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Valuables stolen from Italian Jews during WWII given to Yad Vashem

June 21, 2001

Yehudit Inbar , Director of the Museums Division, (center), describes the exhibit of valuables to Foreign Minister Shimon Peres (left), and to Prof. Giancarlo Elia Velori, Chairman of the Autostrada S.P.A. (right) Yehudit Inbar , Director of the Museums Division, (center), describes the exhibit of valuables to Foreign Minister Shimon Peres (left), and to Prof. Giancarlo Elia Velori, Chairman of the Autostrada S.P.A. (right)
Yad Vashem's representatives requested that the tags stating the monetary value be left on each item to show the cold systematic way the Germans dealt with Jewish property Yad Vashem's representatives requested that the tags stating the monetary value be left on each item to show the cold systematic way the Germans dealt with Jewish property

Valuables stolen from Jews prior to their deportation from the Italian concentration camp "La Risiera" to Auschwitz, and discovered in a basement in the Italian Treasury, were recently given to Yad Vashem at a ceremony in the presence of Shimon Peres, Israel's Foreign Minister; Prof. Giancarlo Elia Velori, Chairman of the Autostrada S.P.A. (formerly a member of the Commission for Jewish Restitution in Trieste); Livio Steindler, as representative of the Trieste Jewish Community; Rabbi Abraham Umberto Piperno , Chief Rabbi of Trieste; and Prof. Szewach Weiss, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Council.

Towards the end of the war, seven sacks, five of which contained valuables, were sent by the Nazis in a train traveling in the direction of Berlin. Each item had a label attached with a number and monetary value. The train was captured on the way to Berlin by American troops and the sacks were transferred to the Italian Treasury that apparently exhibited them for the purposes of identification, but when this bore no results the valuables were returned to storage in the Treasury cellar where they remained for 56 years. About two years ago, the head of the Jewish community in Trieste, Mr. Elihu Georgio, discovered a letter written by the American General under whose command the train was captured, from which he learned of the existence of these sacks.

The Italian Government agreed to transfer this confiscated Jewish property to the Jewish Community of Trieste. The Jewish Community, led by its president Mr. Nathan Weisenfeld decided to donate 50 items, chosen by Yad Vashem's representatives, for exhibition in the new museum, which is presently under construction.