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Risiera di San Sabba

Last Update 5 September 2006


map From 30 October 1922 Italy was under fascist rule. During WW2 Germany and Italy became allies and German troops were stationed in Italy. Since 1936 anti-Semitism had increased until finally discrimination and terror against Italian Jews became the order of the day.

SS at the Rice Mill
SS at the Rice Mill #1
After the landing of the Allies in southern Italy in July 1943 and the Italian surrender on 8 September, the southern parts of the country were liberated, but northern Italy remained under German control. The majority of the Jews who had decided against leaving the country, lived here. The Italian army disbanded and German forces ruled the new fascist satellite "Republica Sociale Italiana". The Germans established some of the coastal areas of the Adriatic Sea (Fiume, Trieste, Udine, Pula, Gorizia and Ljubljana) as German territory, named OZAK (Operationszone Adriatisches Küstenland). Odilo Globocnik (born in Trieste) was promoted Höherer SS- und Polizeiführer (HSSPF) Adriatisches Küstenland and arrived in Trieste in mid-September 1943. He resided at Via Nizza 21. Under his command the SS persecuted Jews, political opponents and partisans. The code name for the operation was Einsatz R, a logical successor to the former Aktion Reinhard in Poland.
92 persons, experienced in mass murder in Poland and the former euthanasia killing programme, followed Globocnik, including some Ukrainian SS men and women.

Military Antipartisan Unit
SS at the Rice Mill #2
Michalsen, Globocnik, Wirth, Oberhauser, and Hering visiting a site.
SS-Men in Italy, 1944
One of the Italian concentration camps was the Risiera di San Sabba, a former rice mill on the outskirts of Trieste. The buildings were constructed in 1913 and had already been empty for years, when the Germans confiscated them. The facility was first used as a prison. In October 1943, it was converted into a Polizeihaftlager (police concentration camp). The premises were well suited for such a camp. Three high buildings (3, 4 and 6 storeys) included cells, storage rooms, dressmaking and shoe-making shops and SS quarters. The high old chimney, in combination with the enlarged old oven, was used for cremating thousands of victims. The crematory installations were planned and built under the supervision of Erwin Lambert, the "flying architect" of T4. He had already built the gas chambers at the six euthanasia centres in Germany and Austria and the three extermination camps of Aktion Reinhard in Poland. The crematory was tested on 4 April 1944 by the burning of 70 corpses. From 20 October 1943 until early 1945 around 25,000 partisans and Jews were interrogated and tortured within the camp. 3,000-5,000 of them were killed, either by shooting, beating or in gas vans.

Globocnik's staff mainly consisted of mainly Germans. From October 1943 until May 1944 SS-Obersturmbannführer Christian Wirth was camp commander. As he was killed by partisans on 26 May 1944, SS-Obersturmbannführer Dietrich Allers became commandant until the dissolution of the camp in April 1945.

In late April 1945 Yugoslav partisans prepared to conquer Trieste. As a consequence, on 29 April the Germans blew up the chimney and the crematory in order to cover up the traces of their crimes. The staff went into hiding. Some of them were sentenced in absence but never faced justice in a "San Sabba Trial".

Risiera Risiera Cell


Carnier, Pier Arrigo. Lo sterminio Mancata 418 pages in Italian, Copyright 1982 Gruppo Ugo Mursia Editore S.p.A

Coslovich, Marco. I percorsi della sopravvivenza: storia e memoria della deportazione dall'Adriatisches Küstenland, in Italian, Mursia, Milano 1994

Di Giusto, Stefano. Operationszone Adriatisches Küstenland - Udine Gorizia Trieste Pola Fiume e Lubiana durante l’occupazione tedesca 1943 – 1945, 800 pages in Italian, Istituto Friulano per la Storia del Movimento di Liberazione (IFSML), Udine, 2005
See the website

Foelkel, Feruccio. La Risiera di San Sabba, Italian, Mondadori ed., Milano 1979

Scalpelli, Adolfo (ed.). San Sabba. Istruttoria e processo per il lager della Risiera, Ed. Lint Trieste 1995, 2 voll., 694 pages in Italian, ISBN: 88-86179-56-1

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