1942: New Fascist Attacks in Trieste

In July 1942, the Jewish community of Trieste was targeted by harsher and more damaging attacks. On 20 July 1942, the president of the Jewish community, Enrico Horitzky-Orsini, wrote to the King’s prosecutor of Trieste to denounce the Fascist attack against Jewish buildings and institutions.


Interior of the devastated synagogue of Trieste with signes of fire damage, 1942
© Courtesy of Comunità Ebraica di Trieste

Horitzky-Orsini commented that these acts were evidently intended to insult the Jewish religion (a religious practice, he stressed, that was authorized by the state) by destroying and vilifying its ritual objects. Although the material damage amounted to several tens of thousands of Italian Lire, it was therefore secondary to both the symbolic and artistic value of the heritage targeted by this violence. It is significant that, in addition to irreplaceable works of art, Horitzky-Orsini also lamented the destruction of "relics particularly dear to the heart of every Jew from Trieste", such as the garlands with golden berries and tricolour ribbons with golden fringes placed at the foot of a plaque commemorating the twenty Jewish volunteers from Trieste who were killed liberating the city from Habsburg rule during First World War. In the mind of a former D'Annunzio follower, this was a question of asserting the patriotic merit enjoyed by a large circle of Jewish community members. For years Fascist propaganda had insistently tried to deny Jewish people this status of patriots, as evidenced by articles in national and local periodicals such as “La vita italiana”, “La porta orientale” and “Decima Regio”.