Rome to rename streets dedicated to antisemitic scientists

The streets will instead be named after scholars who opposed the fascist regime and were persecuted by it, including two Jewish scientists.

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September 12, 2019 16:15
1 minute read.
A public bus is seen in downtown Rome, Italy

A public bus is seen in downtown Rome, Italy. (photo credit: REUTERS/TONY GENTILE)

The city of Rome is going to replace street names dedicated to scientists who signed the anti-Jewish Manifesto della Razza (Racial Manifesto) in 1938, and rename them after scholars who opposed and were persecuted by the fascist regime, including two Jewish scientists, Mayor Virginia Raggi announced on Tuesday.

The process for changing the names of the selected streets started about a year ago. A motion was approved by Rome’s municipal council, Raggi wrote on Facebook, adding that the actual rededication might take a little longer.

Students and residents of the neighborhoods where the streets are located participated in the process of choosing the new, historical figures to honor.

The streets are currently named after Arturo Donaggi and Edoardo Zavattari. Zavattari was a biologist who promoted the idea of scientific racism, and Donaggi was a psychiatrist.

The Racial Manifesto, which they both promoted along with other prominent Italian scholars, became the ideological and pseudo-scientific base of the racial policies of the regime.

The streets in Rome named after Donaggi and Zavattari will now be dedicated to Enrica Calabresi, Nella Mortara and Mario Carrara.

Jewish zoologist Calabresi took her life in prison in 1944 to avoid being sent to Auschwitz.

Mortara was a physicist who worked in the same lab as prominent scientist Enrico Fermi. She fled Italy in 1938 to escape anti-Jewish persecutions, and died in 1988.

Carrara, a prominent pathologist, was one of the very few Italian academics who refused to pledge loyalty to the Fascist Party in 1931. He was arrested five years later and died in prison.

After the end of World War II, historians concur that in the rush to make a full transition from fascist dictatorship to democracy, Italy failed to address the issue of how much of its economic and intellectual leadership had been involved with the regime.

Many of them were able to continue their careers and were even honored for their professional achievements. An iconic example is Gaetano Azzariti, who served as president of the “Tribunal of Race” and then went on to become president of the Italian Constitutional Court in 1957.

To this day, countless streets and institutions all over the peninsula are still named after intellectuals and professionals who were involved with the fascist regime.


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