Italy's Prime Minister Mario Monti
Italy's Prime Minister Mario Monti Reuters

Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Monti addressed a ceremony on Tuesday night commemorating the 69th anniversary of the World War II round-up and deportation of over a thousand Roman Jews to Auschwitz.

The occasion marked the first time an Italian premier attended the annual event.

Monti said that remembering the past is “the way to preserve our history and to draw lessons for the present and, above all, for the future,”

"One cannot help but connect what happened with the round-up in the ghetto with the ignoble racial laws instituted [by Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini in Italy] in 1938," he said.

Several thousand people, including government officials and other dignitaries, gathered outside Rome’s Great Synagogue, to mark the somber anniversary.

Participants lined up behind a black banner saying "There is no future without memory."

While Monti recognized that anti-Semitism remains a grave threat, he reassured the Jewish community saying, "I will not leave you alone in the face of any form of denial, belittling or revisionism of the Holocaust.”

Nearly 8,000 Italian Jews perished in the Holocaust.