Shoah, Mattarella quotes Primo Levi: “It cannot be separated from fascist tyrannies”

The President of the Republic on the occasion of the celebration of Remembrance Day at the Quirinale: “It must never be forgotten that Italy adopted ignoble racist laws during fascism”

“The history of deportation and concentration camps cannot be separated from the history of fascist tyranny in Europe: it represents its foundation taken to the extreme, beyond all limits of the moral law that is engraved in the human conscience. With these words, a survivor of the hell of Auschwitz, Primo Levi, sculpted, in 1973, the judgment on the roots and primary responsibilities of the most serious extermination, organized and planned against women and men defined as inferior races, carried out in history of humanity”. This was stated by the President of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella, on the occasion of the celebration of Remembrance Day at the Quirinale.

“The most abominable of crimes, in terms of gravity and size – the genocide of millions of innocent people – committed in the middle of the last century in the heart of civilized Europe, where for a long time – continued the Head of State – the ideals of freedom , of respect for human rights, of tolerance, of brotherhood, of democracy had spread, were proclaimed and widely practiced”.

“The man of the twentieth century – immersed in the time of reason, of unconditional trust in the progress of science, culture, technology – would never have thought of finding himself – the President of the Republic further underlined – faced with such a tragic turning point; never would have conceived the possibility of such a regression: while he was confident – as was proclaimed – in a radiant dawn for humanity, he suddenly found himself plunged into the thickest darkness”.

“Auschwitz opened – and still opens – its gates on a abyss beyond imagination. An absolute, unprecedented horror – to which nothing else can be equaled – conceived and created in the name of ideologies based on the myth of race, hatred, fanaticism and abuse. A horror – said Mattarella – that seemed inconceivable, so far was it from the feelings that are normally attributed to the human race”.

“Giusti constellation of lights and hope”

“In the thickest darkness, in the long and dark night of humanity, to borrow an image from Elie Wiesel, many small flames indicated a path other than hatred and oppression. They were the ‘Righteous’, according to a terminology dear to the persecuted Jewish people. People who, for different reasons, risked their lives and sometimes even lost them to save Jewish citizens from the Nazi-fascist murderous fury”, stated the President of the Republic.

“A long list of names, almost eight hundred ascertained so far in Italy, a constellation of lights and hope – underlined the Head of State – which continues to reassure us about the destiny of humanity. The most disparate people: women and men, lay and religious, partisans and members of the police force, state officials, intellectuals, farmers. United by courage, by the revolt against cruelty, by the sense of humanity”.

There are those who hid and protected, those who falsified documents and lists, those who helped to expatriate. Thousands of gestures, large and small, of revolt against conformism and the prevailing ideology. Faced with barbarism, faced with injustice, all these people did not turn their heads, they did not turn their gaze elsewhere. They have defeated, first of all within themselves, fear, complicit inertia, indifference which, as Liliana Segre often reminds us – to whom I address an affectionate thought eighty years after her deportation – is the most pernicious of sins ” .

“The ‘Righteous’ – the President of the Republic continued – have demonstrated, at the risk of their own lives and that of their families, that the sense of humanity, if correctly cultivated, resists in all conditions and even surpasses the boundaries of time and of death. They taught us, even in the face of enormous tragedies, the saving value of gestures of courageous solidarity. Because, to repeat the famous saying of the Talmud, ‘whoever saves a life saves the whole world'”.

“The example of the Righteous – added Mattarella – lights up our path. And allows us to re-weave that web of trust in the human race which seemed to be forever destroyed with the construction of the extermination camps”.

“Never forget that Italy adopted ignoble racist laws during fascism”

Dutifully celebrating the Righteous must not make us forget the many, too many unjust: the fearful, the informers for money, for envy or for conformism; the Jew hunters; the murderers; the ideologists of racism. There is no greater wrong that can be committed towards the memory of the victims than to drown the responsibilities in an indistinct cauldron or carry out superficial operations of denial or reduction of guilt, whether personal or collective”, stated the President of the Republic.

It must never be forgotten – reiterated the Head of State – that our country, Italy, adopted during fascism – in a climate of overall indifference – the ignoble racist laws: the initial chapter of the terrible book of extermination; and that members of the Republic of Salò actively collaborated in the capture, deportation and even massacres of the Jews. An inextinguishable burden of pain, of blood, of death on which we will never have to lower the veil of silence”.

“Dangerous return of anti-Semitism, social media without control and modesty”

“Our Constitution – he said – provides clearly: all citizens are bearers of the same rights. The Jewish presence was fundamental for the development of modern Italy and in the formation of the Republic. The Italian Jewish communities know that Italy is their home and that the Republic, of which they are an integral part, will not tolerate, in any way, threats, intimidation and bullying towards them“.

On the occasion of the celebration of Remembrance Day at the Quirinale, Mattarella underlined that “the dead of Auschwitz, scattered in the wind, continually warn us: man’s journey proceeds on bumpy and risky roads. This is also demonstrated by the return, in the world, of dangerous cases of anti-Semitism: of prejudice that follows ancient anti-Jewish stereotypes, strengthened by social media without control and without shame“.

“Always committed to Israel’s security, anguish for hostages and victims in Gaza”

“We are witnessing, in the world, a return of anti-Semitism which has recently taken the form of the unspeakable, ferocious anti-Semitic massacre of innocents in the terrorist attack which, in that page of shame for humanity, which occurred on October 7th, he did not spare even boys, children and even newborns. Image of a creepy replica of the horrors of the Shoah“, said the President of the Republic.

“We are convinced that the deposits of hatred have been magnified by ruthless, even blasphemous words and actions. The dream of peace, sanctioned by the mutual recognition and respect of the three monotheistic religions, daughters of Abraham, appears distant – perhaps as it has never been in recent times – but the horizon remains for a redemption of this part of the world, and not only this one”, the words of the Head of State.

“Let’s look at Israel as a country close to us and fully friendly, today and in the future, for sharing history and values. We are and We will always be committed to your safety. We feel the anguish growing within us, day by day – added Mattarella – for the hostages in the cruel hands of Hamas. Anguish also arises due to the numerous victims among the Palestinian civilian population in the Gaza Strip. Many women and children. First of all for the indispensable respect for the human rights of everyone, everywhere”.

“And also because – he continued – a reaction with such dramatic consequences on civilians risks giving rise to new levels of resentment and hatred. It may increase the obstacles to reaching a solution capable of ensuring peace and prosperity in that region, so central to the history of humanity and so tormented.”

Those who have suffered the vile attempt to erase their people from the earth know that another people cannot be denied the right to a state“, stated the President of the Republic.

“Culture unites and does not separate”

We are facing a new ‘apocalyptic ridge’ to use an expression dear to Giorgio La Pira“, stated Mattarella. “Slogans, gestures of hatred and terror seem to fascinate and attract again, on our continent but also elsewhere. An in-depth reflection should be made on this: investigating the motivations that push numerous people to cultivate in an unacceptable way symbols and traditions of nefarious and threatening ideologies, which have brought humanity only pain, destruction and death. In this regard, the decisive importance of culture and education must be recalled. How precious – for example – are the study and research collaborations between universities, which are always positive; always a source of civilizational advancement, above every frontier. Always affirmation of the character of culture, which unites and cannot separate”, said the President of the Republic.

We persist in remaining confident in the future of humanity. In the profound belief that a future full of intolerance, war and violence is not the desire written in the consciences of women and men. The Righteous, with their courage, their hope and their sacrifice, show us the direction and encourage us to act, with determination and at all levels, against the preachers of hatred and the bringers of death. The Italian Righteous are among the best roots of our Republic. This is why we celebrate and honor them, all together, as the Italian people and as a community, on Remembrance Day”, said the President of the Republic.

“Today we have remembered – added the Head of State – some names: from Giorgio Perlasca to Gino Bartali and the others who have been proposed again for our recognition. I would like to mention some others who have shared the tragic fate of the deportation of the people who attempted to help. Odoardo Focherini, administrator of the Catholic newspaper ‘Avvenire d’Italia’; Torquato Fraccon, partisan, who died in Dachau together with his son; Father Giuseppe Girotti, Dominican; Calogero Marrone, head of the registry office of the Municipality of Varese; Giovanni Palatucci, regent of the Fiume police station; Andrea Schivo, prison officer in the San Vittore prison in Milan. Discovered and arrested by the Nazi-fascists, they ended their lives in the German concentration camps”.