International Holocaust Remembrance Day
Giorno della Memoria
Journée internationale dédiée à la mémoire des victimes de l’Holocauste
- The Stockholm Declaration / La Dichiarazione del Foro Internazionale di Stoccolma sull’Olocausto, 2000.
In the run-up to International Holocaust Remembrance Day this year, I have been following, on the Corriere della Sera site, a series of short films about the life of Vera Vigevani Jarach: This remarkable 86-year-old lady left her native Italy for Argentina in 1938 with her family, after the passing of the Italian Racial Laws which discriminated against them as Jews. Her grandfather stayed behind and died in Auschwitz in 1944.
In Argentina, Vera married and worked as a journalist but her only daughter, Franca, disappeared in 1976. It was only recently that Vera found out what had happened to her: detained for her militancy, Franca was pushed out of a plane on one of the "death flights" of the period. Thus Vera has had no graveside at which to mourn either her grandfather or her daughter.
These two stories, in Vera's words, have made her into a militante della memoria. One of the founding madres de Plaza de Mayo, Vera believes that her role now is to bear witness and to do all she can to prevent such events ever happening again.
The two films in the series which struck me the most were the one in which Vera goes to talk to students at the Milan school which she herself, as a child, was banned from attending and the one in which, with an Auschwitz survivor, she visits platform 21 in Milan Central Station, the platform from which the trains bound for Auschwitz left. [The platform now houses a Holocaust museum.] If you understand Italian, I urge you to watch these films.
Vera's story, "from the Shoah to the Disappeared" as Corriere entitles it, proves the truth of these words from the Stockholm Declaration:
“With humanity still scarred by genocide, ethnic cleansing, racism, anti-semitism and xenophobia, the international community shares a solemn responsibility to fight those evils.”
“Di fronte ad un’umanità ancora segnata dal genocidio, dalla pulizia etnica, dal razzismo, dall’antisemitismo e dalla xenofobia, la comunità internazionale condivide una responsabilità solenne nella lotta contro questi mali.”