Monumento al Cimitero ebraico

This monument commemorates the victims of the Shoah and those who died fighting alongside the Resistance.

In the Cimitero ebraico in Milan, accessible by passing through the right side of the Cimitero Monumentale, there is a monument commemorating the jewish people who died in that massacre. The monument has been inaugurated in 1947, at the presence of jewish, military, political and civil authorities.

The monument was conceived and promoted by Raffaele Cantoni, the president of the jewish community of those years, as a symbol of the tragedy that hit the Italian jews.

It is one of the first works of art, installations and memorials commemorating and spreading knowledge about the Shoah in Italy. The function this monument is intended to fulfill in the community and among the people is represented by the twelve bodies of jewish people who died on Italian soil and buried at the base of the monument. This choice was aimed at presenting their death in a patriotic national frame, and due to the impossibility to bury here some of the victims of extermination camps. The memorial stone states: «The Jewish people of Italy / remind the world / of the six million innocent brothers / brutally killed / and pass down to future generations / through the victims buried here / an example of the secular martyrdom / suffered by the people of Israel / for justice and liberty / and human brotherhood / 13th July 1947».
For the promoters of this commemorative monument, those bodies outline a meaningful image of the persecution of jews in Italy and, at the same time, they are an expression of how intertwined the general dimension of the Shoah and the specific one of the fight for Liberation actually are.

There is a woman killed in the transit and detention camp of Bolzano, on the road of deportation to Auschwitz; and there’s a man who died in prison in Milan after being tortured and another one killed during the nazi incursion in the Synagogue in via Guastalla. Most of them are jews who fought as partisans with the Resistance; one of them had enlisted as a volunteer in the Italian army fighting with the Allies; another one is described in the memorial stone as «an activist of the jewish Risorgimento in Eretz Israel, year 1947». The twelfth body belongs to Ester Botton Mosseri: born in Salonicco on 23rd March 1895, and thrown in the lake by the nazis in Meina; she was one of the 16 victims of the first jewish massacre perpetrated by the nazis on Italian soil, which occurred in Meina near lake Maggiore. Some soldiers and officials of the SS Armored Division «Adolf Hitler» imprisoned the jews for a few days at the last floor of the Hotel Meina and, on 22nd and 23rd of November, they eventually took all the adults, three young men aged 15, 12 and 8 and their grandfather. The same day, their bodies were seen floating on the water, not too far from the hotel.


Francesca Costantini