It was the 18th of September 1938 when the Italian parliament led by Benito Mussolini publicly announced the racial laws on a stage right in front of the town hall in Trieste, north-east of Italy. The racial laws were later promulgated by the king of Italy Vittorio Emanuele the III and their entry into force had devastating effects well before the deportation to concentration camps.
Thousands of jewish people working in the public administration were forced to leave their offices. Jewish students could not go to their schools anymore. University professors, researchers and students were banned from all public universities.
The fascist regime had decided for a slow but continuous exclusion of the jewish people from the Italian public life.
The effectiveness of the laws depended fundamentally on the brutality of the Fascist regime and its representatives, but the exclusion of the Jewish people and the subsequent attempt to annihilate them through deportation and extermination, found a strategic ally in the indifference of the Italian people. This word, indifference, becomes then crucial, so crucial that is has been stated in large letters at the main entrance of the Shoah memorial in Milan.
Inaugurated in 2013 right there where the trains inhumanly loaded with people left for Auschwitz and the other internment camps in Verona, Fossoli e Bolzano, the memorial is the only museum dedicated to the Shoah built where the cruel happenings occurred.
The memorial shows what the effects of the racial laws were. The carriages used for the deportation are still there at platfrom 21, an underground area of the Milan central station, at the time used for the postal shippings and the names of those who lost their lives are clearly written for everyone to remember the horrors of fascism.
The fight against racism, and indifference, goes then through knowledge of the past and education for the future.
Exactly eighty years after the proclamation of the racial laws the Shoah Memorial in Milan will be the main stage of a serie of conferences, workshops and performances dealing with the topics of racism and aiming at the comprehension of the racisms of the past and the current times.
From September to the Holocaust memorial day ( the 27th of January each year) the city of Milan and its jewish community will be committed to the development of a new consciousness through the knowledge of the past.