Gabriele Nissim. chairman of Gariwo, the forest of the Righteous
“You can't pretend that was just a bad movie or never happened, you can't forget. Going to Auschwitz with a survivor changed my life. I went there some years ago with Nedo Fiano, a writer from Florence who now lives in Milan after surviving the Holocaust. With him I really started to understand what the Holocaust was about".
These are the words by which Matteo Renzi opened the meeting "Whoever saves a life saves the entire world. The quest for the Righteous", hosted by the Tuscany Region at Florence Mandela Forum on January 27, Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Tuscan students were greeted not only by the Mayor of Florence, but also by Andrea Pieroni, of Union of the Italian Provinces, and Region's President Enrico Rossi, who thanked them for "bringing their eagerness to learn”.
Guests of the meeting were the survivors and witnesses to Nazi horror: sisters Tatiana and Andra Bucci, deported to Auschwitz at age 4 and 6 who survived Dr. Mengele, Kitty Braun Falaschi, deported to Ravensbrück and Bergen-Belsen, Marcello Martini, a young partisan courier who was deported to Mauthausen and Antonio Ceseri, a military lager inmate who survived the massacre of Italian soldiers in Treuenbrietzen. Together to remember their experience and pass it on to young people.
“We were in the barrack. The pace at which we adapted was incredible -recall the Bucci sisters.- At the end we were persuaded that it was normal for Jews to live in the camps. Being Jewish meant living like this". Their pain is still sore, and they say "it is no use to explain, because you wouldn't understand". Above all as far as Sergio, their cousin, who was deported with them to Auschwitz and became a human guinea pig for the experiments. "The woman who managed our block was kind. One day she took us aside and told us - it is always Tatiana and Adra who remember - "In a while they will summon you and order you to make a step forward if you wish to see your mother again.. You must not move". We explained our cousin Sergio to do the same, but he did not listen to us. From then on we wouldn't see him again anymore”.
Among the witnesses, to broaden our attention to the other genocide cases in history, there was also Claire Ly, survivor to the violence of the Cambodian Khmer Rouge regime. The woman, who was honored in the Garden of the Righteous Worldwide in Milan, recalled her experience in the gulag and underlined the importance and value of memory, to prevent such atrocities from repeating in the future.
The meeting was closed by Gabriele Nissim, who launched a strong appeal to each of us to remember that it is always, under any circumstances, possible to do something for a better world. "The Righteous do not want to change the world - said Gariwo chairman. Those who helped the Jews did not do so to defeat Nazism, but to strongly stress the fact that evil would not enter their home. I have recently called for Pope Francis to make the European Day of the Righteous stronger. I wrote him a letter to ask him to remember, besides the Church Saints, also the Righteous who helped people during all genocide cases, and I hope this can be fulfilled on March 6, the European Day of the Righteous."