27 January, the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp, is the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust.

Every year the municipality of Venice organizes commemoration and remembrance events. The Council of Europe’s Venice Office takes part in Holocaust Remembrance Day by arranging book presentations, screenings, concerts, photographic exhibitions and participating in the municipality’s initiatives.

In 2016, 2017 and 2018 the Venice Office participated to the laying ceremony of the “stumbling stones”, cobblestone-size concrete cubes bearing a brass plaque inscribed with the name and life dates of victims of the Holocaust. The “Stolpersteine”, an initiative by the German artist Gunter Deming, are installed in front of the last place of residency of victims before deportation. With a total of 73 stones, the city of Venice counts the third highest number of Stolpersteine in Italy.

In 2018 the Venice office organised and took part in a number of initiatives among which the presentation of a documentary in memory of the fallen soldiers of the Italian Acqui division who were exterminated by Nazi troops in September 1943 and the production of a stage reading of the opera Chronos Paràdoksos that narrates the birth of present-day Europe from the destruction of World War II and the Shoah. The Office participated to the event “Sport and Shoah: Propaganda, removal, persecution”, held at the Jewish Museum of Venice and organized in cooperation with the Jewish Community of Venice.

Continuing cooperation with Ca’ Foscari University, the Office arranged a workshop on Auschwitz during which the book “From places to men: the importance of remembering” was presented by Aldo Navoni and Federica Pozzi. On this occasion, the Office inaugurated an exhibition of  photos taken from the book “At the end of the rail: Auschwitz” published by the same authors.

The Council of Europe is committed to the protection of Roma rights and to the integration of Roma people. A dedicated transversal team led by the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Roma issues was created in 2011. The projects undertaken by the Council of Europe range from developing a network of mediators to campaigning against discrimination and educating about Roma genocide.

As a contribution to the work of the organization in this area, the Venice Office organizes remembrance events centred around the common theme of Porrajmos, a Romani word that refers to the planned and attempted effort to exterminate Roma people during World War II. 

The activities are the result of the collaboration with the Roma Kalderash Association which fights against negative stereotypes and discrimination and promotes projects of integration. In 2013 the Venice Office co-organized a photographic exhibition on Porrajmos, took part in the screening of films “A People on the Verge of History” and was presented with the Roma flag by the Kalderash Association.

In 2014 the Venice Office participated in the commemoration of Porrajmos that took place at the Temple for the unknown victims of the Holocaust in Padova, the only monument in Italy dedicated to the genocide of Roma, where the President of the Roma Kalderash Association laid a wreath.

In 2015 the Venice Office activities focused on disseminating information about the actions relating to Roma issues promoted by the Council of Europe. The Roma flag flew by the Venice flag outside the town hall: the event was sponsored by the Venice Office.

In 2016 the office co-organized a Balkan Roma music concert and the screening of films “The Roma people”. It accompanied the Roma Kalderash Association to the seat of the Venice Municipality where the Roma flag was presented to the President of the city council.

The presentation of the book “The Roma people, these strangers” was the focus of a conference organized for Holocaust Remembrance Day 2017 at Ca’ Foscari University.

In 2018  the President of the Roma Kalderash Association spoke of the extermination of Roma people in Nazi concentration camps at a workshop on Auschwitz organised by the Office at Ca’ Foscari University.