Work on Rome Holocaust museum to start next spring

Mayor Alemanno says final hurdles cleared

Work on Rome Holocaust museum to start next spring

Rome, December 28 - Work on Rome's new national Holocaust Museum, to be built in the former luxury residence of Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, will get under way early next year, Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno said Friday. Alemanno said the last key city council vote would take place in mid-January and the tender would be issued two weeks afterwards, at the end of the month. The contract would then be awarded about two months later, in early spring, he said. "Then, unless there are legal challenges from the firms who lost out, the work can go ahead," Alemanno said. Work on the 22-million-euro project has been delayed several times. The Shoah museum, seven years in the making, got a long-awaited final green light from the Italian parliament on this year's Holocaust Remembrance Day, April 7. But it was then hit by further uncertainty because of financial restrictions in the government's stability pact. The project envisages a conference room, library, video-archive and exhibition room carved out in the grounds of Villa Torlonia. The museum will be built in the landscaped gardens of the villa, the grand neoclassical residence where Mussolini and his family lived between 1925 and 1943. Designed by Italian architects Luca Zevi and Giorgio Tamburini, the museum will be in the form of a black cuboid with the names of Italian Jews deported to Nazi concentration camps during WWII etched on the walls. Its centerpiece will be a huge plaster reproduction of the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau. More than a million people were killed there under the Nazis. Six million Jews died in all the death camps. It was during the 20-year Fascist era that Italy adopted the 1938 "laws for the protection of the Italian race". They were drawn up along the lines of the anti-Semitic laws passed earlier in Germany and were in part responsible for more than 7,000 Italian Jews being sent to their death in Nazi concentration camps. Rome council has also approved the laying of a plaque at the city's Tiburtina rail station to commemorate the date when thousands of Jews were deported from the Ghetto, on October 16, 1943.

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