Rome to rename streets that were dedicated to antisemitic scientists

The city of Rome is going to rename streets dedicated to scientists who signed the anti-Jewish Manifesto della Razza (Racial Manifesto) in 1938, the Italian capital’s mayor Virginia Raggi said.

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

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 the one of Gaetano Azzariti, who served as the 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.

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

The streets are currently named after Arturo Donaggi and Edoardo Zavattari. Zavattari was a biologist who promoted the idea of scientific racism; 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. She worked in the same lab as prominent scientist Enrico Fermi. She fled Italy in 1938 to escape anti-Jewish persecutions and died 50 years later 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.

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

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