The roof of Rome's Great Synagogue, Source: Depositphotos

Italy’s far-right government OKs construction of Holocaust museum

Italy’s far-right government OKs construction of Holocaust museum

The cultural and victim remembrance facility will be located in Rome

Last Friday, Italy’s Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano announced that the right-wing government, which he’s a member of, has taken the decision to greenlight the creation of a Holocaust museum in Rome. For that purpose, the authorities will set aside 10 million euros to fulfil a project that was first conceived at the turn of the current century.

"There is a museum of the Shoah in all of Europe's major capitals and it seemed only right to me for there to be one in our country too," said minister Sangiuliano, as quoted by Wanted in Rome. The museum will be called Museo della Shoah in Italian, referring to the Hebrew term for the Holocaust.

Designed by Italian architects Luca Zevi and Giorgio Tamburini, the cuboid-shaped museum is to have high black walls bearing the names of Italian Jews deported to Nazi concentration camps during World War Two. The Museo della Shoah is to be built on land adjacent to the grounds of Villa Torlonia which hosts the neoclassical former residence of Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini from 1925 to 1943.

Why now?

Reportedly, the plan is to have the institution open its doors sometime in 2026. And although the concept is not new, and it was in fact proposed in 2000 by then-mayor Walter Vetroni, it may come as something of a surprise and a head-scratcher that it took Italy’s most far-right government since Mussolini to make it come true.

According to an Ipsos poll, 7% of Italians believe the Holocaust never took place. Furthermore, in states across the country, anti-Semitic gestures and speech have marred football competitions despite efforts by sports authorities to combat hate and prejudice.

Nevertheless, Giorgia Meloni’s government, while never denying its fascist ideological origins, has made concrete efforts to distance itself from anti-semitism accusations. Some of the arguments, for example, were that Benito Mussolini only imposed anti-Jewish laws 16 after the start of his rule under pressure from his ally Hitler and that anti-semitism was never a cornerstone of the original Italian fascism.

In that context, recently Meloni received a state visit from Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, which was also seen as part of this programme to present the Italian government as friendly to the Jewish people.



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