Rome: Golden cobblestones remember victims of the Nazi Holocaust

February 3, 2012. Guidebooks on Rome will bring you to different statues, museums and buildings that evoke the ancient history of the city. Thousands of tourists go from monument to monument every day, but few know that the streets of the Eternal City also have their own stories.

A few steps from Piazza Venezia is the quiet Jewish quarter. Its roads, like St. Peter's Square, is built with cobblestones. Some of the stones are actually made of gold and engraved with a name, meant to honor the memory of those who were murdered by the Nazis.

These three remember Emma Vivanti and the sisters Rosa and Anita Sermoneta. They're located in front of the door to the house where they lived. On October 16, 1943, they were arrested for being Jewish and were never heard from again.

“They are memories that are a little sad because the three people who lived in this house were deported by the Nazis on October 16, 1943. In this neighborhood there are many cobblestones like these that are bad memories and unfortunately some have already forgotten.”

 “I agree with having these kind of remembrances because it's right to do what's necessary to remember what happened and to not repeat it again.”

These golden cobblestones are meant as a reminder of the Nazi Holocaust that killed six million Jews and in hopes that it will never happen again.

Also nearby is the cobblestone of Costanza Spizzichino, she was a widow with three children that was arrested and sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp. She was killed by the Nazis a week later.

“It's important to remember those who were deported to Auschwitz and the many people who suffered from human hatred. I support this kind of remembrances.”

A few steps from the synagogue of Rome, this other cobblestone remembers Michele Sabatello, a 40 year old man who was arrested here on May 3, 1944 and never returned home.

There are more than 75 stones like this in Rome and another 27,000 in Europe. These tiles were first placed on the German streets of Cologne in 1993, they then came to Italy in 2010. The idea came from the German artist Gunter Demnig, who laid the last 16 tiles in Rome on January 11.

“I think to mark the city with this type of remembrance is a good reminder to never repeat such terrible acts against humanity, regardless of religion or what country someone is from.”

These stones are a tribute to the memory and dignity of those killed in the Nazi genocide. In the concentration camps these people were only numbers but they now have a name returned to them laid out in the streets of Rome.

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