Italy’s Jewish community set to mark 80 years since 1938 racial laws

President of community campaigning to remove signs honoring King Vittorio Emanuele III.

January 16, 2018 18:06
2 minute read.
King Victor Emanuel III, (R) Adolf Hitler (C) and Benito Mussolini (L)

King Victor Emanuel III, (R) Adolf Hitler (C) and Benito Mussolini (L) watch fascist troops march past from a balcony in central Rome in this 1941 television file footage.. (photo credit: REUTERS TV)


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The Jewish community of Italy is holding a series of events beginning Thursday to commemorate 80 years since the Italian Racial Laws were approved under the Fascist regime, which restricted the civil rights of Jews.

The first event will be a theatrical representation at Rome’s Auditorium Parco della Musica, recalling what the community describes as “one of the most deplorable pages of our recent history.” The play reenacts the trial of King Vittorio Emanuele III – who reigned from 1900 to 1946 and approved the racial laws – and will “reflect on the collective responsibilities of the Fascist regime, institutions and part of civil society which silently accepted the infamy of these laws.”

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The subject of the exiled king’s actions against the Jewish community is particularly pertinent, after his remains were flown back from Egypt last month for reburial at a family mausoleum near Turin. The move was fiercely opposed by the Jewish community, with the president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, Noemi Di Segni, remarking that it “cannot fail to generate deep concern.”

“We need to say it clearly, in all fora: Victor Emmanuel III was an accomplice of the Fascist regime, whose rise he never opposed, and of its violence,” Di Segni said in a statement.

Di Segni has written to Culture Minister Dario Franceschini asking that Vittorio Emanuele III’s name be removed from schools and public libraries in Italy that are named after him. The events set to be held in the coming days will also honor International Holocaust Remembrance Day which is to be marked on January 27.

Next Wednesday, a convention in Rome organized by the Union of Italian Jewish Communities will examine issues pertaining to the actions of the fascist regime and the racial laws.

On January 28, for the second time, a “Run for Mem” will be held in memory of the Holocaust. The run this year will be held in Bologna and seeks to affirm life, “which continues despite all the attempts that have been made over the centuries to exterminate the Jews as well as other populations, with genocide and massacres,” a description of the event reads.

The events will conclude the following day with an international conference to be held in Rome, about the responsibilities of countries, institutes and individuals in the fight against antisemitism in the framework of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which Italy is chairing this year.

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