Track 21, Central Train Station, Milan.
Chilly winter morning, January 30, 1944.
600 Italian Jewish men, women and children packed into train wagons.
There are so many sites and pages dedicated to the Holocaust (or denying the Holocaust), and it is not always easy to discern the underlying motives of the authors. I tried to find a widely respected, authoritative and disinterested source for basic information: the Britannica encyclopedia, http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/269548/Holocaust.
Reliable chronologies help to frame events in context.
Italy's racial laws were passed on the 5th of September 1938, but exportations took place only after the first fall and return to power, heavily assisted by (some say a puppet of) the Nazis, of Mussolini. The German occupation of Italy and the Republic of Salò dates to September 1943.
On January 30, 1944, six hundred Italian Jewish men, women and children were taken to track 21. They arrived in Auschwitz Birkenau on the 6th of February.
Within a few hours, 500 of them already were gassed and burned.
A memorial dedicated to the victims has been begun on track 21 (binario 21) in Milan's Stazione Centrale, though the progress creeps along as funding permits. The website dedicated to the project has a chronology of the events in Italian. [The single page in English has unforgivable errors...why, oh why, do companies and associations resist using capable native speaker translators? Translating a couple of pages, at least for an overview (which needs to be written with the foreign reader in mind, and not be "merely" a translation of the Italian text) will cost no more than about a hundred bucks. A word to the wise is sufficient.]
The panoramic chronology on "Historyplace.com" tends to ignore Italy, but does present a German-centered framework: http://www.historyplace.com/worldwar2/holocaust/timeline.html. (As you can see for yourself on the page dedicated to the site's authors, the site was born out of the study of letters to and from an American airman flying missions over Germany. While it's true that the principal authors were closely related to the family in question, it's also true that they are historians with college degrees, and were assisted by another historian. Nevertheless, it's always good to keep your thinking cap on.)
Why this message on this site, and why today?
This site is dedicated to Milan, a city I love, and though I tend to present its positive aspects (there already are enough complainers around us and on the web), today is a day for remembering.
To not forget.
To not repeat.