SEPTEMBER 26, 2019
On May 10, 2019, government officials, historians, journalists, and hundreds of other visitors attended the unveiling ceremony of a commemorative plaque in honor of the thousands of our brothers and sisters who were persecuted by Nazis and Fascists. The ceremony was held at the Risiera di San Sabba in Trieste, northeastern Italy, a former rice mill that became the only Italian concentration camp with a crematorium. The unveiling drew the attention of local and national media outlets, including Canale 5, one of the most watched TV channels in the country.
Christian Di Blasio, a spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses in Italy, opened the ceremony with a discourse highlighting loyalty. He stated: “Jehovah’s Witnesses were the only ones under the Third Reich to be persecuted solely on the basis of their religious convictions. They were also the only ones, as a group, to have the opportunity to avoid martyrdom. They merely had to renounce their Christian faith and support the regime. Yet, they had the courage to stick to Christian values—loyalty to God and love for others.” Brother Di Blasio then shared a video interview of Sister Emma Bauer, who recounted the persecution she and her family suffered during World War II. She explained that true Christians will not relinquish their values even when faced with death. In closing, the mayor of Trieste, Roberto Dipiazza, also addressed the audience. He stated: “I am very pleased with this plaque. We need to work so that such persecutions never happen again.” The plaque was then officially unveiled.
Many scholars and public figures commented on the significance of the event. For instance, Giorgio Bouchard, former president of the Federation of Evangelical Churches in Italy, said: “No church has ever paid a blood tribute proportionately as high as Jehovah’s Witnesses did. . . . This harsh experience, however, has strengthened the movement, which presents itself to the judgment of history and, we believe, to the judgment of God, as the only Christian church that was opposed en masse to the idols of the Third Reich.” (For additional comments, see the box below.)
It is projected that some 120,000 people will visit the Risiera di San Sabba historical site annually. Each visitor will have the opportunity to view this plaque in memory of the thousands of Jehovah’s Witnesses who, despite being victims of Nazi and Fascist persecution, maintained their faith and political neutrality.—Revelation 2:10.