On Jan. 27, 2015, Italians around the world commemorated the Day of Remembrance of the Holocaust.  In Los Angeles, the Italian Consulate General, the Italian Cultural Institute, the American Jewish Committee’s Los Angeles Regional Office, and the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust orchestrated a public reading of the names of the 8,000 Italian Jewish victims of the Holocaust.

“As Primo Levi said, ‘An enemy who sees the error of his ways ceases to be an enemy,’” said Hon. Antonio Verde, Consul General of the Republic of Italy in Los Angeles.  “That is why events such as Italy’s Holocaust Remembrance Day are fundamental for exactly that purpose.”

“AJC is honored to join with Consul General Verde to remember publicly the Jewish victims of Nazi persecution,” said American Jewish Community Los Angeles President Dean Schramm.  “This moving commemoration reflects AJC’s commitment to working with our diplomatic partners to build bridges of understanding in order to work for both the protection of the Jewish People and to safeguard the human rights of all people around the world.”

The Italian Jewish community, one of the oldest in Europe, numbered about 50,000 in 1933.  Despite its alliance with Germany, Italian military authorities generally refused to participate in the mass murder of Jews or to permit deportations from Italy or Italian-occupied territory.  After Fascist Italy’s fall in 1943, the Germans deported over 8,000 Jews from Italy, Italian-occupied France, and the islands of Rhodes and Kos, most of them to Auschwitz-Birkenau.  More than 40,000 Jews survived the Holocaust in Italy.

In July 2000, the Republic of Italy proclaimed January 27, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, a Day of Remembrance to commemorate Italian Jewish victims of the Holocaust, and honor those who risked their lives to try and save others. In 2005, the United Nations General Assembly designated Jan. 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.