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Remarks by Mr. Stefano Gatti, First Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Italy to the United Nations, at the screening of "I Only Wanted To Live"

Thank you Mr. Raymond Sommereyns for the invitation to speak. Ambassador Marcello Spatafora, who could not be here tonight, sends his greetings. He has asked me to convey his and Italy’s appreciation of this important initiative for the UN’s observance of the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. The documentary that we are about to see, “Volevo solo vivere” – “I only wanted to live” – by Italian director Mimmo Calopresti, tells the story of nine Italians who were deported to Auschwitz and survived. It begins with the introduction of the “racial laws” in Italy: a stark reminder of the historic responsibilities that my country also bears.

Memory is the key not only to understanding the Holocaust and recognizing its victims, but also to making sure that never again should such a tragedy occur. The General Assembly’s approval of Resolution 60/7, establishing January 27 as the International Day of Commemoration, was an important milestone that was reaffirmed when the General Assembly approved by consensus Resolution 61/255 on “Holocaust denial.”

Italy, together with our European Union partners, was among the co-tablers of this Resolution, whose message is of the utmost importance. It condemns without any reservation any denial of the Holocaust and urges all Member States of the United Nations to reject any denial of the Holocaust as a historical event, either in full or in part, and any activities to this end. Denying the Holocaust or minimizing its significance as a historical event not only reopens the wounds of those who were victims of the Holocaust and their loved ones; it also sows the seeds of hatred, thereby increasing the likelihood of new tragedies. The international community sent through this Resolution an important, unanimous, and much needed message rejecting any such attempt.

Allow me to mention that on January 25 last, the Italian Government approved a law that introduces penalties for the fostering of ideas of racial superiority and of any kind of discrimination; renews the Italian funding of the “Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance, and Research”; and establishes the national observatory on the phenomenon of anti-Semitism.

A final word on education, which is the path to memory. Today especially, with fewer and fewer direct witness of the Holocaust among us, only education will allow the new generations to understand and remember. In 2000 Italy established a national Day of Memory and has initiated several education programmes at all levels. In this framework, Italy is an active member of the “Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance, and Research” which it chaired in 2004.

In closing, allow me to thank you once again for this kind invitation to speak.

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