Ceremony held to remember Libyan Jews killed in WWII camps

For the first time,  a commemoration ceremony has been held in Rome on 27 January at the monument of the Jews of Libya at the Verano Cemetery, to remember the Libyan Jews deported to the extermination camps di Giado, Sidi, Azaz, Buerat El Hsum, Buq Buq, Auschwitz, Reichenau and Bergen Belsen.Report in Shalom:

David Gerbi standing beside a plaque recording the names of Jews who died during WWII and are buried in desecrated cemeteries in Libya

This is a little-known aspect of history, which deserves prominence in the light of the important role played by the Tripoli Jews within the Jewish community of Rome.

“There has never been a commemoration dedicated to the Shoah in Libya, neither in Italy nor in Europe,  in the history of the Memorial Day,” explains David Gerbi, President of the Association Safeguarding Transmission of the Jewish Heritage of Libya (ASTREL), which organised the event.  “It is important, because there is no place where they can come looking for us and apologize for what they did to us. These were Nazi-Fascist camps, so there was also the Italian responsibility. And it was better for Italy to forget Libya ”.

A page of history that has long been put aside nationally and internationally, but the time has come to bring it to light. At a conference dedicated to the Jews of Libya last November, David Gerbi presented his research project  into the names of those buried in desecrated cemeteries, in order to carve them on tombstones to be placed at the Verano Cemetery:

“I want us to be remembered too and for our victims of the Shoah to have a name. Not remembering them would mean killing them again and since we are the last Jews born in Libya we have the obligation to remember – explains David Gerbi – we had a giant from our Community, Sion Burbea who was deported to Bergen Belsen and managed to come back . He founded the Beth Yacov temple here in Rome, he was very loved by the people. We do all this to remember our dead, but it will be a memorial ceremony; the religious ceremony we will do on Saturday, in which we will read the names, exactly as the Jewish Community of Rome does on 16 October, and we will do the Kaddish, giving a voice to people who cannot speak ”.

The ceremony was attended by Jewish high school students, together with the President of the Jewish Community of Rome Ruth Dureghello, Rav Shalom Bahbut, Yoram Ortona, son of a victim of racial laws in Libya, Saul Meghnagi, UCEI Councilor, Ambassador Giulio Terzi , Luigi De Salvia, president of Religions for Peace, Roberta Ascarelli, president of the Jewish-Christian Friendship of Rome, Joseph Taché who read the testimony of Sion Burbea, Rocco Giansante of Yad Vashem and Friederike Wallbrecher, president of the Association Remember Together.

Read article in full (Italian)

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