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On day of remembrance, Italy mourns Holocaust’s legacy of loss


ROME (ANSA) — Italy marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day with events scheduled across the country. Holocaust Day is held on Jan. 27 every year, the date in 1945 when the largest Nazi concentration camp, Auschwitz in occupied Poland, was liberated by Soviet troops.

President Sergio Mattarella expressed “deep and convinced gratitude” to Holocaust survivors who preserve the memory of the terrible ordeal they went through.

“Their stories and their words affect us and urge us, in an exacting way, to commit and be vigilant,” the president said.

He warned that the intolerance that made the Holocaust possible is still alive today. “Even today we have to ask ourselves, how is it possible that the germ of intolerance, discrimination and violence still spreads today in various forms, which go from negativism, to xenophobia, anti-Zionism, old and new racism, supremacy, exasperated nationalism and religious fanaticism?” Mattarella said.

Premier Paolo Gentiloni tweeted that “the Holocaust must not be forgotten, the terrible lessons of the 20th century must be remembered, the reasons of our freedom must be fostered.”

Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi hosted a ceremony at the Campidoglio city hall attended by Roman students. “Remembering is the strongest antidote against oblivion and indifference,” she said.

The commemoration was attended by two Roman Holocaust survivors, Sami Modiano and Piero Terracina, by the president of the city’s Jewish community, Ruth Dureghello, and by the president of the Shoah Museum foundation, Mario Venezia.

Exhibits in the capital organized to commemorate Holocaust Day include “La razza nemica” (The enemy race), running through May 7 at the Shoah Museum foundation at the Casina dei Vallati.

In another event to mark Holocaust Memorial Day, a ceremony in Naples commemorated the city’s two youngest Holocaust victims, Luciana Pacifici and Sergio De Simone, who were respectively 8 months old and 7 years old when they died. Pacifici died in 1944 on a train that was taking her to Auschwitz. De Simone was killed at the Bullenhuser Damm School the following year after being used together with another 19 children for experiments by Nazi SS physician Kurt Heissmeyer based on the Nazi theory that race played a role in developing tuberculosis. 

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