Italian Jewish community rejects fee to enter former Nazi camp

Marcy Oster

ROME (JTA) — The Jewish community in Trieste is protesting a suggestion by an official in the Italian municipality to charge an entry fee to a former concentration camp there.

Mauro Tabor, a representative from Trieste on the national board of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, said Tuesday that he would meet with the mayor and the city commissioner to tell them that an entrance fee to visit Risiera di San Sabba would be a mistake.

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Entrance to the five-story brick compound currently is free, though donations are requested.

Paolo Tassinari, the cultural affairs chief in Trieste, in interviews on Sunday with the local media proposed charging an entrance fee to visit Risiera di San Sabba, which served as a Nazi camp during World War. More than 3,000 people were killed in the Nazi camp located a few miles from the center of Trieste, which is near the border with Slovenia.

Risiera served as a detention facility for the killing of political prisoners and as a transit camp for Jews, most of whom were deported to Auschwitz.

“Risiera di San Sabba is a cemetery and a point of reference for past and future generations,” Tabor said. “No economic issues are possible to discuss; people should be permitted to visit the site for free. This proposal shocks me and I hope that Mayor Roberto Cosolini will reject it with clear words.”

In an interview with the Il Piccolo newspaper, Tassinari noted that visitors to the camp last year gave 16,000 euros in donations (about $18,600), “so those who want to visit Risiera are willing to pay.”

“My idea is to charge the entrance fee in order to reach the goal of making it a European place to mark the memory of the Shoah,” Tassinari said.

In response to the suggestion, Tabor said the Trieste Jewish community is mulling the idea of leaving the national and international board dedicated to activities at Risiera — including ceremonies, visits and projects with schools — and launching an independent board with the National Association of the Italian Partisans and the National Association of Italian Political Deportees, or ANED.