Today I watched two young Jewish boys chase each other on the cobbled pavements of the Campo di Ghetto Nuovo, Venice. Their payots (curly sideburns) bounced away every time they encircled each other, laughing with not a care in the world.
The Campo di Ghetto Nuovo or “new ghetto” as it is dubbed, is where the holocaust memorial, the synagogue and the Jewish museum are located. A holocaust memorial and two young boys laughing and playing away served as a reminder to me as to how inextricably intertwined life and death are, no matter how disparate we think they might be.
I inevitably started to think about how the story for Venetian Jews living here when World War 2 was in full sway, was altogether different.
Italy, under the rule of Mussolini then, infamously sided with Hitler. 247 Venetian Jews were deported from Venice, and only 8 returned home.
This plaque is one of many which is part of the memorial. Each image depicts horrific snapshots of scenes which occurred all those years ago. One read as follows:
“The city of Venice remembers the Venetian Jews who were deported to the Nazi concentration camps on December the 5th 1943, and August 17th 1944.
Men, women, children, masses for the concentration camps. Advancing toward horror beneath the whip of the executioner. Your sad history is engraved in history. And nothing will purge your deaths from our memories. For our memories are your only grave.”