Partisans rise up in effort to block Nazi re-enactment camp in Italy
Italy's anti-immigration party The League has sparked a furore in the town of Cologno Monzese, after its councillors sponsored a re-enactment of Nazi occupation with locals dressed up as SS officers.
The bizarre event, in which families were invited to visit a replica camp near Milan, was condemned by Italy's Democratic Party which said the re-enactment offended the memory of those from the area who were deported to death camps in Nazi Germany.
ANPI, an influential group of former Resistance partisans was also furious, as the re- enactment is due to take place just a few days before Italy's annual Liberation Day on April 25.
The Nazi-themed event is run by a group called the '36 Fuesilier Kompanie' - a reference to the notorious 36th Grenadier Division of the Waffen SS.
They describe the event as aiming to "re-evoke and get to know the life of an infantry unit camp in the weeks before the Liberation of Italy".
Former partisans from ANPI's branch in Cologno Monzese said they "consider very grave the decision by the Cologno Monzese council to organise, in the days leading up to the 73rd anniversary of the Liberation, a German military camp in front of the Villa Casati".
The re-enactment "offends the memory of the citizens of Cologno Monzese who fought for liberty and were deported to Nazi concentration camps," an ANPI spokesman added, urging "the immediate rescinding of this serious and unacceptable decision".
Democratic Party local secretary Pietro Bussolati said it was "intolerable and shameful that the League administration of Cologno Monzese sponsors an initiative re-evoking the Nazi occupation, just a few days before April 25".
However the League mayor of the town, Angelo Rocchi, rejected the criticism.
"We have provided a cultural and informative project for students and families," he said, "the controversy is manipulative.
"These are amateur actors who collect historical dress and also re-construct partisan and Russian military camps and the work of the Red Cross.
"The re-enactment was carried out in towns governed by the Democratic Party and nobody made a fuss."