International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2019

Stumbling Rocks

Last September, during a solemn and memorable ceremony, the University of Pisa mustered all the Italian Universities to commemorate the expulsion of Jewish lecturers and students  in compliance with the Racial Laws promulgated in 1938 by the Fascist regime. 

Eighty years after that infamy, the Pisa event marked a significant day of remembrance and elaboration, with the official apologies of the academy, and with the posting of a commemorative plaque. A long lasting tangible sign.

Currently in Italy, that looks dangerously bewildered, revisionism and fake legitimacy seem to take over and creep in. Moreover, also because of the inevitable passing of the last Holocaust Witnesses, there is a need I would say urgent that even places, and not just people, "talk" to us.

The example that I bring here is that of the "Stolpersteine", i.e. the stumbling blocks that only recently arrived in Italy. They bring evidence, in a successful cooperation between Art and Memory, on the broken lives of those who were hunted by the Nazis and the Fascists up until the extreme consequences. A visible testimony and an evidence suitable to all who walk down the street. 

If you do not stumble, your eyes will notice the stone. Reading those names, looking at the dates of birth and of death of unknown people generates an almost instinctive desire to try to get some more information. The initiative is gradually extending from North to South Italy for persecuted people because of race or politics, anti-fascist priests and soldiers who refused to join the Fascist Social Republic (RSI) after the armistice.

A patrimony of memories that, if wisely implemented, perhaps will save us from the abyss. 

Adam Smulevich