Commemoration of the Holocaust Victims

On the 27th of January, 2015, the Jewish Community of Lithuania in cooperation with the Italian Cultural Institute hosted a conference dedicated to the commemoration of the Holocaust victims. Professor Niccolò Scaffai from University of Lausanne, answered questions and read some excerpts from the work If this is a Man by Primo Levi, an Italian chemist who survived Auschwitz.

LGL staff attended the conference and found it remarkably inspiring and touching. Paola Cioni, director of the Italian Cultural Institute, in her introductory speech to the conference, focused on the necessity to “remember”, an effort intended to take place not only on a single day but also on every other day of the year. At both national and international level, the educational institutions are expected to fulfil this task and fiercely advocate against any form of discrimination, included those related to sexual orientation and identity.

Indeed “identity” is the core concept around which Levi’s work develops.  If this is a Man it is a story of identity, conceived as the most inner definition of the individual itself, and its material and symbolic privation.  The book was written in 1947, two years after Levi’s liberation from the death camp, and it is a collection of memoirs as a prisoner inside the camp. The main goal of this work, as stressed by Levi himself in numerous interviews, was to assure that the horrors of the Holocaust could never be forgotten with the passing of time.

“Even in this place one can survive, and therefore one must want to survive, to tell the story, to bear witness; and that to survive we must force ourselves to save at least the skeleton, the scaffolding, the form of civilization. We are slaves, deprived of every right, exposed to every insult, condemned to certain death, but we still possess one power, and we must defend it with all our strength for it is the last — the power to refuse our consent.” – Primo Levi, If This a Man.