive,” read a statement from the government after ministers agreed to fund the project late on Thursday.

The announcement came on the heels of an official visit to Rome last week by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Italian Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano said 10 million euros had been allocated to begin construction of the museum, a long-delayed project first proposed in the 1990s.

Ruth Dureghello, head of Rome’s Jewish community, welcomed the news but called for “definite timeframes and choices that can be made quickly to guarantee the capital of Italy a museum like all the great European capitals”.

READ ALSO: Stumble stones: How Rome’s smallest monuments honour Holocaust victims

The architect in charge of the project, Luca Zevi, told AFP the museum should be completed in three years.

Symbolically, the museum will be built on land adjacent to the park of Villa Torlonia, the residence of Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, who was in power from 1922 to 1943.

Mussolini introduced racial laws in 1938 that began stripping civil rights from Jews in Italy and culminating in their deportation. 

On October 16, 1943, German troops supported by Italian Fascist officials raided Rome’s ancient Ghetto, rounding up and deporting about 1,000 Jewish people.

READ ALSO: Four places to remember the Holocaust in Italy

Subsequent roundups captured another 800 people, and nearly all were killed in the concentration camp of Auschwitz.

The Holocaust saw the genocide of six million European Jews between 1939 and 1945 by the Nazis and their supporters.

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Rome to test new ‘IT-alert’ warning system on Wednesday

People in the Italian capital will get a text message from the government on Wednesday as Italy continues to test the new nationwide emergency warning system.

Rome to test new 'IT-alert' warning system on Wednesday

On Wednesday September 27th at 12pm, all mobile phones in Rome and the surrounding Lazio region are set to receive a message from the new nationwide ‘IT-alert’ system.

“People who get the message have nothing to fear and don’t have to do anything except read it,” said Rome’s city council in an announcement on Tuesday.

The local authority invited “everyone, whether they have received the message correctly or not” to go to the website and fill in a questionnaire, saying “users’ responses will allow us to improve the tool.”

The test of the system in the capital was originally set to go ahead earlier in September, but was postponed amid bad weather as regional authorities wanted to prevent panic in the case of a genuine emergency.

READ ALSO: ‘IT-Alert’: How Italy will warn you of nearby emergencies via text

It will now go ahead on Wednesday and means all devices connected to mobile networks in the area will ring or vibrate at the same time, with the tone different to usual notifications.

Phones will not receive alert messages “if they are turned off or without reception” and may not make a noise if on silent or set to vibrate.

The system will not require people to subscribe to notification services nor to download any apps.

“Every mobile device connected to the mobile operators’ networks, if turned on, can receive an “IT-alert” message,” the developer’s website explains.

IT-Alert, which has already been tested many in other Italian regions, has been set up to warn of “a major emergency or an imminent or ongoing catastrophic event”, the website says.

The ongoing test of the system is designed to fine-tune the service before it is rolled out across the country from the end of 2023.