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Italy celebrates Liberation Day

'Long live free Italy,' tweets Renzi

25 April, 17:48

    (by Paul Virgo) (ANSAmed) - ROME, APRIL 25 - Italy celebrated the 69th anniversary of its liberation from Nazism and Fascism at the end of World War Two with a national holiday on Friday.

    "Thanks to the rebels of that time," Premier Matteo Renzi said via his Twitter account, @matteorenzi, referring to the Italian resistance movement that helped the Allies end the Nazi occupation of the country. "Long live free Italy".

    Renzi then walked from the premier's office to Rome's Altar of the Fatherland monument, which hosts the tomb of the Italian unknown soldier, for a ceremony with Giorgio Napolitano, Senate Speaker Pietro Grasso and other top institutional figures.

    Parades and rallies are taking place all over Italy Friday followed by Liberation Day concerts in many towns and cities later.

    A postwar tradition has seen Liberation Day as celebrating the moment when a divided Italy rallied behind Resistance leaders to raise the country from the ashes of Fascism and recover a patriotic honour forged in the 19th-centry unification of Italy, the Risorgimento.

    Extreme right-wingers contest this view though, with some refusing the celebrate the holiday, claiming Italy betrayed its wartime alliance with Germany.

    Several monuments to the Resistance have been vandalised in recent days. But Napolitano stressed the positive role the Resistance played in Italy's history and the development of a modern democratic State.

    "The values and merits of the Resistance, from the Partisan movement and the soldiers who sided with the fight for liberation to the Italian armed forces, are indelible and beyond any rhetoric of mythicization or any biased denigration," Napolitano said. "The Resistance, the commitment to reconquer Italy's liberty and independence, was a great civil engine of ideals, but above all it was a people in arms, a courageous mobilization of young and very young citizens who rebelled against foreign power".

    The president also stressed the role women played among those who "were united by the same fundamental objective of achieving a future of peace, for which armed mobilisation was necessary". Napolitano added he will attend ceremonies on June 6 in Normandy, France marking the 70th anniversary of the Allied invasion of Normandy, or D-Day. "I will be there, in the name of a people who broke with Fascism and Hitler's enslavement, and in the name of our armed forces, who were fighting alongside Anglo-American forces in Italy," said the 88-year-old head of State. "Two days before the landings in Normandy, on 4 June 1944, the Allied forces arrived in Rome as liberators, thanks in part to the heroic contribution of the Italian Resistance in Rome".

    A Liberation Day parade in Rome, meanwhile, was marred by tension between a group of supporters of the Palestinian cause and representatives of Jewish fighters who were part of the Italian Resistance during World War II. Fabio Perugia, the spokesman of Rome's Jewish Community, said the friction was caused by the presence of the flag of the Jewish Brigade of the Resistance, which features the Star of David. "We had a meeting at 9:15 to march with the flag of the Jewish Brigade, which is similar to the Israeli flag, but not the same," said Perugia. "Suddenly around 50 people with Palestinian flags came out of the Colosseo metro station and started to attack us verbally.

    "If the police had not been there, they would have attacked us physically". Perugia said that the police removed the Palestinian flags.

    Loretta Mussi, a member of a pro-Palestian organisation, said her group had authorization to carry Palestinian flags and said that it was attacked by the Jewish group.

    Representatives of the Jewish Brigade and Palestinian supporters also exchanged insults at an event in Milan.


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