|A ghetto (from the Italian: geto nuove - “New Foundry”, a historical area of Venice, which was referred to for the first time in 1516) are areas of big cities where the ethnic minority lives voluntarily or with compulsion in more or less severe conditions. The word historically goes back to Venetian ghettos where only Jews were allowed to live.
The first Jewish ghettos appeared in Italy, Germany, Spain and Portugal in the 16th century.
In the first half of the 20th century, the ghetto idea came back in several newly formed European countries-limitrophes.
During World War II, residential zones of occupied territories, where Jews were forcibly relocated for compact living, are called “Ghettos” and which were protected by German Nazis or local nationalists supporting the Nazi regime. The most popular ghettos were the Warsaw Ghetto in Poland, Terezinsky ghetto in the Czech Republic and the Minsk Ghetto in the Soviet Union and post-Soviet territory. All ghettos, except in Terezinsky and Budapest were been liquidated along with their inhabitants.
In the USA, regions of cities, populated by colored minorities (such as afro-Americans, Latin-Americans etc) were often called “Ghettos”.
The Venetian Ghetto (Italian: Ghetto di Venezia) is an isolated piece of land in Cannaregio in Venice.
In the middle ages, the foundry shop (ghetto) was located on this site. Jews appeared in Venice in the beginning of the 12th century and settled down basically in Judecca. In 1516, the Council of Ten took a decision to accommodate all the Jews of Venice in the Ghetto. Further, this name began to be used even for other Jewish enclaves.
The Venetian Ghetto was surrounded by channels and was connected with Venice’s other three bridges, which were closed by gates in the evening. Except for doctors, it was prohibited for Jews to leave the Ghetto at night and the safe-guarding of the gates and surrounding channels was taken by Christian guards. In due course, Jews were allowed to leave the Ghetto provided that the Jews wear special headdresses and a yellow color as a symbol of distinction. The professional ban for Jews was not applicable in manufacturing, usury and medicine. Also, it was not permitted for Jews to own immovable property. Since Jews were not allowed to take up fine arts, synagogues in the Ghetto were designed by Christian architects.
The increasing number of Jews in the Ghetto led to the construction of high buildings up to 8 floors high, the so-called Venetian skyscrapers. In 1541, the Old Ghetto (Italian: Ghetto Vecchio) and in 1633 the Newest Ghetto (Italian: Ghetto Novissimo) were added to the region. By this time, the Jewish population of Venice exceeded 5000 people and consisted of three communities: Alemany (Germany and Eastern Europe), Levant and Spanish communities.
In 1797, Napoleon liquidated the Ghetto gates but after the arrival of the Austrians, the gates were restored. In 1866 the gates were finally dismantled.
Till now, the stone slab (at the entrance in the foundation of Cannaregio) is preserved, on which a punishment is written for those christened Jews, who secretly continue to observe Judaic ceremonies. The monument for Holocaust victims by Arbit Blatas, Jewish museums, two working synagogues, kosher restaurants and a Jewish library still exist in the Ghetto territory.|