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Italy considers establishing Holocaust remembrance day

MILAN, Italy, Feb. 9 (JTA) — Italian legislators are seeking to establish an annual Holocaust memorial day. Spearheaded by writer Furio Colombo, a member of Parliament from the ruling left-wing Olive Tree Alliance, the motion proposed that Oct. 16 be designated a “Day of Memory.” On that day in 1943, the Nazis rounded up and deported more than 1,000 Roman Jews. The motion, backed by some 200 members of Parliament, also calls for using the day to teach the Holocaust and the dangers of racial and religious persecution. Such a memorial day, the motion said, would allow all Italians, and particularly young people, to recall “discrimination, racial hatred and the crime of persecution, as well as the behavior of those from all political sides who risked their lives and possessions to oppose them.” The motion was presented Feb. 6, but Colombo announced his initiative earlier in the week during a keynote speech at an international conference in Milan. The conference marked the opening of the newly renovated premises of the Center for Contemporary Jewish Documentation, Italy’s only institute dedicated to the documentation of the Holocaust, anti-Semitism and racism. The Italian government “considers that the defense of memory is an important thing for the future of Italy,” Deputy Prime Minister Walter Veltrone told the conference. “We have an obligation to carry collective memory, a sense of history, to future generations.” Several hundred people attended the conference, which focused on the work of Jewish historical and cultural centers. Representatives of research institutes in a number of countries described how more than half a century later, direct memory of the Holocaust is fading, but a renewed interest in Holocaust studies and research is alive. Speakers included representatives from Yad Vashem, the Warsaw Jewish Historical Institute, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, the Institute of Jewish Policy Research in London and the Center for Research on Anti-Semitism at Berlin Technical University.

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