Poste Italiane, Italy’s national post service, has issued a commemorative stamp in honour of Roman Holocaust survivor Settimia Spizzichino.
Ms. Spizzichino, who passed away in 2000, had a very special relationship with Poste Italiane. Not only was she a great stamp-collecting enthusiast, for almost 30 years, she was a perforator operator at the post.
An unforgettable voice of Memory, she was the only woman to return after being captured during the raid of the Ghetto of Rome on 16 October 1943.
Settimia Spizzichino was born in Rome on April 15th 1921. Then to be born “a second time”, she recalled, on the day of her 24th birthday. That is when the British came to liberate her, putting an end to the nightmare of Auschwitz-Birkenau, where she was a victim of experiments, and then of Bergen-Belsen.
“I want to remember everything about my life, even that terrible experience called Auschwitz. For this, I believe, I came back: to talk about it”, this what she told anyone who asked her about her past in the concentration camp.
A beacon of courage, determination and civic commitment, the Italian Ministry of Economic Development commemorated the centenary of Spizzichino’s birth by issuing of a commemorative postage stamp.
A cancellation ceremony (Note: as is customary when issuing postage stamps) was held on the premises of the Bibliographic Centre of the Union of Italian Jewish Commmunities (UCEI),
UCEI President Noemi Di Segni, paid tribute to the Settimia Spizzichino’s endeavour to tell her story to the next generation: “An interaction characterised by an awareness, on the side of the witnesses of the Shoah themselves, that there will be someone on the other side to learn the lesson that there will be life even after us.”
For Vice-minister Gilberto Pichetto Fratin, she was an exemplary figure. The minister spoke of the postage-stamp as “a small vaccine that we introduce in 300 thousand doses so that it can remain a warning, in memory of all”.
For Antonio Palma, president of the State Mint Printing Institute, issuing the stamps is an act of Memory “to remind us what happened and what is morally reprehensible”. for instance, he added “the complicity of Italian society”.
Enrico Menegazzo, commercial manager of Poste Italiane, described the commemorative stamp as “a paper stumbling block, which can convey a story that must not be forgotten”.
Carla di Veroli, the niece of Settimia Spizzichino addressed the ceremony, expressing gratitude for having brought to completion this result but also the commitment to continue vigorously on the path of values and principles indicated, with great fortitude by her aunt.
The cancellation ceremony was moderated by UCEI Director of Communication Guido Vitale. Also in attendance was UCEI Secretary-General Uriel Perugia.