December 02, 2019

Italian town says 'no' to Holocaust memorial, calling it divisive

Source: Jpost
Schio - The municipal council of the Italian town of Schio has rejected a proposal to honor its citizens who perished in the death camps with Stolpersteine, the engraved brass stones placed as a memorial in front of the homes where Holocaust victims once lived.

Alberto Bertoldo, a member of the center-right governing coalition, said that an initiative of this kind would have risked “generating new hatred and division,” the Italian daily La Repubblica reported last week. “Let the victims rest in peace.”

The motion to install 14 stones was presented by an opposition council member from the center-left Democratic Party.

The rejection sparked outrage among many representatives of the local and national authorities, as well as in the Italian Jewish community.

“The fact that ‘stumbling blocks’ have been considered a provocation by the municipal council of Schio represents a shameful legitimization of the attempt of oblivion on the crimes of the regime,” said Noemi Di Segni, president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities.

She added that a similar decision by a public institution is “even worse than acts by individuals because with this decision Holocaust denial becomes an official act.”

Valter Orsi, the mayor of Schio which has a population of 40,000, defended the rejection. “We do not support political exploitation,” he said, according to the Italian daily Corriere della Sera. “A plaque honoring camps’ victims already exists in our city.”

The Stolpersteine art project was created in 1992 by German artist Gunter Demnig. Each stone features the name, year of birth, date of arrest and fate of the person honored. There are currently about 70,000 stones in 21 countries in Europe.