Italian politicians and Jewish leaders have condemned the vandalizing this week of four tiny memorial plaques embedded in sidewalks in front of apartment buildings where Roman Jews were living when they were deported from the Nazi-occupied city in 1944 and sent to their deaths in Auschwitz.
A woman passing by Tuesday on one sidewalk in the Trastevere neighborhood known for its nightlife noticed the blackening of two side-by-side plaques. The markers name the residents and cite the date the two were hustled away during the German occupation of Rome in the last years of World War II. Two other plaques were also vandalized in apparent acts of antisemitism on a nearby block outside the building where two other deportees lived.
“I hope that unfortunately what is happening in other European countries, particularly in Paris, isn’t being repeated by us,’’ said Victor Fadlun, who is president of the Jewish Community of Rome. He was referring to the discovery of anti-Jewish graffiti on buildings in several districts of the French capital on Tuesday.
The anti-Jewish vandalism and graffiti come weeks into the Israel-Hamas war in which thousands of Israelis and Palestinians have been killed and hundreds of Israelis have been taken hostage by militants in Gaza.
Among politicians condemning the vandalism in the Italian capital and offering solidarity to Rome’s Jews was Mayor Roberto Gualtieri, who decried the “unacceptable and miserable gesture.”
Investigators are working to determine if the vandals torched the four plaques or used black paint.
Bronze memorial plaques, known in Italian as “tripping stones,” have been placed in front of buildings on several Rome streets where Jews were living when they were deported — most of whom perished in Nazi-run death camps abroad.
Italy’s Jewish community numbers about 30,000 in a nation of 57 million people.