Truffle of the Year to Senator Liliana Segre

It was Liliana Segre, senator for life, who received the 2019 Truffle of the City of Alba, on the 70th anniversary of the Gold Medal awarded to the capital of the Langhe as a city symbol of the Resistance.

“On an anniversary that reminds us of our history, I am happy that the mayor of Alba Carlo Bo and the president of the Fair Liliana Allena have supported my idea that Liliana Segre should receive the award this year”, explains the president of the Piedmont Region, Alberto Cirio -. It is not the first time that the Alba White Truffle, with its great media power, has become a speaker on important and difficult issues. The truffle is part of the DNA of our land, as is the Resistance movement which countless people died for in our hills. Seventy years after this land received the Gold Medal, we feel there could be no better person to welcome a gesture that we hope will contribute to remembrance. Because, if the past is meant to teach us a lesson, it is essential that we do not forget”.

In the city that on 13th November 1949 was decorated by the President of the Republic Luigi Einaudi with the Gold Medal for Military Valour for its key role in the Resistance, Senator Segre’s example is an opportunity to keep alive the memory of the tragedy of the past, but above all to fight prejudice and indifference to the current tragedies, always with the will to engage in an open dialogue with the other components of society, based on the principles of freedom, democracy and respect for people.

«Liliana Segre’s example is extraordinary, with her tireless, I would say almost unbelievable, will to publicly promote the love for life, whatever form this life may take, alongside the courage of peaceful ideas and the condemnation of indifference. The Alba White Truffle Fair proudly presents its most prestigious award to join the chorus of those in our country who stand by her and oppose all forms of hatred», states Liliana Allena, president of the International Alba White Truffe Fair.»

«After returning from the concentration camps, Liliana Segre had to face the innermost feelings of loneliness experienced by survivors for years. The strength she found within allowed her to spend the second part of her life keeping the memory of a tragic past alive and raising awareness against indifference Senator for life since 2018, she has tirelessly defended the core principles of the Constitution. The city of Alba, a gold medal winner for military valour, in stigmatising all forms of hatred, wishes to recognise the determination with which Liliana Segre has always opposed hatred with dialogue and empathy» says Carlo Bo, Mayor of the City of Alba.

Liliana Segre

Born in Milan from a Jewish family, she lived with her father, Alberto Segre, and her paternal grandparents. Her mother died when Liliana was not even one year old. From a secular family, Liliana became aware of her Jewishness through the drama of the fascist racial laws of 1938, as a result of which she was expelled from the school she attended. When the persecution of Italian Jews escalated, her father hid her with friends, using false documents. On 10 December 1943, she tried, together with her father and two cousins, to flee to Lugano, Switzerland: however, the four of them were rejected by the Swiss authorities.The next day, Liliana Segre was arrested in Selvetta di Viggiù, in the province of Varese, aged thirteen. After six days in prison in Varese, she was transferred to Como and then to San Vittore in Milan, where she was detained for forty days.

On 30th January 1944, she was deported from the Milan Central Station’s platform 21 to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, which she reached after a seven-day journey. She was immediately separated from her father, whom she never saw again and who would die the following 27 April. On 18 May 1944, her paternal grandparents were also arrested in Inverigo (province of Como); a few weeks later they too were deported to Auschwitz and killed on their arrival on 30 June 1944. At selection, Liliana was given serial number 75190, which was tattooed on her forearm. She was put to hard labour for about a year at the Union munitions factory, which belonged to Siemens. During her imprisonment she underwent three more selections. At the end of January 1945, after the evacuation of the camp, she faced the death march to Germany. She was liberated by the US Armed Forces on 1 May 1945 from the Malchow camp, a sub-camp of the Ravensbrück concentration camp, which was also liberated at the same time by the Red Army. Of the 776 Italian children under the age of 14 who were deported to Auschwitz, Liliana was one of the 25 survivors.

For a long time, she never wanted to speak publicly about her experience in the death camps. As for many children of the Holocaust, returning home and back to a “normal” life was far from easy. Liliana Segre also remembers that in those years she did not find ears willing to listen to her: “It was very difficult for my relatives to live with a wounded animal like I was: a little girl back from hell, who was expected to be docile and resigned. I soon learned to keep my tragic memories and deep sadness to myself. No one understood me, it was me who had to adapt to a world that wanted to forget about the painful events that had just passed, and wanted to start afresh, yearning for fun and light-heartedness”.

Since 1990, her testimony of Nazi persecution has become tireless and, after an important series of recognitions throughout the country, on 19 January 2018, the year in which the 80th anniversary of the Fascist racial laws fell, Sergio Mattarella, President of the Republic, appointed Liliana Segre a senator for life on the basis of Article 59 of the Constitution, “for having served the Nation with high merits in the social field”. She is the fourth woman to hold this office, after Camilla Ravera (1982), Rita Levi-Montalcini (2001) and Elena Cattaneo (2013).