«Behind the parody of Auschwitz there is not only ignorance, there is something much worse»

The no green pass demonstration in Novara.

At first blush, the temptation would be to dismiss it as an act so abnormal and senseless that it doesn’t even deserve a comment. A group of no vax and no green pass, in Novara, paraded through the streets wearing fake uniforms of deportees from the Nazi extermination camps. “What happened is not just an outrage on memory. There is an ideology behind it. Yes, because relativizing the Holocaust also means questioning the founding principles of a democratic state”. Milena Santerini, national coordinator for the fight against anti-Semitism and vice president of the Shoah Memorial, is convinced of this. She has organized, with the Community of Sant’Egidio and the Jewish Community of Milan, the demonstration scheduled for this evening (6.00 pm) in front of at the memorial. The appeal is addressed to all civil society, to respond to the outrage with testimony and reflection. It will be a silent presence, but strong and eloquent.

“We are concerned, as well as indignant, by the continuous abuse that is made of the images and symbols of the Holocaust and of deportation in general,” observes Santerini. «Compare a series of measures taken, between the other, for the protection of everyone’s health, with the Nazi persecution of the Jews is an act of guilty victimhood. It is an offense to all the victims and survivors, also because it distorts a memory that must unite us and not divide us”. It is no coincidence that this evening the gathering will be held right in front of the Shoah Memorial in Milan, «a concrete place, which speaks to us of concrete history, given that people were deported from there. We shouldn’t even need places like this to know that the Holocaust really existed.” And it was unique in history, an abyss that elides any possible comparison: «It was an immeasurable event, because the decision to eliminate the Jews in Europe, as such, is unprecedented. We can, on a scientific level, correlate it with other moments in history, but that event remains immeasurable».

This is why protesting against the green pass dressed as camp deportees does not only express foolishness and ignorance. “There is a problem with the stability of the democratic system” continues Santerini. “Maybe at that motorcade some easily manipulated people may have also taken part, but there is certainly a political ideology behind it. What happened during the Holocaust is a warning for today, as it pushes us to say “no more dictatorships, no more persecutions, no more racism”. So relativizing the Holocaust also means questioning the democratic foundations of our state. And today we will demonstrate because we love the Constitution”. There is a memory to cherish. Direct witnesses are less and less. And what do our kids know about Auschwitz? «They have the information, because, it must be admitted, the school does an extraordinary job. The problem is that knowing is sometimes not enough. We need to understand, because this is the only way to avoid repeating the same mechanisms. And there is a huge amount of work to be done on this, we all have a great responsibility».

«Behind the parody of Auschwitz there is not only ignorance, there is something much worse»