International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2017

Joelle Grosso (January 19, 2017)
The Primo Levi Center is collaborating with the most influential Italian-American institutions in New York City to pay tribute to those who tragically lost their lives during the Holocaust and to use this time for reflection.

Friday January 27th is the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a day that consists of worldwide commemorations of the horrific events that took place in Nazi Germany during World War II. Centro Primo Levi is working with NYU Casa Italiana Zerilli Marimò, the Italian Cultural Institute, the Consulate General of Italy, and the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute to organize a week of events that will allow their audience to reflect on the Holocaust in a way that “challenges our idea of history and provides a lens to consider the crisis of the idea of Europe and ponder the current plight of refugees from surrounding countries.”

The week will begin at NYU’s Casa Italiana Zerilli Marimò on January 24th with a symposium organized by the Consulate General of Italy, Centro Primo Levi, Casa Italiana, Italian Academy at Columbia University, Calandra Institute at CUNY, Alliance of Columbia University and the Italian Cultural Institute entitled “Under Glass: Museums and the Display of History.” Guest scholars include Guri Schwarz from the University of Pisa, Laure Neumayer from the University Paris 1 Pantheon-Sorbonne, and Anna Di Lellio from The New School. This brilliant group of international intellectuals will gather to discuss museums of memory and history all over the world. By taking a deeper look at certain museums, they will analyze how those establishments chose to portray history and what measurements they took to do so. There are many museums that serve as living memorials to the Holocaust so it’s interesting to hear the opinion of the experts on how the displays take form and how they affect the viewer.

January 26th will be a day full of interesting events at the Italian Cultural Institute starting with a presentation by Anna Pizzuti. Pizzuti is a school teacher that has been compiling real stories for decades about the foreign Jews interned by the Fascist Regime in Italy. From her research she was able to create a comprehensive national online database which not only provides a different perspective but it has also spurred on historiographical interest worldwide. Following the presentation will be the screening of an experimental film called E42 created by Cynthia Madansky that focuses on the story of Katja Tenenbaum, a girl born in the south of Rome where her parents were interned as foreign Jews. The film sheds light on the ideas of twentieth century political philosopher Hannah Arendt and poses questions on displacement, memory, and oblivion. 

The annual public reading of the names of the Jewish people deported from Italy and Italian territories during the Holocaust will take place at the Consulate General of Italy on January 27th from 9AM to 3PM. Archival remnants of their journeys throughout the years of persecution and war will also be read during the ceremony. 

Take International Holocaust Remembrance Day as a moment to reflect and remember those whose lives were brutally taken so many years ago but also take it as an opportunity to ponder the issues that are currently happening in the world so that we can apply what we’ve learned from the past in an appropriate manner instead of just repeating our mistakes.