ROME (Apr. 9)
Jews held a silent demonstration outside the Polish embassy here this week to protest a march by skinheads at Auschwitz.
“The demonstration took place in absolute silence,” Riccardo Pacifici, a member of the council of the Rome Jewish community, said in an interview.
Demonstrators carried banners reading “No to Revisionism,” “We Will Not Forget,” and “Polish Church, Where Are You?”
They were protesting against a march Sunday at Auschwitz by some 100 extreme nationalists, who rallied to protest a ban on building a mini-mall across the street from the former death camp.
Construction was halted late last month in the wake of criticism from Jewish leaders and the Polish government over the plan to sell food and other services to visitors to Auschwitz.
“It’s not so much that skinheads marched,” he said. “There are skinheads all over Europe, including ltaly. What is serious is that they were allowed to go inside Auschwitz, they were allowed to violate the sanctity of Auschwitz.”
Pacifici said he also was concerned that the Polish church and the Vatican did not issue open denunciations of the affair.
“What’s serious is the indifference of public opinion,” he said. “This could lead to the acceptance of revisionism.”
Scores of people, most of them young, took part in the protest Monday evening, which was organized by the Union of Young Jews in Italy, an umbrella group representing Jewish youth organizations.
Four demonstrators — two youths and two survivors of Nazi concentration camps — entered the embassy and met with an embassy official.
They presented him with a letter protesting the skinhead march.
“To allow a group, even a small one, of nationalist neo-Nazis to profane the place that is the symbol of the extermination of the Jews and to provocatively put into doubt the very atrocities that were commited there, provokes dismay in all who look with hope at the construction of a united Europe in which Poland too aspires to participate,” the letter stated.
The demonstration took place less than a day after unknown assailants threw two firebombs at the Polish embassy’s commercial offices. No damage was caused and no one claimed responsibility for the attack.
Police were investigating the matter, but there was no indication whether the attempted firebombing had anything to do with the skinhead march at Auschwitz.
Polish embassy official Tomasz Bartoszewicz said the incident was being regarded as vandalism. But he angered some Jews by saying that he was convinced that Jews had nothing to do with the incident and hoped that the Jewish community would condemn it.
“We do not like it that he just asked the Jewish community to condemn this, and not society as a whole,” Pacifici said.
In another development, police were also investigating an incident late Sunday night in which two wreaths attached to a plaque in downtown Rome memorializing the victims of the Ardeatine Caves Massacre were set on fire.
An anonymous caller told the Italian news agency Ansa that the attack was carried out as a response to “Zionist propaganda” honoring the anti-fascist resistance fighters who helped liberate Italy from fascism at the end of World War II.
Former Nazi SS Capt. Erich Priebke, who has admitted taking part in the massacre of 335 civilian men and boys at the Ardeatine Caves in 1944, was indicted by a military court last week.