November 13, 2017

A foundation rewards the French Seminary in Rome for hiding 50 Jews


They were hided for eight months in the building after the Nazi occupation

The French Seminary of Rome received yesterday a distinction for having hidden during the Second World War a hundred refugees, half of them Jews. The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, named after the Swedish diplomat who saved thousands of Jews from death, handed over a plaque to the Roman Catholic seminary stating that “in this building, innocent people persecuted by the Nazis were sheltered” .

A note dated June 5, 1944, in the diary of the French seminary, which housed young seminarians who had come to study in Rome, recounts how “a hundred illegals” were hidden in the building for eight months. Among them were fifty Jews, Italian soldiers who refused to fight alongside the Germans, as well as five British and American pilots and several French and Polish pilots.

At that time, most of the seminarians had been mobilized at the front, so their rooms were available. The German commander was staying right in front of the French Seminary, but, according to the current rector, Monsignor Hérouard, “it did not disturb the religious authorities”.

However, during one of the few records carried out in the seminar by the German authorities, the refugees were hidden in a false bottom under the building’s dining room.