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06.03.2018: Italy assumes Chairmanship of International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA)

BERLIN, 2.03.2018 – On 6 March, Italy will assume the Chairmanship of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). The outgoing Chair Ambassador Benno Bättig of Switzerland will hand over the Chairmanship to Ambassador Sandro De Bernardin of Italy. The handover will take place at the Italian Embassy in Berlin, and will be attended by members of the diplomatic corps representing IHRA’s 31 Member Countries.

The event will be opened by the Italian Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany, H.E. Pietro Benassi. Italy has been a member of the IHRA since 1999, and will host two plenary meetings during its chairmanship: the first in Rome in May and the second in Ferrara in November.

Reflecting on the Italian chairmanship, Ambassador De Bernardin said:
“The IHRA is the foremost international network of experts and policymakers working on the topic of the Holocaust – my goal is to increase visibility and awareness of the IHRA in general, beginning at home in Italy. 2018 marks the 80 years since the Evian Conference, the Munich Agreement and the adoption of the racial laws in Italy reminding us how the international community at the time did not recognize the warning signs of what was to come. We need to be vigilant, even now. Throughout our chairmanship, we will focus our efforts on countering Holocaust distortion and safeguarding the historical record.”

Following the speeches by Ambassador Bättig and Ambassador De Bernardin, Dr. Juliane Wetzel, senior researcher at the Centre for Research on Antisemitism at the Technical University Berlin, will present IHRA’s publication “Refugee Policies from 1933 until Today: Challenges and Responsibilities”. The publication is the fourth book in the IHRA series and is the outcome of the IHRA conference in 2017 on refugee policies from the 1930s to the present day held together with the Holy See. The publication focuses on what we can learn from the past in order to strengthen ethically responsible and rational policymaking today.

Prof. Dr. Giulio Busi, director of the Institute of Jewish Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin, will hold a presentation entitled ‘National self-perception and Holocaust education: The Case of Italy’ which will focus on contemporary debates on the topic of combatting Holocaust distortion as well as on how Holocaust education can be improved.

Giuseppe Pierro, Deputy Head of the Italian Delegation to the IHRA, will present an animated film “The Star of Andra and Tati” that was a joint project of the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research (MIUR), Radiotelevisione Italiana (RAI) and Larcadarte. The animation tells the story of the Bucci sisters who were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau during Second World War at the ages of 4 and 6. Mr Pierro will also open an exhibition which features a selection of work created by Italian students as part of the 16th edition of the “Young people remember the Shoah” Competition.

On 5 March 2018 the Italian Ministry of Economic Development will present in a stamp dedicated to the the Italian Chairmanship of the IHRA , as part of its “Civic Sense” programme.

The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance unites governments and experts to strengthen, advance and promote Holocaust education, remembrance and research worldwide and to uphold the commitments of the 2000 Stockholm Declaration.