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Racial laws hit the University of Padova

“I fulfil the duty to warn you that according to art. 3 of the Royal Decree – Law 5 September 1938 – XVI, n. 1390, bearing ‘Provisions for the defence of the race in the fascist school’, as from October 16 next you are suspended from service.  With this curt and bureaucratic letter, received by the rector Carlo Anti 80 years ago, the physicist Bruno Rossi saw his career terminated as an ordinary professor at the University of Padua, together with four other colleagues.

In 1938 they were expelled from the university under the racial laws, which set in motion the machine of anti-Semitic acceleration and persecution: over 200 teachers and students – 51 teachers and 139 students and a dozen technicians. In addition to Bruno Rossi also the economist Marco Fanno, the philosopher of law Adolfo Ravà, the lawyer Donato Donati – dean of political science – some professors and their assistants, including Cesare Musatti and Eugenio Curiel, Tullio Terni, to name just a few.

Of these lives some were cut short, like that of Nora Finzi, Triestine, graduated in Padua in 1941 in Letters: we have only her birth certificate, but not her death certificate, because this accounting was not kept at Auschwitz. The same happened to the Hungarian students Giorgio Arany and Giuseppe Kroò, both enrolled in Engineering, and Paolo Tolentino, born in Graz, enrolled in Letters: all died on an unknown date. The same tragic epilogue happened to the life of Alberto Goldbacher, a professor of Engineering, eliminated on the same day as his arrival at Auschwitz, in 1944.

To pass on the memory, on January 21st, 2018 the German artist Gunter Demnig placed six “Stumbling Stones ” (Stolpersteine) in front of the door of Palazzo Bo, for the first time in front of a university.

Since 2014 a plaque affixed between the coats of arms and marble of the university building, reads: “Distressed by the memory of the massacre of millions of innocent martyrs by Nazi delirium, the University of Padua honours the 200 Jewish professors, students and technicians who the fascist regime turned away from these classrooms with the infamous will to expel them from the civil assembly, often delivering them to the Nazi thugs”.