Twenty special pavement stones dedicated to Jews who were deported to Nazi death camps were stolen from a Rome street overnight, the association that installed them, Associazione Arte in Memoria, said on Monday.
The stones by German artist Gunter Demnig were laid in Via Madonna dei Monti in January 2012 and devoted to 20 members of the Di Consiglio family.as ANASA agency reported
The plaques, affixed to the cobblestones in front of the Di Consiglio family home in the Monti neighborhood of downtown Rome, were taken overnight. A gaping hole in the cobblestones was all that remained Monday.
The organization responsible for laying the plaques, "Art in Memory," reported the theft. In July, the same group reported receiving a threatening letter featuring a photo of Adolf Hitler.
"The association denounces this vile act of fascism and anti-Semitism, and invites all Romans to be vigilant and keep memory alive to prevent these criminal acts from continuing and being tolerated and legitimized," the group's president, Adachiara Zevi, told The Associated Press.
Rome mayor Virginia Raggi condemned the plaques' theft as unacceptable: "Memory requires respect" she tweeted. The Rome-based Catholic charity Sant'Egidio vowed to continue honoring Jews who perished.
That memory, Sant'Egidio said, "is all the more precious to defend against the worrisome growth of new racism and discrimination."
Rome's historic center houses the Jewish ghetto, near Monti, and its cobblestoned streets are dotted with more than 200 plaques in front of homes of Jews who were killed or deported during the war. They were made by the German artist Gunter Demnig, who has placed an estimated 70,000 of them around Europe to remember all those who were deported, Zevi said.