In commemoration of the annual International Holocaust Remembrance Day this year, a number of Winnipeg Jewish groups have partnered with the Italian community to focus on the plight of the Jews of Italy during the Holocaust.
Numerous organizations will be participating, including Winnipeg’s Freeman Family Foundation Holocaust Education Centre, B’nai Brith Canada, The Dante Alighieri Society, which promotes Italian culture, and La Lupa di Roma Lodge, an Italian sisterhood group. Stan Carbone, the Italian vice-consul for Manitoba, and the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada’s program director are participating in the 2018 program, as well.
Belle Jarniewski, chair of the Freeman Family Foundation Holocaust Education Centre, explained that each year, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) rotates to a different country. This year, it will be chaired by Italy, in recognition of the 80th anniversary of the racial laws enacted against the Jews in that country.
“Since 2014, when I became a member of the Canadian delegation of the IHRA, commemorating International Holocaust Remembrance Day became an even higher priority for me,” Jarniewski says.
She explained that the IHRA is an intergovernmental body that promotes Holocaust education, remembrance and research around the world.
Its 31 member countries appoint and send delegations to IHRA meetings, as well as academic and educational working groups. They also establish committees to address challenges in Holocaust education, anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial, the Roma genocide and other genocides.
“It is important to remember,” Jarniewski adds, “that it was an initiative of Silvan Shalom, then head of the Israeli delegation to the United Nations that led to Resolution 60/7, establishing Jan. 27 as a day to honour the memory of Holocaust victims. It also encourages the development of educational programs about Holocaust history, to help prevent future acts of genocide. It rejects any denial of the Holocaust and condemns all manifestations of religious intolerance, incitement, harassment or violence against persons or communities based on ethnic origin or religious belief.”
This year’s series of programming – organized with the support of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, Congregation Shaarey Zedek, B’nai Brith Canada and the Azrieli Foundation – begins with the screening of the film, The Garden of the Finzi-Continis, with an accompanying presentation by Jeremy Maron, who curated the Holocaust Gallery in the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. The film begins in 1938, when the racial laws stripped the rights of Jewish citizens. A story of romance plays out against the historical events.
The film, Jarniewski points out, takes place in Ferrara, where the second Italian plenary of the IHRA will be taking place next fall. The first plenary will be held in Rome in the spring.
In 1943, 183 Jews from Ferrara were rounded up and sent to the death camps. Only one survived.
On Jan. 29, renowned University of Western Ontario Professor Alain Goldschlager will be delivering a lecture on Holocaust survivor and author Primo Levi at Congregation Shaarey Zedek in Winnipeg. Goldschlager, who was once president of B’nai Brith Canada’s League for Human Rights and is a recipient of the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Palmes académiques award, has authored many books, the most recent of which is Les témoignages écrits de la Shoah (Written Testimonies of the Shoah).
On Jan. 30, Father Sam Argenziano of Winnipeg’s Holy Rosary Parish Church will be speaking on the role the Catholic Church played during the Holocaust.
“It will be interesting to hear Father Sam’s take on Pius XII, whose wartime role has been considered controversial in books such as Hitler’s Pope, among others,” Jarniewski says.
“We hope that many will come out to these three wonderful and interesting events.”