Stumbling stones

A rose for the memory of Elia Gino Mussatti

Elia Gino Musatti was a Venetian Jew, born in 1877 into a well off family. His father was a doctor, and his brother a lawyer.

When Northern Italy came under Nazi occupation in 1943, he was in hospital and therefore evaded the first round of deportations of the Venetian Jews.

However, in October 1944, the Nazis went through the hospitals too, and arrested all the Jews they found.

Musatti was on train n. 41T for the concentration camp in Ravensbrück in November, 1944. He did not survive.

Today a stumbling stone was placed in front of the door of his home in Salizada dei Greci, in Castello.

What are stumbling stones?

Stumbling stones — pietre d’inciampo in Italian, Stolpersteine in the original German — are small brass markers, about 10 cm wide, placed at the last place of residence or work of victims of the Holocaust.

Each stumbling stone carries the name of the person, date and place of birth, and date and place of death, if known.

The German artist Günter Demnig came up with the idea in 2012, and since then over one hundred thousand Stolpersteine have been placed around Europe.

On January 15th and 16th, 2024, a total of 26 stumbling stones will join the 159 already in place around the city.

The organisers in Venice are IveserIstituto veneziano per la storia della Resistenza e della società contemporanea — together with the Jewish community in Venice, the German Center for Venetian Studies and the Municipality of Venice.

There is a website for the stumbling stones in Venice (in Italian), with an interactive map and short biographies of the persons.

The laying of the stone

When I arrived in Salizada dei Greci, there were already eight or ten police there, and a sizeable group of people.

The stumbling stone for Elia Gino Musatti was the first today, which meant speeches, journalists and TV crews.

The entire event today (January 15th) was six hours, but I only went to the first part. Even that lasted almost an hour.

The events these days are leading up the International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27.

Remembering

The Holocaust is long ago, and few people now have any direct memories of it. Like so many other events from the past it will be relegated to history.

That does not mean that we can — or should — forget.

The millions murdered in the Holocaust were real persons, who met a horrifying death for no other reason than who they were.

The Holocaust wasn’t the last genocide, and there are genocides, or attempted genocides, happing today in several places around the world. Still, when confronted with news of the death and suffering of tens of thousands, hundred of thousands, even millions, it is all too easy to reduce it to just numbers and statistics.

Elia Gino Musatti

Elia Gino Musatti was a real person, with family, friends and acquaintances. Was he nice, or was he unpleasant? We’ll probably never know, but in relation to his death, it hardly matters.

An injustice is an injustice, even if the victim wasn’t a nice person. A murder is a murder.

A photo of Elia Gino Musatti with a message looking for him.
Somebody looked for Elia Gino Musatti after the war – in vain

When looking for images online of Elia Gino Musatti, I stumbled over this photo.

The note reads:

Search for Gino Musatti, son of Cesare and of Sofia Cantoni, born in Venice in June 1877, of whom the photograph above.

Taken away by the Germans in October 1944 from the “FatebeneFratelli” hospital in Venice.

To anybody who could supply some information or news, please contact Adv. G. Sacerdote, Via S. Quintino, 14 — Turin.

That nothing is ever simple or straightforward when it comes to human beings, becomes clear from a note online about his brother, Alberto Musatti:

He joined the fascists, and in 1923 he was a member of the Directory of the Fascio of Venice. Later he withdrew from politics, and dedicated himself to studies, mostly legal and judicial.

CDEC Digital Library: Musatti, Alberto.

Alberto avoided deportation and survived the war. The note above might be from him, searching for his brother.

Some photos from the ceremony

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