“Not forgetting the past is the premise for a better future,” were the words used by Stefano Beltrame, the Italian Consul General in Shanghai, to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust at the celebration of the International Remembrance Day in Shanghai. He also mentioned the important role Shanghai played as the last port to remain open during World War II, when more than 20,000 Jews sought refuge in the local Hongkou district between 1937 and 1941. Representatives of the Hongkou authorities attended the ceremony, along with representatives from the principal Jewish study centres, including the prestigious Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.
Reference was also made to this year’s 500th anniversary of the Venice ghetto, which will be celebrated in Shanghai with a conference entitled "The First and Last Ghetto: Venice and Shanghai" on Feb. 25 at the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum in Hongkou district. Referring to this, Mr Beltrame explained: "The word 'ghetto' originated in Venice, where there is a district bearing the same name. Before it became the part of the city reserved for the Jews, it was an iron foundry. The name of the district comes from the Venetian 'geto', meaning jet of molten metal, pronounced 'ghetto' [with a hard 'g'] by the local Ashkenazi Jews of German origin.”