Monti becomes first Italian PM to address commemoration of 1943 roundup of Rome's Jews

Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Monti on Tuesday night addressed a ceremony commemorating the rounding up of Jews in Rome by Nazi troops on 16 October 1943. It was the first time an Italian premier attended the annual event. Monti remarked that in remembering the razzia of October 1943, which resulted in the deportation of over a thousand Jews to the Nazi death camps, "one cannot help but connect what happened with the round-up in the ghetto with the ignoble racial laws instituted [by Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini in Italy] in 1938." Remembering what had happened was not an accessory but “the way to preserve our history and to draw lessons for the present and, above all, for the future,” Monti declared.

The event was co-organized by the Roman Jewish Community and the Community of Sant'Egidio. A torchlight procession from the Trastevere area to Rome’s main synagogue marked the anniversary of the raid of the Jewish ghetto in the capital took. Participants lined up behind a black banner saying ‘There is no future without memory’.

Mario Monti said that whoever denies Auschwitz was ready to commit the same crimes again. He pointed out that unfortunately anti-Semitism had not been defeated yet, but reassured the Jewish community: "I will not leave you alone in the face of any form of denial, belittling or revisionism of the Holocaust.” Nearly 8,000 Italian Jews perished in the Shoah.

The president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, Renzo Gattegna, remarked that anti-Semitism continued to be a threat, especially because it was spread via the internet.

To read the text of the speech (in Italian) by Prime Minister Mario Monti, click here.

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