He was two years old, he was one of the 1024 people rounded up from the ghetto on October 16, 1943: he died in Auschwitz with his parents. Elisabetta, on the other hand, managed to save her three children thanks to a taxi driver
We are in the morning of October 16, 1943. Throughout Rome, not only in the ghetto, Jews are kidnapped by the Nazis. 1024 people are taken from their homes. Among them 200 children. Sixteen will be back. One woman and no child. Yesterday a new initiative by the Shoah Museum was presented to the community, which has installed in its headquarters and from 27 January will make an interactive map of the October deportation available online. From the kidnapping of people to their stay at the military college, from the journey towards extermination to the return of the survivors. Memory not only of the great history but of the stories of those human beings whose life was broken that day in 1943.
The little cousin’s dress
Lorella Zarfati one day, after the death of her grandmother Emma Aj Cal, found in a drawer of her house a yellowed pillowcase inside which there was a little girl’s dress. It was that of her cousin, Emma di Veroli, and had been given to her when she was forty days old. The little girl was born in 1941. In that damned October she was therefore two years old. His mom was a 23 year old girl. Her name was Grazia Aj Di Veroli and she was married to Mario. They were a beautiful couple, of boys who dreamed of the future. That morning Mario and the child are in the square of Monte Savello. The Germans take them and load them on the deportation trucks. In the chaos of those moments someone warns Grace that desperately comes down from home in search of her loved ones. He sees them on the German vehicle and doesn’t think about it for a moment, asks to get in to stay with them.
Everyone is trying to escape, Grace, a Jewish girl, cannot imagine surviving without her husband and daughter. Like all the others, they will arrive in Auschwitz, after the short stay at the Military College and the long journey in the sealed wagons. Upon reaching the extermination camp, the mother and daughter will be immediately passed through the gas chamber. only a week passed since that morning in the ghetto. Mario, on the other hand, destroyed by pain and fatigue, died a few months later. Even the father of Grace and Emma, his name was Jacob, will be killed in Auschwitz-Birkenau. He was a peddler, one of the many trades that Jews, after the infamous laws of 1938, could no longer exercise. He was arrested in April 1944 and taken to Fossoli. From there he was then transferred on death journeys to the extermination camp, from which he never returned.
Nazi madness and fascist collaborationism
If you look at the list of the victims of the deportation of October 16, you will find the surnames of families exterminated by Nazi madness and fascist collaborationism repeated. In many neighborhoods of Rome, homes have been emptied, and people have disappeared, swallowed up by the occupant’s killing machine. In Rome, therefore, we knew what was happening. The fascists certainly knew this, and they actively collaborated. Very probably Mussolini had been informed and had given his consent since the day before he had received, as shown in the list of audiences at Villa Feltrinelli, the leaders of the German occupation such as General Wolff, supreme commander of the SS in Italy, and Moellhausen. consul general of Germany. It is difficult to think that the two representatives of the Fuhrer have kept silent about the operation that would have started in the few hours.
Emanuele di Porto, who at 12 never saw his mother again
But there were also real Italians. Workers who risked their lives in those hours, as did those who by choice had decided to fight on the side of freedom. Emanuele di Porto, who was twelve at the time, disobeyed his mother who had ordered him to stay at home. She would have run to warn her father of the events, who had been at work at Termini Station from three in the morning. But Emanuele disobeyed, took to the street and saw his mother already kidnapped on the truck. I was looking out the window. I saw when they took her and forced her into a truck. I ran to her and got into the vehicle but she pushed me off the truck. I haven’t seen her since. Get on a tram, one of the circulars, and tell the bellboy what is happening in the ghetto. And so for two whole days that little boy will sit next to the conductors who, while changing from shift to shift, keep close to that child they don’t know. They take risks, moved only by pity.
The Marauders of Trastevere
Lorella Zarfati tells of her aunt, Elisabetta Aj, who, having learned what was happening to her family and the community, took her three children and went to Via Marmorata, in the Testaccio neighborhood. He hailed a taxi and told the driver, perhaps imprudently, that she was Jewish and did not know where to go. The taxi driver did not report her, did not collect the five thousand lire of the report, but kept it all day in his car. He made her go around Rome and then in the evening he took her home and made her sleep with the three children in the cellar. Lorella’s grandmother, on the other hand, managed to survive the raid because she took refuge in the apartment on the first floor of the building where her father worked as a junkyard. It was a brothel. But the landlady and hospitalized her and in the evening, when the Nazis came to have fun, she hid the family in a closet with the recommendation of absolute silence. The thieves and the whores said Lucio Dalla. And this is how even the rogues of Trastevere enter Lorella’s story. His paternal grandfather Pellegrino Zarfati that morning of October 16 saw two black cars and spotted the trucks in the street. He took the family and they ran up the rooftops. But they didn’t know how to survive. Then he turned to the thief of the neighborhood, the most famous, and asked him for money in exchange for the little gold that had escaped the collection made by the Jewish community to comply with the request – the deception – of the Nazis who forced the Roman Jews to pay in exchange for promise salvation of life. The thief looked at Pellegrino and refused the gold. He gave him the consideration in money but wanted nothing in return. Lorella’s grandfather told him he didn’t know if he would come back. In fact, he didn’t know if he would survive. The thief from Trastevere only said to him: Zarfati, you have to go back, because you have to give me back the money.
October 16, 2021 (change October 16, 2021 | 06:53)
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