Gariwo: the gardens of the Righteous

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Emilio Barbarani, a Righteous at the Farnesina

Gabriele Nissim urges diplomat’s recognition

Emilio Barbarani in Benevento on past 6 March

Emilio Barbarani in Benevento on past 6 March

On past 6 March, European Day of the Righteous, the city of Benevento honoured Emilio Barbarani, the ambassador who together with Tommaso de Vergottini ran the Italian embassy to Santiago del Chile in the Seventies. Students of Rummo High School dedicated a tree to Barbarani in the school’s court yard, reminding us that the then consul “organized the runaway abroad of about 750 people, including leftwing political militants, supporters of the Allende government, men, women and children who only sought to escape the climate of terror that had taken up in those days.”

On 8 October 2015, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomed Gabriele Nissim and a thick group of students of the local High School who, upon the initiative by prof.

Enza Nunziato, promoted the nomination of Emilio Barbarani to the recognition as Righteous.

"The meeting – so reads a diplomatical note from the Farnesina (the name of the Italian Foreign Minister, after the villa of the Farnese noble family that hosts the offices) – was attended also by Anna Sofia de Vergottini, the widow to Tomaso de Vergottini, who ran the embassy over all those difficult years, committing himself, like other diplomats, to the rescue of numerous human lives and to offering people shelter in the diplomatic seat.

'The example of Emilio Barbarani – underlined the secretary general of the Farnesina Michele Valensise – is not isolated. Ever since the time of Guelfo Zamboni, who rescued many Jews in Salonika during WW2, there have been quite many Italian diplomats who have saved women and men from persecution and hatred. In acting following their conscience, they have shown a common cultural matrix, rooted in the values of Italian foreign policy and in our action in the defence and promotion of human rights'.

This recognition was bestowed on H.E. Mr. Barbarani on the European Day of the Righteous, which has been proclaimed by the European Parliament ‘to commemorate those who have taken on moral responsibility to oppose crimes against humanity and the different forms of totalitarianism. .' During the meeting at the Farnesina the students have expounded the motivations that led them to nominate the Italian diplomat ‘who, like others in the past, did not change History, but acted within the only span of control that he had, i.e. his own tasks, his sense of responsibility, without ever fearing for his life, nor accepting rewards'".

12 October 2015


whoever saves a life saves the entire world

In Yad Vashem's Memorial, in Jerusalem, the Garden of the Righteous remembers those who tried to rescue the Jews in the Holocaust: those who hidd them, helped them expatriate with forged documents, nourished them or gave them a job; those who, seeing them suffer, helped them somehow instead of remaining indifferent.In Yerevan's Wall of Remembrance the memorial stones remember the rescuers of Armenians during the genocide of 1915, those who tried to stop the massacre, refused to obey orders, sheltered children, reported the extermination that was occurring beneath their hopeless eyes to the world's public opinion.
In 1994 in Rwanda, some Tutsies who were hunted by the interahamwe militias were protected by neighbours, friends - some times strangers, too - belonginf to the Hutu ethnic group, who refused participating in the "man hunt" with machetes that had been planned by other Hutus to exterminate the country's Tutsi minority.
While ethnic cleansing was ravaging Bosnia leading to the murder of thousands innocent victims some people trying to escape the massacre were helped in the same way by neighbours, school mates, friends, or strangers, who were members of other ethnic groups.
Still todate, in many places in the world, there are such rescuers who risk and sometimes lose their lives in the attempt of helping the victims, and become victims themselves. Other times they lose their jobs, wellbeing, social status or they are imprisoned, tortured, cast out. At any rate, even before starting their endeavours, they know they run a serious risk, but they prefer doing so rather than bearing the weigh of remorse for remaining indifferent for the rest of their lives. Everytime by their action they "save the entire world", as stands in the Talmud.


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