In an address made late last week, Valter Orsi, mayor of Schio, defended the municipal council’s recent decision to reject a memorial representing citizens of the town who died in Holocaust death camps.
According to Orsi, the proposal was not brought to the town in good faith.
“We do not support political exploitation in our city,” he said, reported Corriere della Sera on November 28. “There is already a plaque for the victims of the camps.”
The installation, proposed by an opposition council member, comes as part of the Gunter Demnig’s “Stolpersteine” art project, which began in December 1992. Each stone, or “stumbling block,” includes a victim’s name, birth year, date of detention and ultimate fate. There are now about 70,000 stones in 21 European countries.
The motion brought before the municipal council called for the installation of a total of 14 stones.
“The fact that ‘stumbling blocks’ have been considered a provocation by the municipal council of Schio represents a shameful legitimization of the attempt of oblivion on the crimes of the regime,” said Noemi Di Segni, president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, as reported by The Jerusalem Post.
While some may have opposed the memorial’s installation, Di Segni explained that the council’s move is “even worse than acts by individuals because with this decision Holocaust denial becomes an official act.”
Italian Senator Daniela Sbrollini told the Corriere della Sera that Schio’s officials have “written a bad page for the city” by prohibiting the memorial.
“The city of Schio must have the courage to remember: those who lose their memories lose their future,” she said. “The memory of a profound racial injustice is not treated so coldly. A choice that has nothing to do with the values shared by the large local community.”
Earlier this year, a Holocaust brass plaque was defaced in Rome with a sticker that, in German, read: "Murderers always return to the crime scene.” The year prior, some 20 stumbling blocks were stolen from the city, reported Israel Hayom.