|YAD VASHEM ADVISES EMSB THAT INVESTIGATION ON GIOVANNI PALATUCCI ALLEGATIONS HAS BEGUN|
MONTREAL, JUNE 26, 2013 – Officials in Jerusalem from Yad Vashem, the world center for Holocaust research, documentation, education and commemoration, have advised the English Montreal School Board that they have launched an extensive investigation related to allegations that Giovanni Palatucci was a Nazi collaborator.
In 2006 the English Montreal School Board dedicated the former Wagar High School building in Côte Saint-Luc after Palatucci, a former Italian wartime police official who was credited with saving 5,000 Jews during the Holocaust. According to research conducted by historians at the Centro Primo Levi at the Center for Jewish History, Palatucci was a relatively low-level officer who worked with the Nazis to help identify Jews who would eventually be shipped to death camps.
“Palatucci was recognized by Yad Vashem as a Righteous Among the Nations in 1990 based on the material then available,” Yad Vashem foreign media liaison Estee Yaari stated in a message sent to the EMSB. “Recently, a group of historians and activists in Italy and abroad have gathered material that they say shows that Palatucci is unworthy of the title and have brought some of this material to Yad Vashem’s attention.”
Ms. Yaari notes that the title of Righteous Among the Nations is bestowed by an independent Commission for the Designation of the Righteous that is made up of Holocaust survivors, historians and researchers and chaired by a retired Supreme Court Justice of the Israeli Supreme Court. Each case is judged based on the material presented to see if it meets the criteria for recognition. There are a number of criteria, but the most basic is that a non-Jewish person took extraordinary risks to try and rescue Jews during the Holocaust. The title can be bestowed whether the person attempted to rescue one person or many.
The EMSB plans to wait for more news from Yad Vashem before taking any action. “We certainly trust their judgment on such a sensitize file,” stated EMSB Chairman Angela Mancini. “We wish to thank the Canadian Society for Yad Vashem and its executive director Yaron Ashkenazi for assisting us in getting this new information.”
EMSB Commissioner Syd Wise, who spearheaded the move to name the building after Palatucci, notes that Yad Vashem is the highest authority in the land related to the Holocaust. “We will wait for them to complete their work,” he said.
The Palatucci Facility currently houses Marymount Adult Education Centre, John Grant High School and the EMSB Book Processing Centre. A new high school, Wallenberg Academy (named after the most famous of righteous gentiles, Raoul Wallenberg), could begin operating in August 2014.
Michael J. Cohen