Both days are celebrated as national festivities, not as days of remembrance and grieving. Without wishing to apportion blame for having started this conflict, the fact that three European countries have chosen different dates and opposing contents for one and the same event highlights the great obstacles encountered on the common path towards shared European values, identities and memories. By oversimplifying we may say that in every country the great tragic events of the past can be divided into four great categories: that which our country or at any rate our predecessors have inflicted on other countries or other peoples, what others have inflicted on us, what we have inflicted on ourselves, what others have inflicted on others.
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Its use is constantly expanding. A factor in the diffusion of the term was its gradual adoption by the Holy See as a form of respect for the victims on September 26, John Paul II actually mentioned it as film title. Also, the term Holocaust, despite being widely used, particularly following the American TV series by that name, which was broadcast in Italian in , had never truly taken root in Italy.
This was due also to the fact that in Italian the word evokes only ancient religious practices and implies no reference to massacres, as it does in English. One should also add that in Italy the murderous persecution at the time was aimed only at Jews, not at Roma and Sinti or other ethnic minorities; therefore employing a word belonging to the Hebrew language has not given rise to situations in which victims of the genocide might feel excluded or placed in competition among themselves.
In order to understand the reasons behind the choice of the January 27 as the date for the commemoration, one needs to briefly outline the history of the Shoah in Italy. Italy was perhaps the only European country in which these two stages of persecution were clearly circumscribed in time, without overlaps this makes Italian events particularly interesting to those who wish to study the specific features of each stage. The great majority of victims of the Italian Shoah were murdered in the extermination camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
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What scant debate followed these two articles took place mainly in the Jewish press. In the autumn of Ricardo Franco Levi took up again his proposal, this time in the Corriere della Sera , again citing the October 16 as the suitable date. On both occasions the debate centered on whether to opt for the most massive roundup operation, which had been carried out by Nazi police with only bureaucratic assistance from Italian police , or for a significant decision taken by Fascists on their own, either in or in In short: which event and whose responsibility should be emphasized?
In the proposal was better received than in , and the need of an ad hoc bill began to be discussed.
The debate — in which I too continued to take part — was complex. The solution that brought it to a close mixed past history, its present significance, tensions of the present and the future. In February the MP Furio Colombo, of the Democratici di Sinistra , submitted to the Lower Chamber a motion urging the government to institute the new commemoration day; the following month Senator Athos De Luca, of the Green Party, introduced to the Senate an actual bill on this subject.
The motion submitted by Colombo retained the suggested date of October 16, and considered anti-Jewish persecution in all its stages, the bill introduced by De Luca was in favor of the January 27 and concerned both Jewish and political deportees.
Both submissions had to face a very troubled journey through Parliament and were finally abandoned. Looking back after twenty years upon on the Italian debate in and on the right-wing proposals to equate Nazi extermination camps with Soviet gulags and the Jews murdered in the gas chambers with the invading and defeated Italian soldiers in Russia, one may observe that these juxtapositions prove the lack of a shared democratic judgement on the history of Fascist Italy.
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Seen from another viewpoint, the Italian law is on one hand similar to the French approach in that it centers on the anti-Jewish persecution, and on the other hand follows one aspect of the German law, in that it mentions the victims, including political deportees and military internees. As for the date, I continue to consider it regrettable that no date specific to the history of the nation was chosen.
Historically, we can say that such did indeed exist, and that in some cases — given the situation of war and dictatorship — it was precisely their political affiliation that made their rescue action and its successful outcome possible. On another level, since the wording used includes only those who directly opposed the purpose of the Shoah, it disregards all those who risked their lives fighting as partisans to put an end to Nazi-Fascism and therefore also to the anti-Jewish persecution.
The wording used, moreover, does not even mention Jewish rescuers, that is those victims of persecution who doubly risked their lives to protect other victims of persecution. As to rescuers in general and the risks they incurred, it needs to be made clear that sheltering a Jew and assisting him while he lived in hiding was not punishable by death, although it is true that rescue actions entailed risks, in some cases even mortal risks.
In themselves, the rescuers are not a category of victims, such as Jews or other deportees. By including them in the text, the law has acquired a further educational role, implying that disobeying criminal rules is both possible and meritorious. The Italian law on the January 27 also refers to political prisoners and members of the military who were deported by Nazi German authorities in In previous decades their memory had not found a proper place within the Resistance, due to a tendency to favor the memory of partisans who died in battle.
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The latter, especially, had fought an often merciless war of aggression, only to become themselves the victims of a half-allied and half-enemy foreign army. I have been unable to ascertain fully how this addition came about. I believe, however, that this addition to the bill was influenced mainly by the course initiated in previous years by the Minister of Public Education, Luigi Berlinguer, of the Partito Democratico della Sinistra , who in had changed the history curriculum in the three stages of the Italian school system, decreeing that the last year of each should be entirely devoted to learning about the 20th century.
I giovani e la memoria [The 20th Century. The Young and Memory], was repeated the two following years and then rendered permanent from October I believe it was this context that originated the change in the text that singled out schools as the main venue for implementing the new law.
Moreover, for some years now the contest between schools held by the ministry is called I giovani ricordano la Shoah [The Young Remember the Shoah]. As a matter of fact, the general guidelines issued to the Italian national school system have not, until now, placed any great importance on the study of the Shoah. As for the history books on contemporary history used in lower and upper secondary schools, several researches have shown that even today they contain omissions and misrepresentations on the subject of anti-Jewish persecution, particularly on the persecution carried out by Italian Fascism.
The calendar of civil celebrations in Italy includes various important dates. Among them, the one thematically closest to the January 27 is the April 25, the anniversary of the partisan insurrection in Milan and in other towns of Northern Italy. On April 25 schools and most places of work are closed. The most important event nation-wide is the great march that takes place in Milan. Over the decades the participation in the various events across the country has decreased.
In the mid-Nineties, when parties that had no connection with the legacy of the Resistance or even had roots in Fascism rose to power and formed the government, participation in the Milan march rose again. With the exception of this event in Milan, popular participation in the Day of Resistance continued to fall.
This decline has very complex causes, including the failure of movements and personalities that are direct heirs of anti-Fascism to engage in the creation of places and buildings dedicated to the knowledge of the causes and the reality of Fascism and anti-Fascism — such as, for instance, a great national didactic history museum — aimed at providing roots for awareness and memory. At the same time, as we have seen this decline in the importance of the April 25, we have witnessed the intrinsic force shown by the January 27, inspired by the unparalleled gravity of the Shoah. The April 25 also suffers from not having a law that requires schools to treat the subject.
However, as there is no specific research on this aspect, it is hard to determine if the January 27 has somehow contributed to the partial decline of the April 25, or if it has counteracted it through its anti-Fascist and anti-Nazi message. At the end of a new official celebration has been added to the Italian calendar.
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The day is universal in scope and concerns human rights and humanity. Besides the numerous events held by central and local authorities, there are those organized by cultural associations, political movements, sports clubs, etc. Then there are all the activities carried out by schools, theatre performances, book launches, the expansion of websites; finally, ample space is devoted to the occasion by newspapers and TV-channels. Over the years, the event organized by the Office of the President of the Republic on January 27 has taken on an ever increasing importance.
As a whole, the events for the January 27 are undoubtedly more numerous and attract a greater audience than those for the 10 February. A comparison with the April 25 is harder to establish, because while the Day of Liberation is experiencing a constant decline in local events, participation in the great national march in Milan remains high. After there was also a march in Milan for the January 27; attendance, however, dwindled rapidly and the march was discontinued after As no analytical research has been carried out on all these events, either for a single year or extending over several years, I must confine myself to a certain amount of random data all referring to The regional authority of Apulia has set up a project called Il Mese della Memoria [Remembrance Month] that includes over 50 events throughout the entire region.
No event in Apulia or Tuscany centered on the rescuers of Jews, who actually are mentioned in the law. Read more. Room features. Air conditioning. Refrigerator in room. Full view. Via Valle Ambrosia 1, Assago Italy. Getting there. Linate Airport 7 mi. Malpensa Airport 26 mi. Assago Milanofiori Forum 9 min. Assago Milanofiori Nord 14 min. Nearby restaurants. That's Vapore Assago.
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