IYesterday morning, December 4, 2020, Marsilia Del Bar passed away after a long illness, the last valance you belong to the Sinta linguistic minority survived the attempted genocide suffered during fascism and Nazism. Marsilia was born on January 20, 1942 in the large family of the De Barrè traveling show business. She has been a protagonist in the Sinta Community of Mantua since the end of the 1970s, together with her husband Rodolfo. Today the entire Mantuan Sinta community mourns the passing of a great woman who, with her commitment and tenacity, offered Mantua an example of determination and firmness, facing life’s adversities with dignity and courage. The funeral will be held privately on Monday morning in San Silvestro di Curtatone.
Marsilia was born in the concentration camp for Italian Sinti of Prignano sulla Secchia in the province of Modena where her family has been imprisoned since the autumn of 1940 when the Ministry of the Interior gave the internment order for all Italian Sinti and Roma. According to Giuseppe Landra, head of the Race Studies Office, people belonging to the Sinti linguistic minority could “infect the Italian race”. At the registry office his surname becomes Del Bar. In September 1943, after the armistice, his family escaped from the concentration camp and lived in hiding until the end of the war in the Modena and Mantua areas.
At the end of the Fifties she married Rodolfo Ornato and together they formed the large Del Bar family with the birth of Norma, Davide, Sandro, Nada, Denis, Barbara, Yuri and later with the birth of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Marsilia and Rodolfo carried out the traveling show business in the Mantua area and in the neighboring provinces for many years. During the economic crisis of the 1970s the traveling show entered a great crisis and they settled in Mantua starting the business of trading lace and ferrous materials. Marsilia dealt with the trade in lace and haberdashery, beating the entire province of Mantua and beyond. An activity carried out by most of the women belonging to the minority. The economic crisis accompanied by the lack of state support for the traveling show caused the country to lose an irreplaceable social, economic and cultural capital.
In Mantua Marsilia and Rodolfo live with other Sinti families from Mantua in Strada Bosco Virgiliano. In the mid-1970s, together with Don Albino Menegozzo, they formed the first association to represent the needs of the Sinta community of Mantua. These were difficult years and the commitment of Marsilia and Rodolfo led to the opening of an initial discussion with the Municipality of Mantua for the construction of a small area equipped with toilets where to place the caravans and trailers of the families belonging to the minority. Marsilia with her combative temperament becomes a point of reference among the women of the community.
In the mid-1980s, after a decade of meetings with the Municipality of Mantua, the so-called “gypsy camp” was built in viale Learco Guerra, thanks to regional funding. The area, far from the city and cut in the middle by the drainage channel of the purifier, is in rammed earth with a small masonry structure equipped with two showers and four open-air Turkish baths. Marsilia and Rodolfo are the first to enter the area but they immediately understand that the “gypsy camp” is a form of segregation where there can be no future. They sell the small carousel they had left and buy a small property in the Trincerone area where they settle. The Municipality of Mantua opposes it, orders ENEL to interrupt the electricity service and starts a legal war to expel them from their property. Marsilia and Rodolfo did not give up and obtained justice in court.
A few months after the victory in court, on March 26, 1989 Rodolfo suddenly passed away. A very hard blow for Marsilia who at the age of forty-seven was left alone with seven children. Yuri, who will be elected city councilor in 2005, is an eleven-year-old boy. The bewilderment and pain pervades the whole community that gathers in Marseille. The loss of her husband forces Marsilia to return with the whole family to the so-called “gypsy camp”. The Nineties are years of sacrifices for the children who do not miss anything but also of joy for the birth of the first grandchildren. These were years in which Marsilia did not miss her political commitment which in 1996 led to the birth of the Sucar Drom association with the aim of giving the Sinta Community of Mantua an instrument for the conquest of linguistic minority rights.
At the end of the Nineties the association will work towards the recognition of Porrajmos. The testimonies are collected and the places of internment of people belonging to the Sinti and Roma linguistic minorities in Italy are identified. Marsilia does not remember anything of those years in which she was a newborn child but she keeps the stories of her older brothers, her uncle Jeka and her uncle Mauri who, together with the book written by her uncle Gnugo, identify the concentration camp where children were interned. In 2010 the Sucar Drom association promoted the laying of the first Slab of Memory of the Sinti victims of Porrajmos in the place where the concentration camp of Prignano sulla Secchia once stood, now the seat of the municipal administration.
Marsilia’s last political act was in 2013 when she wrote an open letter to regional councilor Riccardo Decorato proposing a racist law to target people belonging to the minority. A law that will never see the light.
Today the entire Mantuan Sinta Community mourns the passing of a great woman who with her commitment and tenacity offered Mantua an example of determination and firmness, facing life’s adversities with dignity and courage.
To the pain of his disappearance is added the pain of not having seen the institutions, starting with the Municipality of Mantua, apologize to Marsilia for having suffered racial persecution during fascism. We remind you on January 27 of last year that even though you were tried by a long illness, you wanted to be present at the commemoration of Porrajmos at Platform 1 of the Mantua station where the extermination trains departed.
Bye Marsilia, you will remain in our hearts.