During the war, Cotignola was a safe haven for Jews and political dissidents.
The village built a solidarity network led by Vittorio Zanzi, Cotignola’s resident and at that time Prefectural Commissioner, and artist Luigi Varoli, whose names are inscribed on a plaque installed in the Garden of the Righteous, at the Yad Vashem Memorial in Jerusalem, together with their respective wives Serafina Bedeschi and Anna Cortesi.
The “Righteous Among the Nations” are all those non-Jews who, at their own peril in opposition to Nazi-Fascist persecution and genocide, saved Jewish lives.
Thanks to the efforts of many Cotignola residents, who jeopardized their lives by offering hospitality and protection, procuring food and clothing and providing false documents, it was possible to save many persecuted people, including some families of Jews.
In 2003, the Ambassador of the State of Israel in Italy, Ehud Gol, conferred the Medal of the “Righteous Among the Nation” to the heirs of Vittorio Zanzi and Luigi Varoli.
In 2006, the President of the Republic, by effect of his own Decree, awarded the Silver Medal for Civil Valor to the Municipality of Cotignola.
This garden is dedicated to the saved and their saviors.
Their names are carved in stone along the walls of a stele, installed in the center of the garden.
Around it, we find a grove with 41 trees, one for each saved Jew, which grows around a Lebanese cedar, typical plant of Jerusalem.
In front of the cedar are six large stones, a Jewish symbol of values handed down from father to son, in memory of the six million victims of the Holocaust.
To this community, to celebrate its courage and generosity in memory of values that have always supported and animated it.