Dimitar Peshev

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Nando Dalla Chiesa
Member of the Italian Parliament
at the solemn celebration of Dimitar Peshev
Sofia, November 6th 1998

Distinguished president, distinguished deputies, distinguished ladies and gentlemen!

I got to know the personality of Dimitar Peshev through Gabriele Nissim's book. Even though I have been studying history and the events of the past, I simply had not had the chance to acquaint myself with Dimitar Peshev prior to reading the book dedicated to him. This is a book coming from the depths of history. lt draws on the memory which had more or less started to subside, thus providing us an opportunity of learning even more about ourselves. lt will be 65 years soon since the enactment of the racial laws in Italy. These were laws adopted by the Italian people, who were convinced back then that they would never have to wltness their own degeneration and who believed that evil in the form of genocide would never actualise. Those laws constituted just a small compromise with the nation's own conscience, a trifling compromise which was agreed on to the end that peace be ensured and that the nation's moral disagreement with the genocide be silenced rather than being shouted out.

Italian history abounds in excuses and explanations for this collective act of resignation committed by the millions of Italians who obeyed the racial laws - at the universities, at schools, in the public administration.

I believe that Dimitar Peshev's deed is a real slap in the face of all those excuses. I believe that Dimitar Peshev's deed is an evidence that people are in a position to oppose and put up determined resistance to what may be presented as great trends, the great directions of history, etc., an evidence that there is no such fate which could oppress people and nations like an irresistible wind. Dimitar Peshev provided the evidence that moral dignity, intellectual integrity, bravery, courage, Iove for men are in a position to change such wind from being irresistible, are in a position to put up opposition to the great historical trends. Alas, what happened in Bulgaria did not occur in Italy!

Italy did have its moral values, high enough to disallow genocide. However, silence has been always justified with the findings of history researchers asserting that it might have been even worse had there been protests and disapproval. But what could be worse than a genocide? What could be more terrifying than a genocide? And here is where the actual value of Dimitar Peshev's feat belongs, because it helps us realise how history actually operates, what is its real essence, it helps us apprehend the genuine values and the real semblance of men. This is the actual prominence of Dimitar Peshev. And I would like to elaborate here not only on the greatness making history, since it is not a truly great deed making history alone, a real great deed is to accept the past as well.

I was deeply fascinated by the dignity whereby Dimitar Peshev, having made history by doing good, accepted the suffering and the humiliation, the isolation, the fabricated accusations. His dignity was trodden down in front of those he had previously governed. But the more his dignity was trodden, the more his personality was elevated.

There is no justification for the deeds of those in power. There exists dignity, which could be estimated as illustrious by those who adjudge the collapse of the regimes. Because it is only after the collapse of a regime that the dignity of men is estimated.

So, this is dual eminence - making history, on the one hand, and accepting that same history, on the other. And this is really an example for all Italians and Europeans. I would like to point out here that where a nation cherishes the heroes of its past, although such heroes do emanate more bravery that the ordinary people making up a nation, those heroes, after all, do represent to the highest possible extent the sentiments of their nation. A hero borrows from his nation, while the nation in its subsequent existence draws on the hero.

This is why if Dimitar Peshev used to personify all Bulgarians, I do believe that now Dimitar Peshev lives in the memory of all Bulgarians. This is the interrelation between heroes and nations, between a hero and his people's past.

Other speeches at the celebration:
• Yordan Sokolov (introduction)
• Ivan Kurtev
• Alexander Bozhkov (reading a message from Ivan Kostov)
• Ivan Kurtev (reading letters from Colombo and Yasharov)
• Gabriele Nissim
• Yossif Kioso
• Dario Rivolta
• Pierluigi Petrini
• Dan Tikhon
• Yordan Sokolov (conclusion)

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