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Mayor Fiorello La Guardia reading the Daily News election results in 1941.

Poems Before Death: Graffiti From a Nazi Prison in Rome, 1943-1944

Contact:  Maria Fosco (212) 642-2020

For Immediate Release - January 27, 2004 - New York-the Italian American Museum is proud to announce that it will host Poems Before Death: Graffiti From a Nazi Prison in Rome, 1943-1944 in collaboration with the Hofstra University Museum and the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute/Queens College, The City University of New York from February 2 through February 29, 2004.

Thanks to the efforts of photographer Liana Miuccio and curator Stanislao G. Pugliese, the unique story of the former SS and Gestapo headquarters in Rome—today where the Museo Storico della Liberazione di Roma stands—can be told.  In the windowless rooms where partisans were interned between “interrogations,” voices emerge from the walls, because here, while awaiting the next round of torture and ultimately--inevitably--execution, they managed to scratch or scrawl with a pencil, a furtively hidden nail or their fingernails, graffiti, random thoughts, fragments of poems, testimonies and poignant pleas. The graffiti are full of pathos and the romantic idealism that so permeated the anti-fascist and anti-Nazi Resistance. Instilled with a classical education, and sometimes writing in Latin or Greek, the prisoners often refer to Dante, the Bible, the Stoics and other writers of antiquity.  The graffiti is poignant and tragic and a telling reminder of the human dimension often times lost in academic discussions of the war.

Italian American Museum, which is in transitional residence at the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute, is located at 28 West 44th Street, 17th floor, Manhattan.  The Museum will be opened Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and by special appointment.

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