Holocaust Remembrance Day a call to vigilance against hatred, Italy's president warns

Source: Xinhua| 2019-01-25 03:16:56|Editor: ZX
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ROME, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- International Holocaust Remembrance Day is a call to vigilance against the return of hate-based ideologies, such as those that led to the Nazi death camps during World War II, the President of Italy, Sergio Mattarella, said in a speech at the Quirinal, Italy's presidential palace in Rome, on Thursday.

Mattarella spoke at a ceremony attended by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, as well as political, civil and military officials, Nazi camp survivors, and Jewish community leaders.

The ceremony took place ahead of the annual International Holocaust Remembrance Day (known in Italy as the Day of Memory), which falls on Jan. 27, the date in 1945 when the largest Nazi concentration camp, Auschwitz in occupied Poland, was liberated by Soviet troops.

"The Day of Memory is not just an anniversary when we meditate on one of history's biggest tragedies, but an urgent and constant invitation to commitment and vigilance," Mattarella said. "Acts of anti-Semitism and racism inspired by old dogmas as well as new and perverse ideologies are on the rise in Italy and the world."

The latest of these incidents in Italy occurred on Tuesday, when Senator Elio Lannutti of the populist Five Star Movement, which currently governs in coalition with the right-wing League party, posted a tweet citing a century-old anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that was widely used by the Nazis to justify their genocidal policies.

The tweet sparked outrage from the opposition and civil society, prompting Five Star chief Luigi Di Maio, who serves as deputy prime minister, to distance himself and his Movement from the senator, who later publicly apologized and deleted the tweet.

From early 1942 to late 1944, transport trains delivered Jewish people to the gas chambers at Auschwitz from all over Nazi-occupied Europe. Over 1.1 million men, women and children were killed there, 90 percent of them Jewish, according to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum website.

Others deported to Auschwitz, which was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979, included thousands of Romani and Sinti people, as well as 15,000 Soviet prisoners of war.