In April, the Holocaust survivor’s will interrupt her speeches in schools to retire to private life
During the ceremony marking International Holocaust Memorial Day, on January 27th, Italian Auschwitz survivor and Senator for Life Liliana Segre moved the European Parliament to tears with her speech. “I am extremely emotional to be here in the European Parliament,” she said. “Upon my arrival, I saw all the flags displayed at the entrance. So many colors, so many countries that are here in a spirit of brotherhood, with people speaking to each other and looking at each other directly in the eyes. This was not always the way things were.” She also addressed the British MEPs, expressing her sorrow for their imminent departure – the EU Parliament approved the Brexit deal on the same day.
Born in 1930 into a Jewish family in Milan, Segre was deported to Auschwitz at the age of 13 and liberated in 1945. However, she only started speaking publicly about her experiences only in the 1990s. When she returned from her ordeal she found a country that was trying to forget the past. And only when she was in her 60s, she decided that the time had come to remember and let people know.
She became Italy’s memory, a constant reminder of what can happen under dictatorial regimes.
For 30 years, she has been one of the most active witnesses of the Holocaust. She gave countless interviews and participated in the making of many documentaries. She recounted her experience as a young girl facing the evils of humanity everywhere she could, speaking to thousands of schools and groups all over Italy. Nevertheless, she has also been launching a mighty message of love for life and to strive against racism and anti-Semitism. She has the ability to turn a story into an unforgettable moment. Not only because her life story as an Auschwitz survivor pierces the heart, but also because her words break through the wall of indifference because she has never been indifferent.
Her impact over the years has been so great that, in 2008, the University of Trieste awarded Ms. Segre with an honorary degree in law.
While in 2010, the University of Verona awarded her with an honorary degree in Pedagogical Sciences. On the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the Italian Racial Laws, on 19 January 2018, the President of the Italian Republic Mattarella, appointed her as senator for life for very high merits in the social field. Her first legislative act was the proposal of the establishment of a Parliamentary Control Commission on racism, anti-Semitism, and incitement to hatred and violence. The motion passed despite the right-wing parties abstaining from the vote.
Recently, she has announced that in April she will stop visiting schools to tell her story to the young generations. At the age of 89, Ms. Segre wants to concentrate on her grandchildren, hoping for a well-deserved serenity.
Ilona Catani Scarlett