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A shocking Shoah lesson

Pupils given taste of Mussolini's laws

    Mussolini and Hitler
    Mussolini and Hitler AP

    Students at an Italian secondary school were stunned when they were told that according to a new directive, pupils with at least one non-Italian parent had to study in separate classrooms.

    While the immigrant students appeared to accept their fate meekly, pandemonium ensued among their classmates. Some called the school head to complain, some joined their friends in the segregated classroom, others physically stopped them from leaving.

    Protest demonstrations were being planned and parents were about to be contacted when the teachers revealed that the directive was not for real.

    It had all been a social experiment thought up by Carolina Vergerio, a teacher at the Sandro Pertini secondary school in Vercelli, to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day. The idea was to give the children a feel of what happened to their Jewish counterparts when Benito Mussolini’s infamous antisemitic laws were implemented in 1938.

    The immigrant children, who had been told about the plan in advance, were overwhelmed by their classmates’ response.

    The school principal, Ferdinanda Chiarello, was delighted: “Of course we expected a reaction but not like we had. Perhaps if there had been this type of reaction years ago, things would have taken a different turn.”

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