The 27th of January marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day and for this day we have held a chat with Beatrice Papei Allori.
Beatrice was awarded the title of “Alfiere della Repubblica” by President Mattarella in February 2023 for her activism on the horrors of the Holocaust and Second World War, in order not to let these issues be forgotten, especially by young people.
C: Why did you decide to speak out on this issue that is not very common among young people?
B: I started talking about Shoah, WWII, and Resistance casually, because I was victim of cyberbullying 6 years ago and I wasn’t still passionate about these topics. I decided to read Anne Frank’s Diary which really touched me the summer of that same year. From that moment on, I realized that there have been some who have been worse than myself. Even if I felt so bad during the cyberbullying period I also felt like I had to continue the memory of these people who were exterminated.
C: What do people say about your willingness to discuss these issues? How did they react?
B: You know everyone called me crazy! They didn’t react badly, but sometimes they ask “Why couldn’t you have been interested in more normal things?” “Why exactly the Shoah?”
C: How did you start speaking out about it?
B: I started talking to my classmates, teachers, and parents. I gave them a hard time! They discovered many new things because I was the one to educate them on WWII. Then, I started amplifying my audience by opening a blog and through an Instagram page. I’m currently using TikTok, because I feel it is more immediate and reaches more people.
C: Have you ever received criticism on social media for speaking out about these such uncommon issues by pro-fascist people who exalt the dictatorships?
B: Fortunately, it happened just once about 2 years ago. A friend of someone I knew wrote me privately after an Instagram story stating that Jewish people suck and what I fight for doesn’t make any sense etc.
I don’t quite remember my response, but I tried to reason with him. Finally, I blocked him.
I was afraid of this conversation, as I experienced cyberbullying, so I preferred to end the conversation.
C: What have you discovered about Shoah that is not told in school history books?
B: I have found out many things. I found out about slaughters that are not well-known. In some school textbooks, it is mentioned the “Sant’Anna di Stazzema massacre” and the “Sweep of the Ghetto in Rome” on the 16th of October 1943.
I didn’t know about these events and the school textbooks only dedicated merely 1 page to them.
Therefore, I started documenting different less-known massacres like the “Logoreccio slaughter” thanks to my grandmother, whose cousin was a partisan who died there.
Only 20 people died, so it didn’t make history like the big ones.
C: Do you think there’ll be more young people like you, who are going to continue to testify the horrors of the Shoah in the future?
B: Unfortunately, I agree with the words of Liliana Segre, an Auschwitz survivor, when she said that “Shoah is destined to become a line on history books” because even now that some survivors are still alive, I perceive great apathy from people. When witnesses are not going to be alive anymore, it will become something like the French Revolution, or the Middle Ages.
It Is perceived as something so far in our past, even if WWII broke out only 84 years ago.
We still think that it won’t happen in our future anymore, despite of all the wars going on nowadays in Europe.
I even know people who have no idea about the existence of a Second World War.
C: Thank you so much for this conversation. Are you proud of what you have achieved and the fact that your efforts were recognized by the Italian head of state? How do you remember that 24th of February 2024?
B: It was the day, I felt proud of myself, because I said to myself: “Beatrice, you made it! I’m proud of you!” It was a satisfaction because even if many people didn’t believe in me, I’ve made it anyway. I have been able to shake the Head of State’s hand, that is something that doesn’t happen every day.
C: Thank you so much for being here with me today and see you soon! I wish you the best for your Maturità.
B: Thanks a lot for having me! I wish you too the best for your university!