This museum tells the story of Italian Resistance fighters who were detained and tortured by German soldiers during World War II.
The Story of the Italians
In 1944, Rome was under German occupation. With this occupation came the persecution of Italy’s Jewish population, propaganda campaigns, and efforts to dismantle the Italian Resistance.
The museum building was originally the German Embassy until it was taken over as the headquarters for the SS. The apartments within the building were converted into jail cells – cells used to detain and torture the Italian resistance.
Eventually, those still alive were freed during the Nazi retreat.
Most of the building was then left as a museum to make sure the resistance and all they went through is never forgotten.
My Visit to the Museum
We arrived at the unassuming building mid-afternoon at the same time as one other tourist, who was British. It was smaller than I expected, this block of flats converted into a secret police headquarters, and we did need to buzz into the building.
The older man working at the museum that day didn’t speak any English. The British woman we walked in with was having difficulties communicating, so I was excited to step in.
“Ciao… Parlo un po d’Italiano.” He smiled at me and repeated his instructions – if we wanted to leave a donation after we saw the museum there was a box on the wall. He was not allowed to physically handle the donations himself.
He looked really pleased when I was able to help everyone understand each other. This is why I learned Italian!
But while I was feeling really great about my translation success, the mood in the museum was somber.
We saw isolation cells with carvings in the wall that prisoners left. They counted the days and wrote goodbye letters to their loved ones. Some rooms were filled with propaganda, whether it was from the Nazi sympathizers or the resistance.
My parents and I had English-language pamphlets to help us navigate the different floors, but everything on the walls – plaques and name tags – were in Italian. The complexities of full paragraphs in Italian were definitely difficult, but I was able to get the gist with occasional help from the pamphlet or a quick google search.
I’m not sure I can put my emotional reaction into words. But I think it is important to bear witness to suffering. To not forget it. If only to fight it ever happening again.
Get to the Museum
Via Tasso, 145, 00185 Roma RM, Italy
The museum is open from 9:00 am to 8:00 pm, with the exception of being closed for lunch between 1:15 and 2:15 pm every day. It’s free to enter, but they do suggest you give a donation in the provided box to help keep the museum open. Details might change after writing this: Visit the website here.
I arrived by using the Metro. The closest stop is Manzoni – Museo della Liberazione.
It was maybe a 3-minute walk from the Metro station, up a quiet street that looks residential.
It’s so important that we don’t forget this history. It must have been tricky to read and understand what had happened to those poor tortured people. What did your parents react to it?
We were all feeling a bit serious after that… so while I’m glad we experienced it, we went to some more light-hearted tourist-y sites afterward. And had dinner in the Jewish quarter – fried artichokes brought the mood up. 🙂
I’m always torn when it comes to visiting these places when I travel. I think it is so important to learn this kind of brutal history and honor the people who went through it. At the same time it really wipes me out emotionally for a good 24hrs after. Thanks for sharing your experience.
You’re welcome! And I agree, it is emotionally draining… Which is why we enjoyed some more light-hearted tourist-y things afterward. 🙂
I understand how difficult it is to express the emotions this type of museum invoke. Having visited nazi concentration camps and the killing fields in Cambodia, I wonder if I have become immune to the horrors humans inflict on each other because I have trouble defining the impact these sites have on me. I strongly believe these histories should never be forgotten. However, this museum doesn’t help that by only posting explanations in Italian.
On one hand, it’s difficult to live if you feel EVERYTHING. On the other, I also worry about desensitization to things like this. And the posted explanations were only in Italian, but we also had English-language pamphlets that gave a good overview of what was in each room. 🙂