The Project

The Shoah Memorial of Milan, Italy, is located deep within the city’s Central Station on a sublevel below the main tracks. It was here that deportees arriving from San Vittore prison were loaded onto livestock cars.

Originally used for loading and handling mail cars, in the years 1943–1945, this place was where thousands of Jews and political opponents were loaded onto livestock cars, which were then lifted to the track level above and joined together into trains headed for Auschwitz–Birkenau, Mauthausen, and other death camps or concentration camps, both abroad and on italian soil. such as the deportation camps at Fossoli and Bolzano.

The first train left on December 6, 1943: out of the 169 people deported that day, only 5 survived the war. On January 30, 1944, the second train loaded with Jewish prisoners left the Central Station bound for Auschwitz–Birkenau. Only 22 of the 605 people deported that day would survive. One of them was Liliana Segre, who was thirteen years old at the time. In spite of her youth, she managed to survive the horrors of Auschwitz; her dearly beloved father did not.

Of all the places in Europe that had been theatres of deportations, the Milan Memorial is the only one that has remained intact. It renders homage to the victims of the Holocaust. It is a vital, dialectical setting where one can actively work through the tragedy of the Shoah. It is a place of commemoration, but also a space for building the future and promoting civil coexistence. The Memorial is meant to be a place of study, research, discussion, and interchange: a memorial for those who were, for those who are, and especially for those who will be.

It is a place symbolizing the deportation of the Jews and other persecuted peoples to concentration or death camps. It is a place for memory and awareness, a multifunctional center for conferences, seminars and exhibitions so that past atrocities will never find refuge in oblivion. Most importantly, it is a venue for dialogue and interchange among cultures, teaching the new generations to overcome linguistic, cultural and social barriers so that the extremes of brutality witnessed in the twentieth century—the Shoah being the absolute nadir of human barbarity—can never happen again.

The Place


The Wall of Names


Today, the Stolpersteine—initiative of the German artist Gunter Demnig as a response to denial and oblivion—is Europe’s largest decentralized monument dedicated to the victims of the Nazi genocide, whatever the reason for their persecution: religion, race, political ideas, sexual orientation.

Literally “stumbling stones”, the Stolpersteine are 10 x 10 cm blocks of stone bearing a brass plaque set into the ground before the final dwelling places of people deported to the death camps. The plaques are inscribed with the person’s name, date of birth, place and date of deportation, and the date of death. It is one way of keeping alive the memory of the victims of the deportations in a place symbolizing everyday life—the home—while inspiring all those who pass to reflect on what happened in that place on that date, so that it will never be forgotten. Over fifty thousand Stolpersteine have already been placed in Europe.

In Milan the first stones were set before the houses of Gianluigi Banfi, Adele Basevi Lombroso, Dante Coen, Melchiorre De Giuli, Giuseppe Lenzi and Alberto Segre, killed at Auschwitz, Gusen, Nordhausen and Dachau. Today nomerous more have been added.

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