Sunday, June 28, 2009

"It Happened In Italy" by Elizabeth Bettina



"It Happened In Italy" by Elizabeth Bettina

In Poland, 90% of the Jewish population died, yet only 20% of Italian Jewry died. Why ?

At a chance meeting, the author was given a copy of a doctoral thesis containing photos of Jews in her ancestral village. This was the start of an amazing trail of serendipitous meetings, phone calls, letters and emails.
She built up a picture of Italian internment camps, where the inmates were mostly treated well, with adequate food, shelter, clothing, a prayer room and the requisites with which they could celebrate Jewish festivals.

Under German occupation, some Jews were indeed rounded up and sent to the concentration camps, but many Italian officials helped Jewish families to escape and hide, helped by local clergy and villagers.

The author was able to make several trips to Italy with some survivors of the camps. They met local and government officials, Cardinals and even the Pope, in order to retell their stories.

I found this to be an inspiring story of the compassion, humanity and decency of the many Italian people who did what they believed to be right and protected Jewish people in their area, even though it might have put their own lives and families at risk. The book is maybe a little too long, and some overlap with the accounts could have been edited more carefully to make the story flow better in terms of making it more readable, but I enjoyed it very much.

I review for Thomas Nelson Book Review Bloggers
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2 comments:

elizabeth said...

sounds really intresting; always nice when one reads stories of compassion in very difficult times and situtations.

DebD said...

this does sound like an interesting book.