The research project on the names of the Shoah victims in Italy has been led by Liliana Picciotto since 1979 with the financial and human resources provided by CDEC.
The main collaborators were, in chronological order, Gigliola Colombo Lopez, Franca Signorini, Cecilia Hemsi Nizza and, since 2007, Alberta Bezzan.
Since its foundation in 1955, the Centro di Documentazione Ebraica Contemporanea CDEC (Contemporary Jewish Documentation Center) was aimed at reconstructing the list of Shoah victims in Italy, inheriting the task of the Comitato Ricerche Deportati Ebrei CRDE (Research Committee on Jewish Deportees), born in 1945 in Rome under the aegis of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities and led by colonel Adolfo Massimo Vitale.
In 1953 Vitale made a first typewritten list of victims; subsequently, the documents he collected on that occasion were the first documentary heritage of CDEC.
Secretary Generals who followed one another in leading CDEC: Roby Bassi, Guido Valabrega and Eloisa Ravenna carefully managed that heritage and physically moved it from its first place in Venice to the new CDEC headquarters in Milan.
In 1972, in order to produce an incontrovertible document based on reliable sources, CDEC - starting from the Vitale list - launched a new research by collecting every available document in any archive across the world. This relaunch of the project was entrusted to Giuliana Donati, who worked on it until 1974. At that time, a large archive of handwritten documents was established, containing cards for the name of each victim, whose available biographical data were thoroughly checked while new data were added.
In 1979, CDEC considered publishing the complete list of all the Jews who died in Italy or were deported from Italy in the 1943-1945 period. The project direction was entrusted to Liliana Picciotto.
In the meanwhile, new documents had come to light: the profiling of 51.000 Jews or so presumed, made by the fascist government in 1938, the registers of Italian prisons with the names of arrested Jews, the Home Office documentation found for German Prosecutor’s Offices during the trials to Nazi war criminals who had operated in Italy. The analysis of this whole set of documents brought to light new names and data. In 1986, CDEC received a rare and precious computer which imparted a dept change to the research: the data which had been collected so far were merged into an innovative database, created with the help of IT engineer Alfonso Sassun.
The results of the research on the names were published in 1991 by Mursia publishing house, in the book by Liliana Picciotto “Il Libro della Memoria. Gli ebrei deportati dall’Italia (1943 – 1945)” (The Book of Remembrance. Jews deported from Italy 1943 - 1945 ), which had several editions. A fourth edition is in preparation.
The book’s large circulation allowed relatives and friend of the victims to contact CDEC and access the list. Reports and additions, which came in large numbers at the beginning, have been continuing during the years, showing that civil society and the Jewish community maintain a steadfast interest in their past. As new data and additions are still communicated to us, the list can’t be considered the final one but a continuous work in progress.
CDEC through the two monuments “Il libro della Memoria” and this website “Italian Shoah Names” has intended to satisfy historical research and to honour the memory of victims.