printperson (printperson) wrote,

La Risiera di San Saba

Two days ago, Geesepalace and I went on a trip to Trieste. We accompanied a group of scholars participating in a National Endowment for the Humanities institute on the Jews, the Venetian Ghetto, and Italian Culture. We have visited Trieste before - a lovely, sparkling city on the sea - but had not gone to these particular destinations. First stop was the Risiera di San Saba. The Risiera was a defunct rice processing plant in the outskirts of Trieste that was taken over by the Nazi occupiers in 1943. They used it as a staging area for prisoners being shipped to concentration camps in the north, and then as a death camp. Thousands of Jews, political prisoners, and Slavic partisans lost their lives here. People were murdered, incinerated in the old ovens used for drying rice. Their ashes and bones were dumped into the harbor. The site is now a museum, very powerful and respectful in its architecture and the presentation of documents and remains. The oven was pulled down - in my drawing of the courtyard, just a trace of the roof line is seen. My second drawing shows a holding area for prisoners. I really don't have words to describe my feelings, but it was an extremely powerful experience to be in that place. I have never visited any concentration camp site in Germany, Austria, or Poland. San Saba was the only death camp in operation in Italy, and I didn't know about it until now.
Tags: risiera di san saba, trieste
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