May 22, 2012

It Happened in Italy

This was a very different kind of book then most you may read about the Holocaust.

It's a memoir of a woman who decided to look into the past of World War II after seeing pictures of concentration camps in Italy. Pictures very different then the ones we see from German camps. Here she discovered facts about these concentration camps that held Jews during World War II in villages throughout Italy. She was shocked to find out no Jews were ever killed in these camps and were treated well due to the care of the Italians. Shocking because... "Italy and Mussolini were allied with Hitler for most of the war" Also many Jews were hidden by villagers or within  law enforcement. Many Italians risked their own lives to hide and change the identity of many Jews.

A friend said to her, "Tell this story. It is a story of goodness amidst evil. You must tell this story. If you don't, who will?"

An Italian concentration camp. Notice the mattresses and blankets, things you would not likely find in German Nazi camps.

Elizabeth Bettina takes a journey into this time period and finds and meets many Jews who survived because of these courageous men and women of Italy. Many who went on to have children and grandchildren who would not be here without their efforts. She says here of those she was able to meet and tell their story, "There are 52 survivors in this book who had 54 children, 78 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren - 194 people total." These were the survivors she met personally, there were so many more.

Because there is no record of any Jews being killed in Italian camps, these survivors stories may never have been told without the research and dedication of Elizabeth Bettina. One particular story stood out to me. It was of a young girl who's mother passed away and after the war had started, her father decided to go to France to find safety for him and his daughter. While in France he was caught by the Nazi's and taken and killed at Auschwitz. This little girl would have been let alone or taken by the Germans if it weren't for an Italian family who took her in as their own.

If you are looking for a book on the horrors of the Holocaust you won't find it here. This is a book filled with people we defied Hitler and his final solution and lent a helping hand to their fellow man.

Throughout the book, Elizabeth Bettina talks a lot of the Roman church, the Vatican and the Pope. I personally couldn't relate to her excitement on these matters because I'm not Catholic, but I really did enjoy her memoir, and appreciated all her research and work she put into telling these stories. I would highly recommend it.


  1. Thank you for sharing this, Cathy. I wasn't aware of Italian concentration camps.

    I'm glad you enjoyed the book and would recommend it.

  2. Sounds like a very interesting book, thanks for sharing. Adding it to my to read list!


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