Former Nazi ally Italy “was in the middle of the war [and] has a special responsibility” to commemorate the genocide of the Jews, Ambassador Francesco Maria Talo told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday, as the world marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
In 2000 Italy became one of the first countries to establish January 27, the date of the liberation of Auschwitz by the Red Army, as a national day of remembrance, a date that was designated as an international memorial by the United Nations General Assembly five years later.
On Tuesday afternoon Talo laid a wreath in Yad Vashem’s Hall of Remembrance in what has become an annual Italian custom and which is accompanied by similar activities across Italy, the ambassador said.
Stating that it is wonderful that US President Barack Obama was to participate in a ceremony honoring righteous gentiles who saved Jews during the Holocaust, Talo said that his country’s president participates in such activities every year, and that there are “ceremonies on all levels,” including in “each small town and school” and in embassies around the world.
“In Italy it’s an official mourning day, same as in Israel” on Holocaust Remembrance Day, he continued, explaining that Italians “simply felt it was our duty.”