Saturday, June 20, 2009

It happened in Italy - Thomas Nelson books

All I can say about the book It happened in Italy by Elizabeth Bettina is WoW! I'm a WWII buff and this is one of those stories that no one has ever heard of until recently. Jewish concentration (detainment) camps in Italy during WWII and they have been described as a picnic in comparison to German camps.
The books starts off with Jimmy Gentry looking a photos of the camps. He is one of the American soldiers that liberated Dachau. "The first thing I notice about these people is that they're not wearing rags of striped clothes; the clothes these people are wearing are nice, like clothes the men wore back home in Franklin at the time. They're well dressed - jackets, ties. Not what I saw in Dachau, no ma'am. These people are fleshy, not like the walking dead I saw in Dachau. They look well-kept. Nothing like the ones I saw in Germany - with those eyes - people with haunting eyes." And thus starts the story of camps in Italy and the Italians who helped the Jews.
In Italy, most Italians believed Amare gli altri come te stesso - love thy neighbor as thyself. Most Italians hindered the Nazis in Italy and helped the Jews because they saw them as humans just like themselves. Appoxamately 75-80% of the Jewish population in Europe died but compare that to 75-80% of Jews living in Italy, survived the war.
This book documents the stories of 12 survivors but thru it, many more stories have surfaced (see Few people outside the remote areas of Italy where the camps were located, knew such camps existed. In these camps, the Jews were able to worship, have visits from family members who were in other places, wear their own clothes and not have to wear the star of David. The main requirements placed on them was to check in each day at the police station, not leave the village, they couldn't own land, couldn't officially work their profession (ie: doctor). An attempt was made to reunite families living in seperate camps - something unheard of in any German camp!
In 1943, Italy broke rank with Germany and joined the Allies and that is when the true problems for Jews in Italy began. The Jews in German occupied Northern and Central Italy were rounded up and deported to German camps - 1259 in Rome alone. However, the numbers could have been greater but the police who were given the orders to round them up, often ignored those orders, in turn warning the Jews to leave the area to avoid capture.
The stories of the survivors all have a theme in common: if it weren't for the Italians, I wouldn't be alive today! They expressed their gratitude for Italians constantly and many of them were able to return to Italy with Elizabeth to visit the places they once lived. Several were even able to meet with the Pope!
In the book, there are numerous photos of the survivors as they were then and as they are now as well as copies of some of their documentation that has survived the years. There is plenty more I could say but eventually, I would spoil the book for you so I will conclude.
Thomas Nelson book info

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