ROME (JTA) — The right-wing mayor of Rome is leading a group of 300 Roman high school students on a trip to Auschwitz.
This week’s study and memorial trip guided by Gianno Alemanno to the former Nazi death camp in Poland continues a tradition started by his predecessor, Walter Veltroni. This year it coincided with both the 70th anniversary of the Kristallnacht pogrom in Germany and the promulgation of anti-Semitic racial laws by the Italian fascist government of Benito Mussolini.
Speaking Monday at Auschwitz, Alemanno said the trip "allows us to comprehend the history of Europe and the darkest part of the human soul." Its lessons, the right-wing mayor said, were "not only for the past but also for the future, and to reject any form of discrimination, intolerance and hatred."
Alemanno began his political career in a neo-fascist youth movement. The Rome newspaper Il Tempo called his visit to Auschwitz "the end of an epoch" and "a historic step within the right wing."
The president of the Rome Jewish community and other Jewish leaders accompanied Alemanno and the students.