Rome commemorates anniversary of Nazi raid.

Rome on Wednesday marked the 80th anniversary of the Nazi raid on the Quadraro district during the German occupation of the city in world war two.

The capital’s mayor Roberto Gualtieri unveiled a plaque in Quadraro to commemorate those rounded up on this day 80 years ago, in what he called “one of the darkest chapters in the history of our city.”

“Rome will never forget the victims of Nazi-fascism and those who put their lives at risk to give us a better future of freedom and democracy”, Gualtieri wrote on social media.

Wasp’s nest

During the war years the southern Quadraro area was well known for its partisans and opponents of the regime, and as such was referred to as a “wasp’s nest” by the SS chief in Rome, Herbert Kappler.

At dawn on 17 April 1944, under the code name Walfisch (Operation Whale), the Nazis rounded up around 2,000 men from their homes in Quadraro, deporting as many as 947* men, aged between 16 and 60, to concentration camps in Germany and Poland.

The operation took place at around 04.00 and was led by Kappler who, less than a month earlier, was responsible for the Fosse Ardeatine massacre near the Via Appia Antica in Rome.

The then German consul general of Rome, Friedrich Eitel Moellhausen, wrote that Quadraro was viewed as the refuge of “informers, partisans, communists.” 

Moellhausen also wrote that Kappler “was of the opinion, expressed several times, that when someone could not find refuge or welcome in convents or at the Vatican, he slipped into Quadraro, where he disappeared.”

For Rome, in terms of size, the Quadraro operation was second only to the raid at the Ghetto district on 16 October 1943, when more than 1,000 Jews were deported to the Nazi extermination camp at Auschwitz.

*The number of those deported from Quadraro ranges from 683, based on a list compiled by the parish priest Gioacchino Rey, to the much higher estimates of 740 and 947.

Image: Identification card of Sisto Quaranta who survived the deportation of Quadraro and died aged 93 in 2017. Photo Corriere della Sera.

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