Italian Word of the Week LUOGHI

italicsBy Daniela Gross

After the terrorist attacks in Paris, the International Holocaust Remembrance Day is going to be set in a special atmosphere. All over the world, public opinion strongly reacted to that massacre, defending the freedom of expression as a fundamental value of democratic and civil life. Less than three weeks after the Paris incidence, the Holocaust Remembrance Day – which in Italy is called “Giorno della Memoria” – is an opportunity to reevaluate what weight have prejudice and exclusion in our society. To do this, as recently the Minister of the Education Stefania Giannini reminded, we should start from our own local places.

When we talk about the Shoah, we always remember Auschwitz. As a matter of fact, the Holocaust Remembrance Day is set on the day of its liberation. But in Italy, many “luoghi” (places) reconnect us with the terrible logic that finally gave life to persecutions: the Rome’s Ghetto, from where, on October 16, more than a thousand people were deported to the extermination camps; “Binario 21”, the train track of the Milan’s railway station from which the deporting trains were departing; the “Risiera” of Trieste, a former rice-husking facility that became the only Italian extermination camp; the camp of Fossoli, last step for the Jewish prisoners before to being transported to Auschwitz.

Maybe, as we were recently reminded on Corriere della Sera by Ricardo Franco Levi and Alberto Melloni, the terrible physicality of these “luoghi” might help the new generations to understand what really was the persecution against Jews in Italy. To be there, to touch those walls, or the doors of the cells, may be the right way to build a deeper comprehension of history and responsibilities, beyond platitudes and too comfortable visions.