Italian students board train for Auschwitz


FLORENCE, Italy (JTA) — More than 800 Italian high school students left Florence by special train for Auschwitz.

The annual Memory Train trip, which left Sunday, is part of numerous events Tuesday in Italy marking Holocaust Memorial Day.

Accompanied by Holocaust survivors and local officials, the students will visit the former Nazi death camp in Poland and also Jewish sites in Krakow.

"The risks of xenophobia, of hatred, of racism, of anti-Semitism are still dramatically present," Tuscany’s governor, Claudio Martini, told the students at the train station.

Other government officials, meanwhile, took part Sunday in a solidarity meeting at the Florence synagogue following the discovery last week of a rudimentary explosive device placed near the synagogue, apparently in protest against the situation in the Gaza Strip.

"We want to embrace the Jewish community at a moment in which their symbols are the object of intimidation and heavy attacks," Martini told the students.

Martini, who took part in the Memory Train trip in 2005, said Tuscany was a "land of dialogue." He announced that at the same time local authorities showed support for the Jewish community and Holocaust memory, Tuscany was bringing a group of wounded children from Gaza to be treated in local hospitals.

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