Scuola ebraica di via Eupili

A response of the jewish community in Milan to the racial laws of 1938, discriminating against jewish students and teachers in schools of all types and at all levels.

In the Sempione area, in via Eupili 6 and 8, there are two small buildings. In the past, they hosted the Scuola Ebraica di Milano, extended and radically changed right after the issuing of the anti-jewish racial laws of 1938, when the fascist regime decided to expel students and teachers belonging to the “jewish race” from schools of all types and at all levels.

Over the span of a few days, the Israeli community of Milan, whose president was Federico Jarach, decided to create a secondary school for jewish students in these two small buildings. They also enlarge the already existing elementary and middle schools.

The students deprived of their right to education and their teachers who had lost their jobs needed a new place to carry on with their lives; reacting to these discriminatory provisions was crucial, since they had created discomfort, bitterness and confusion. The space in via Eupili was quickly adapted for that purpose, with desks made of wooden planks placed on two stands. The space was very small, while the number of teachers and janitors who had lost their job because of their faith was huge.

Some professors came from outside Milan, some of whom were former headteachers and university professors; among them, there were some people who were well-known for their scientific and educational background.

In a short period of time, they created a Lyceum, a scientific lyceum, an “istituto magistrale”, a technical secondary school, a vocational school and a university-level chemistry course.

The youngest students obtained the permit to attend the elementary school in via della Spiga in the afternoon, since morning lessons were exclusively for non-jewish students. In the school in via Eupili, the students had found a safe guide for their studies and a warm environment, based on solidarity and mutual understanding.

In September 1943, when the nazi policy of deportation and extermination reached the jews in Italy, the school in via Eupili was in grave danger: the nazis had already broken into it after the occupation of Milan, but found nobody inside because summer holidays weren’t over yet.

Despite the situation, they decided to finish the exams in the autumn session. Students and professors stayed in the parking lot, ready to flee; the exams took place regularly and the whole session finished on 25th October. For this reason, the month of October is also called the “heroic month of education”. After this, the school in via Eupili remained closed until October 1945.

Among the jews arrested and deported from Milan and the nearby areas, there were also many students and 11 professors of the school; a memorial stone, located near the Synagogue in via Guastalla, commemorates their death. After the Liberation, the school reopened its door and a new phase of its existence began. However, many students and professors weren’t there anymore.

Today, in via Eupili, the jewish community has kept the building at No. 8 which is now a place of worship and jewish historical research. It is now called “casa di cultura Jacob Malki”; it is the headquarter of the Fondazione Centro di Documentazione Ebraica Contemporanea, where the largest collection of documents regarding the history of jewish persecution is kept and is a place of continuous research.

Next to the entrance there’s a commemorative plate saying: “After the racial laws of 1938, this building has sheltered / professors and students expelled from Italian schools. / With the rebirth of democracy, it was transformed into a place of worship / and an historical research center of jewish history. / In 1996, the building was restored by Elliot Malki, as a tribute to his father Jacob / and as a contribution to a flourishing cultural life.”


Francesca Costantini