ROME (Jun. 13)
A new book which names and traces the fate of every one of the 8,000 Italian Jews deported or imprisoned by the Nazis in World War II was honored here Wednesday night.
The ceremonies drew a standing-room-only crowd of diplomats, intellectuals and religious and community leaders of all faiths to the magnificent Palazzo Giustiniani in the heart of Rome.
The keynote address was delivered by Giovanni Spadolini, president of the Italian Senate and a former prime minister.
The diplomats present included the ambassadors of Germany and Israel and the charge d’affaires of the Polish Embassy. The Vatican was represented by Cardinal Johannes Willebrands, formerly secretary of the Holy See’s Commission on Religious Relations with the Jews.
Among the dignitaries present were Italian Chief Rabbi Elio Toaff and Tullia Zevi, president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities.
The guest of honor was Lillian Picciotto Fargion, editor of the vast work of research, titled “The Book of Memory – The Jews Deported from Italy 1943-45.”
Published only weeks ago, its first edition has already been sold out.
Other speakers included Nazi-hunters Simon Wiesenthal of Vienna and Serge Klarsfeld of Paris. Klarsfeld remarked that Fargion’s book gave breath to each person as a human being and not just a number.
“Naming the shadows already brings them out of the darkness,” he said.
Spadolini, a vocal friend of the Jews and Israel, referred to Israel as the “state which arose out of the ashes of the Holocaust.”
For that reason, he said, “the entire West, including the Soviet Union, must show its firm determination to guarantee the historic borders of Israel and the safety of its population.”