Rome area

Camps around Rome, the city with the largest Jewish population in Italy, constituted the administrative center of DP life in Italy. ORT conducted extensive work in the area with  number of large schools in the Italian capital and the surrounding camps. Work was also conducted in many training farms around  the city. 

Rome was the city with the largest Jewish community in Italy and the administrative centre of Jewish refugees in Italy. In order to best fulfil the needs of local population, ORT's courses in Rome were aimed at both DPs and Italian Jews. In 1948 ORT trade school in the city had 253 students and ran courses in knitting, embroidery, sewing, tailoring and dress cutting. Training for mechanics, television technicians, secretaries and salesmen was conducted in the building in via San Francisco di Sales. A school for radio technology was organized in collaboration with the state school for radio technology. A very successful ladies’ hairdressing course was run at via Sistina. An important undertaking was a school for needle trade which was attended by fifty girls aged thirteen onwards. Alongside vocational training, pupils from this school received instruction in general subjects such as mathematics, Hebrew, Italian and Jewish history. Most of the students were orphans or came from very poor Italian-Jewish families. ORT schools in Rome also ran examinations for  DPs who were educated before the war and needed appropriate certificates to undertake professional work.

In July 1948 ORT reported from Rome about the development of the course in mechanical knitting:

‘This school, which has one of the first institutions in this area, is now( April 1947)  rapidly approaching its end. The students of the fifth course are now in the last stages of their training, and will undergo examinations at the end of June. Good news was received from former students of the school, who could successfully resettle as independent artisans in Italy, Australia, Paraguay, and France. During the last two months, 31 students have received their diplomas. The 12 machines at our disposal permitted training of three student groups divided into three shifts of three hours each. The necessary wool for practical exercises was mainly furnished by IRO, for which organization many items such as pullovers, women's caps, scarves etc. have been manufactured. The course in knitted confection is about to start training a third group of pupils. It is interesting to notice that the pupils of this course are mainly wives or sisters of the students of the mechanical knitting course. Many of these family groups will certainly resettle as independent artisans in the countries to which they will emigrate.’[1]


Outside Rome, ORT worked primarly in two large camps- in Cinecitta and Grottaferrata. 

The DP camp in Cinecitta, located in the film studios complex in south east Rome, was the administrative capital for DPs in Italy and the largest Jewish DP community in the country. ORT school in Cinecitta had in early 1948 an enrolment of  167 students who  trained in cutting out of men's and women's garments, dressmaking, machine knitting, knitting, confectionery and building trades.

ORT’s work in the camp in Grottaferrata , a small town near Rome, started in 1947. Its many vocational schools and training workshops ran courses in mechanical knitting, dressmaking, dental mechanics, leather works, watch making and building. There was also a workshop for manufacturing of knitted garments established especially to train girls and women from the families of students training in mechanical knitting. The school was attended by on average 200 students. In October 1947 ORT reported from Grottaferrata about the opening of ‘ a new agricultural school for DP members of the Hashomer Hatzair. Twenty five young men and women will be trained there for one year. This school is combined with a farm which allows for the practicing of all branches of intensive agriculture. The products cultivated there as well as existing climatic conditions are highly favourable for training for Palestine.’[2] Members of Zionist youth groups also attended courses in leather work and shoemaking. After the mass emigration of  1948, Grottaferrata became a centre for training former TB patients. In June that year the first ORT school for watch-making in Italy was opened in the town.

‘Technical equipment was procured in Switzerland, and the Swiss Authorities were so kind as to grant export permits. The school itself is situated in a villa, the verandahs of which have been re-modelled into well-lighted ateliers, optimum illumination being essential for watch-making. Pupils have been carefully selected in view of the prolonged training lasting several years; the 20 candidates chosen will be able to devote themselves to their career without having to worry about the maintenance of their relatives. (…) It is intended to transfer this school to Israel' - reported ORT.[3] ORT's operations in Grotaferrata ended in 1952.

 ORT's school in the community of Anzio, fifty kilometres south of Rome, was training seventy students in maritime trades. There was also an agricultural school as well as carpentry, mechanical and electric installation courses. The school was liquidated in September 1948 after all its students had graduated. ORT's operation in Ladispoli near Rome started in the summer of 1947. In February 1948 the school trained sixteen students as plumbers.  In the summer of 1947 ORT started operating in Nemi, south east of Rome, a training workshop for dressmaking with twenty-four students from the Hashomer Hatzair kibbutz. The school in Ostia trained in February 1948 fifteen students in cutting out of men’s garments and eleven students in cutting out of women’s garments.

An important part of ORTs work in the Rome area was formed by agricultural training aimed at those who wanted to immigrate to Palestine. ORT  courses in tractor operation were started in Capannelle in the summer of 1947. The courses lasted six weeks (later three months) and incorporated theoretical and practical exercises on all kinds of agricultural machines.The school trained twenty-four students at a time. The school also ran courses for locksmiths with specialization in agricultural machinery.The training farm in Montemario near Rome was attended in the beginning of 1948 attended by fifteen students completing a course in agriculture.


[1] World ORT Archive d07a146: Henry Field, The History of ORT: Organisation for Rehabilitation through Training 1880-1949 (Washington DC: unpublished. 1949) p.132

[2]World ORT Archive d04a007: ORT Chronicle no.51

[3]World ORT Archive d04a007: ORT Chronicle no.92a