Thursday, July 23, 2009

Did You Know That There Were Jews in Italy During WWII?

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Apparently, other than the Jews themselves and Italians who put their lives on the line, no one knew. And many Italians put their lives on the line. During WWII, Italy was the only country that allowed people to enter the country without Visas so many of the European Jews who saw what Hitler and the Nazis were up to fled to Italy. There they were interned in cities or camps but, in their own words, were treated with dignity and respect. The Italians saw them as "christians like" themselves or rather humans. So in an effort to thwart the Nazi's final solution the Italians protected the Jews who came there.

Elizabeth Bettina has connections to the Italian city of Campagna and spent many summers there as a child with her grandmother. No one at the time spoke of the interned Jews. As an adult she was given a dissertation about the Jews in Italy which sparked her interest. Then through a series of events she met Jewish people who were themselves interned in Italy or had connections via a spouse or parents who were interned there.

Elizabeth weaves her personal search for answers which leads to the trips with Holocaust survivors to Italy and a personal meeting with Pope Benedict, into this easy to read story. There are pictures and lists of those interned as well as letters to support the history. This story needs to be told just as much as the story from Germany. Good did happen in the midst of evil. It is estimated that 32,000 Jews were saved in Italy during the WWII. Think of the generations that followed. At the end of the book there is an e-mail for anyone who has personal knowledge of someone who was interned in Italy to contact the author. This story will continue to be told thanks to the hard work of this author and the many people she has met on her journey.

1 comment:

JoAnn in NJ said...

In Rome by the Coloseum (sp?) is an urban part of the city they call the Jewish Ghetto.