Italy’s far-right government has given the green light to a Holocaust museum in Rome, where nearly 2,000 Jews were rounded up during World War II and sent to concentration camps.
A national museum in the capital would “contribute to keeping alive the memory of the Holocaust,” the government led by Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said after her ministers agreed to the project late Thursday.
The announcement came on the heels of an official visit to Rome last week by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Rome is home to one of Europe’s oldest Jewish communities.
On October 16, 1943, German troops supported by fascist officials raided Rome’s ancient Ghetto, rounding up and then deporting about 1,000 Jews.
Subsequent roundups captured another 800 Jews, and nearly all were killed in the concentration camp of Auschwitz.
Italy’s Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano said 10 million euros ($10.6 million) had been allocated to begin construction of the museum, a long-delayed project first proposed in the 1990s.
Ruth Dureghello, head of Rome’s Jewish community, welcomed the news but called for “definite timeframes and choices that can be made quickly to guarantee the capital of Italy a museum like all the great European capitals.”
Symbolically, the museum will be built on land adjacent to the park of Villa Torlonia, the residence of fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, who was in power from 1922 to 1943.
Mussolini introduced racial laws in 1938 that began stripping civil rights from Jews in Italy and culminating in their deportation.
The architect in charge of the project, Luca Zevi, told AFP the museum should be completed in three years.
The Holocaust saw the genocide of six million European Jews between 1939 and 1945 by the Nazis and their supporters.