Venice celebrates the International Holocaust Remembrance Daywith thirty new stolpersteine in the historic centre and for the first time in Mestre

26 January 2022

Venice, 26 January 2022 - In Venice, the celebrations for the International Holocaust Remembrance Day continue with the laying of new stolpersteine, the small blocks of concrete, lacquered in brass, which commemorate the name, surname, place of deportation, year of birth and death of the Jews deported to the Nazi extermination camps. A total of thirty new stolpersteine will be placed in Venice, joining the 105 already laid in previous years, with two official ceremonies open to the public, both in the historic city centre and on the mainland.

On Thursday the 27th of January, at 9 o’ clock in Campo Santa Maria del Giglio (San Marco 2494) there will be the laying of the first of twenty-nine new Venetian stolpersteine, dedicated to the memory of Fanny Finzi, daughter of Angelo Finzi and Elvira Bassani, who was born in Venice on the 20th of April 1868 and deported to the Auschwitz death camp on the 2nd of August 1944, from which she did not survive.

Twenty-eight other brass-plated concrete cubes will be laid in the sestieri of Cannaregio and Dorsoduro in memory of other Venetians deported to concentration camps: Anna Jona, Angelina Vivante, Achille Perlmutter, Bruno Perlmutter, Gilmo Perlmutter, Ida Aboaf, Adelaide Scaramella Messulam, Anna Scaramella Messulam, Rosetta Scaramella Messulam, Angelo Grassini, Mirna Grassini, Raffaele Grassini, Lina Nacamulli, Anna Forti, Anselmo Giuseppe Forti, Giuditta Forti, Regina Finzi, Davide De Leon, Elena Nacamulli, Mara Nacamulli, Abramo Melli, Ada Melli, Amalia Melli, Enrichetta Melli, Oscar Carli, Benedetta Dina Polacco, Salvatore Vivante, Adolfo Nunes-Vais.

The following day, Friday the 28th of January, at 11 o’ clock, for the first time Mestre will also see the laying of its first stolperstein in Via del Rigo 2, in Carpenedo. The brass-plated concrete cube will be laid in memory of Vittorio Bassi, a young Venetian born on the 4th of June 1901 to Costante Bassi and Emma Magrini and arrested on the mainland of Venice, in Via del Rigo, on the 18th of December 1943. Vittorio Bassi was first taken to prison, then to the Fossoli camp and, finally, on the 22nd of February 1944 he was sent to Auschwitz, where he died.

With the laying of its first stolperstein, the mainland of Venice, which according to recent discoveries bears witness to the presence of a large Jewish community since the end of the 14th century, joins the important European tradition of stolpersteine. Brainchild of German artist Gunter Demnig, this project places small blocks of concrete the size of a cobblestone (10x10 centimetres, approximately 3.9 inches) in front of the homes of people deported to concentration camps, commemorating their names. The aim is to create a network of collective memory in the urban fabric of European cities and to prevent the present from erasing the memory of the past and history from repeating its mistakes.

The German term stolperstein (literally meaning “stumbling stone”, metaphorically a “stumbling block”) derives from a biblical expression taken from St Paul's Letter to the Romans (9:30). Nevertheless, today this word takes on a more metaphorical meaning, closely linked to the International Holocaust Remembrance Day and the remembrance of the victims of Nazi-Fascist persecution and extermination.

Now more than 70,000 all around Europe, the first stolperstein dates back to the 16th of December 1992 and was placed in front of the city hall by Gunter Demnig in Cologne, Germany, exactly 50 years after the Auschwitz decree promulgated by SS commander Heinrich Himmler, which provided for the deportation of all people of Roma and Sinti origin to the Birkenau concentration camp in Poland. Today, stolpersteine can be found in more than 2000 cities in different European countries, including Italy, which began to be part of this important historical tradition in 2010: it was in Rome, in fact, that the first Italian stolperstein was placed. Currently, these traces of history are present in many other cities, including Venice, which joined the project in 2014.

A small block of concrete, set into the pavement of a city, thus becomes a symbol of remembrance and a “stumbling block” for the heart and mind so that the lives of the people who were victims of Nazi-Fascist extermination continue to have value and are never forgotten.