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PREDAPPIO, Italy — The mayor of the town that gave birth to Italian dictator Benito Mussolini has ignited a national row by refusing to participate in a program that pays for students to visit Nazi concentration camps.

On Friday, Predappio's mayor, Roberto Canali, said he was not going to spend any of his town's money to pay for two students to visit Auschwitz and Birkenau. Thousands of Italian students make the trips annually, paid for in part by city and town funds.

His move sparked a widespread backlash, especially among Italy's left. Rome's mayor, Virginia Raggi, even invited the two students to join other students going from Rome. Left-wing politicians volunteered to pay the students' way.

Mussolini was born in Predappio in the Emilia-Romagna region where his body is interred. Every year, thousands of Mussolini's admirers visit his tomb.

Two students asked the town for funds as part of a program known as the Remembrance Train in which Italian students travel to the Nazi concentration camps in Poland.

Canali said the trips only tell one part of history and that students should also be exposed to atrocities committed by communists, according to ANSA, an Italian news agency.

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