Holocaust refugee museum opens in Italy


ROME (JTA) — A museum commemorating Jewish Holocaust refugees opened near the Italian town that gave them shelter on their way to Palestine.

The Museum of Memory and Welcome was inaugurated Wednesday near Nardo, in southern Italy. Israel’s ambassador to Italy and Rome’s chief rabbi, Riccardo Di Segni, joined local officials for the ceremony.

Between 1943 and 1947, as many as 150,000 Jews fleeing Europe for Palestine, then still under British control, found shelter in and around Nardo, in the heel Italy’s boot.

The museum is in the seacoast village of Santa Maria al Bagno, one of the main refugee centers where Jewish institutions, including a synagogue, canteen, orphanage and hospital, were set up.

Three newly restored murals painted by one of the refugees, Romanian-born Zivi Miller, form the centerpiece of the museum. The murals were painted on a long-abandoned building.

One mural is of a lighted menorah; one depicts the journey of Jews from southern Italy toward Palestine; and the third shows a Jewish mother and child asking a British soldier to allow them to enter.

Di Segni in his speech thanked local officials for keeping to the opening date "despite the grave international situation." Local media said police stopped four neo-fascist youths who tried to distribute anti-Israel flyers during the ceremony.



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