Holocaust memorial destruction angers Rome officials, Jewish leaders


ROME – The destruction of a newly installed Holocaust memorial in Rome triggered angry reaction from Jews and city officials.

Vandals late last week removed three memorial “stumbling stones”  just two days after they had been installed in downtown Rome.

Stumbling stone memorials are special cobblestones with brass tops bearing inscriptions citing the names of Holocaust victims. They are placed in streets outside the place where the people commemorated lived or worked. Placing such memorials started in Germany and has spread to other countries in recent years.

The unknown vandals in Rome removed three of the memorial stones placed Jan. 10 and substituted them with normal cobblestones.

“It is an outrageous theft,” said Adachiara Zevi, who heads the Rome ‘stumbling stone’ project. “It was certainly premeditated because whoever carried this out certainly brought normal cobblestones with him to substitute the brass ones. It’s an incredible episode.”

Rome’s mayor Gianni Alemanno called the vandalism a “vile” and “shameful” gesture that had to be “condemned with absolute firmness.”

The vandalism came in the wake of several recent high-profile incidents of anti-Semitism and racism in Italy, including several incidents of anti-Semitism on the Internet.

“We have run out of patience,” said Riccardo Pacifici, president of the Rome Jewish community. He said every year, around the national Holocaust Memorial Day on Jan. 27, “we witness outrages and provocations that we cannot tolerate any more, and we will respond in a decisive way.”