Celebrating 25 April in Sant’Anna di Stazzema has a very special meaning. Here in Sant’Anna some of the most dramatic pages in the history of our twentieth century have been written. Here in Sant’Anna we have seen innocent victims fall into the perverse design of a destructive and fratricidal ferocity. Here in Sant’Anna we have experienced firsthand what it means to violate the very essence of humanity. It is really difficult to make sense of the pain of families, of the suffering of an entire community that, 78 years later, continues to live the memory of that tragedy. The Liberation Day shows us that that devastating madness did not succeed in annihilating us. We have managed to recover from the barbarism and the spiral of hatred animated by attachment to human solidarity, by a sense of honor, by a strong desire for rebirth. The experience of the Resistance was decisive, whose historical value goes far beyond the etymological meaning of the term. It was not just a mere opposition to a reality of dictatorship, oppression, prevarication.
Alongside the demolition action, the Resistance was also a movement of affirmation of a new dimension of national belonging. The spontaneous movement of a composite people, which, in the pluralism of political, cultural and religious visions, fought for liberation and together to affirm perspectives of freedom, justice, democracy, equality and solidarity. This is the most authentic and profound meaning of the resistance that I was lucky enough to know firsthand from the words of my father, an official of the State Police who, sentenced to death as an opponent of Nazi-fascist totalitarianism, was released on April 25, 1945 ” . Casellati says: «My father always taught me that opposing the regime was the only way to honor fidelity to freedom as a fundamental individual aspiration and at the same time as the premise and ultimate goal of any society. The relationship with these values explains why April 25 is also the date on which the germ of republican Italy was sown. A free Italy. An Italy founded on law and rights. An Italy that rejects war and recognizes the internationalist principle as a method for ensuring peace and justice among nations.
Today more than ever the experience of liberation is alive and current. An experience deeply engraved in our DNA, but at the same time intimately oriented towards the future. The framework of aspirations, values and ideals sown in the long months of resistance and then wisely sewn into the fabric of the Constitution is in fact at the origin of the European project which has made it possible to realize a plan of peace, justice and well-being on a supranational scale. This is the most precious heritage that has been entrusted to us by history and that we must continue to cultivate with great love and dedication, especially in the interest of the younger generations.
77 years of peace and democracy in Europe have accustomed us to living freedom as if it were an acquired fact, an unchangeable state of affairs. The concept of freedom has now entered to such an extent in our way of living and thinking that we tend to take it for granted. Yet, if we open our eyes to the many areas of global crisis we see that freedom is a legacy to be preserved and cultivated even in the contemporary world. I am thinking first of all of the dramatic experience of the health emergency, which taught us how freedom today has much more unpredictable and insidious enemies than in the past. Enemies who, in a few weeks, have managed to upset a long process of affirming rights, demonstrating how even basic freedoms can suddenly give way to the demands of security.
In the heart of Europe
Then I think of the war, which is a reality in many regions of the world and which has now forcefully returned to the heart of Europe in the terrible clash between Russia and Ukraine. And on this April 25th we found ourselves facing a truly unexpected, cruel conflict, which spares no one, which has no mercy on women and children. We all have their cry of pain in our hearts. It seems to see the hands of the clock turn back with respect to that path of international cooperation started after World War II ». A path which, «with the fall of the Berlin wall, finally seemed to have led to a new geopolitical equilibrium oriented towards multilateralism, aimed at promoting a global governance of security and development.
The history of the twentieth century as well as that of the twenty-first century show that out of that equilibrium all the values of civilization so painstakingly conquered risk being denied. And so today we need to fight also at the international level so that the perspectives of dialogue and multilateralism can always prevail. Because there is no alternative to freedom. There is no alternative to democracy. There is no alternative to brotherhood and solidarity with respect to the global trials of contemporaneity. Only by remaining faithful custodians of these values will we be able to build a future of hope and prosperity. This is the great message that the National Park of Peace entrusts to each of us and I hope that the inspiring force of April 25 will help us to overcome every physical and cultural barrier to affirm, today more than ever, liberation from all wars.