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Giorgio Perlasca, an Italian hero



Giorgio Perlasca, an Italian hero

International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2021

On the occasion of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which is celebrated all over the world on the 27th of January to commemorate the day in which the Russian army entered and liberated the Auschwitz concentration camp (27 January 1945), the Italian Cultural Institutes of Sydney and Melbourne, in collaboration with the Italian Embassy in Canberra, the Great Synagogue of Sydney and with the participation of the Perlasca Foundation in Padua, have presented a webinar dedicated to the extraordinary story of Giorgio Perlasca.

Giorgio Perlasca (Como, 31/01/1910 - Padua, 15/08/1992) was an Italian businessman who saved over 5,000 Hungarian Jewsfrom the Nazi extermination, in the winter of 1944-1945,  by pretending to be the Spanish Consul, being neither a diplomat nor Spanish. As a young man, Giorgio Perlasca joined the Fascist movement, but later moved away from it, in particular because he did not share its racial laws and the alliance between Italy and Germany signed in 1939. In 1942 he moved to Budapest to work for a company from Trieste, and here, in circumstances that will be illustrated by the speakers during the evening, he assumed the false identity of the Spanish Consul, issuing thousands of bogus safe-conducts that conferred Spanish citizenship on Hungarian Jews.

After a brief introduction by IIC Director Lillo Guarneri and the intervention of the Italian Ambassador H.E. Francesca Tardioli, Dr Simon Holloway, PhD in Classical Jewish Studies (Talmud) and lecturer at the Sydney Jewish Museum, where he holds seminars on the Holocaust, has contextualized the facts in the historical period, talking about the racial laws of the time and the situation in Italy and Hungary. Halloway’s speech has been followed by the Rabbi of the Great Synagogue of Sydney Benjamin Elton, who has introduced the italian hero and the facts that saw him as protagonist.

During the conference, some movie excerpts from the RAI and Fondazione Perlasca archives have also been screened.

The event has also featured a brief greeting recorded from Italy by Franco Perlasca, son of Giorgio and president of the Foundation named after his father, whose purpose is to honour his memory through cultural, humanitarian, charitable and social activities in favour of refugees and of people who have been persecuted.

The webinar, which has been held IN ENGLISH on ZOOM, is available here