International Holocaust Remembrance Day in Florence

2018 initiatives mark “Il Giorno della Memoria”

Maria Rees
January 25, 2018 - 11:08

Florence’s role in the Shoah, with its implementation of anti-Semitic laws and deportation of Italian Jews under the Fascist regime, is a bleak chapter of the city’s history. This week, the city reckons with and reflects on this history: the liberation of Auschwitz by Soviet troops on January 27, 1945 will be commemorated throughout Florence with laurel wreaths laid on monuments and the flag flying at half-mast in Palazzo Vecchio. Numerous associations and institutions are also organising lectures, films and performances to honour the anniversary.

 

Conference in homage to Carlo Levi
January 26, 9am-1pm
Biblioteca degli Uffizi, piazzale degli Uffizi

This is the third event of its kind at the Uffizi library, following previous tributes to Cesare Fasola and Giorgio Castelfranco. On this occasion, the Italian-Jewish painter, author and activist Carlo Levi will be honoured, along with his accounts of the dramatic events of 1943-44. He is renowned for writing Christ Stopped at Eboli (1945), memoirs of his exile in southern Italy for his antifascist political activism, which he compiled just across from Palazzo Pitti. He was later imprisoned in Florence’s Le Murate in 1941 and only released after Mussolini’s arrest. Two self-portraits by Levi belonging to the Uffizi collection will be displayed throughout the morning, along with a third work from a private collection. Info

 

Shalom Italia
January 27, 7pm
La Compagnia, via Cavour 50r

This documentary (in original language with Italian and English subtitles) follows a road-trip across Tuscany of three Jewish brothers who set off in search of the cave they hid in as children to escape racial persecutions in 1943. Aided by the local residents, they survived the ordeal and moved to Israel, not to return to Italy until 70 years later. This humorous adventure directed by Tamar Tal-Anati premiered at the International Documentary Filmfestival in Amsterdam, and was nominated for best film by the Israeli A Q&A session with the filmmaker will follow the screening. Info

 

Shostakovich and the ashes of Babij Jar
January 27, 3.30pm
Gabinetto Vieusseux, Palazzo Strozzi, piazza Strozzi

Palazzo Strozzi’s Gabinetto Vieusseux hosts an afternoon of lectures and music, highlighting the massacre of the Ukrainian Jewish community at Babij Jar in 1941. Babij Jar is considered the largest single massacre by the Nazi regime during its campaign against the USSR, which took place in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev. The afternoon will feature a discussion on Jewish themes in Dmitri Shostakovich’s compositions, along with a performance of his Quartet No. 8 in C minor op. 110 performed by the Domino Quartet. Composed in 1960, this mournful and melancholic piece is a sombre dedication to all victims of fascism and the war. This event is presented in collaboration with Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and the Gabinetto Scientifico Letterario G.P. Vieusseux. Info 

 

Vita Activa: The Spirit of Hannah Arendt
January 29, 9pm
Odeon Cinema, piazza Strozzi

The Odeon will screen Ada Ushpiz’s 2015 documentary on the life and work of philosopher Hannah Arendt. The Jewish-German author caused uproar in the 1960s after coining the phrase ‘Banality of Evil’ when reporting the Adolf Eichmann trial for The New Yorker. Her critical views on the widespread adoption of fascist ideologies caused her to be treated as an outcast in the Jewish community. The documentary offers an intimate reflection of her personal life, including her early affair with German philosopher and Nazi sympathiser Martin Heidegger, and her flee from Germany during Hitler’s rise to power. Info 

 

Dialogo con Etty Hillesum
January 30, 6pm
Teatro della Pergola, via della Pergola

This evening will feature a live performance of excerpts from Luciana Breggia’s 2011 book Words with Etty, an imaginary dialogue between the author and Etty Hillesum. The young Jewish woman recorded the persecution of the Jews in Amsterdam in a series of letters and diaries which she gave away to be published before being deported to Westerbork and then Auschwitz, where she died. The performance features Patrizia de Luca in the role of Etty, with piano accompaniment, bringing her memories to life. Info

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