A Holocaust survivor presides over the start of the right-wing Italian parliament

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A Holocaust survivor presided over the opening of Italy’s new Parliament on Thursday, recalling the dangers of fascism, as the most right-wing coalition since World War Two took control of both the upper and lower chambers.

Liliana Segre was the only member of her Jewish family to survive the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz and reminded parliamentarians of the upcoming centenary of the March on Rome that brought fascist leader Benito Mussolini to power.

The conservative bloc set to take power is led by the nationalist Brothers of Italy party, which has its roots in a post-fascist group created by supporters of Mussolini.

“It is impossible for me not to feel a kind of vertigo when remembering that the same girl who, on a day like today in 1938, heartbroken and lost, was forced by racist laws to leave her elementary school desk empty, is now, by a strange twist of fate, in the most prestigious seat in the Senate,” Segre said.

With the honor of being a senator for life, the 92-year-old is the oldest active member of the chamber, meaning she started proceedings.

The Senate’s first task will be to elect a president, who seems certain to be Ignazio La Russa, a senior member of the Brothers of Italy, who won 26% of the vote in the September 25 elections, making him the most popular party in Italy.

A video of La Russa at home, published in 2018 on the Corriere della Sera website, showed that he collected Mussolini memorabilia.

Mussolini ruled Italy for more than two decades, allying it with Nazi Germany and enacting anti-Semitic laws that ultimately led to the death of nearly 6,000 Italian Jews in camps.

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The leader of the Brothers of Italy, Giorgia Meloni, who is about to become Italy’s first woman prime minister, has distanced herself from the far right, saying her party is a majority conservative force, like the United States Republican Party.

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