Published by: Thomas Nelson (April 2009)
Pages: 380 (Hardback)
My Rating: 8/10
IT HAPPENED IN ITALY: UNTOLD STORIES OF HOW THE PEOPLE OF ITALY DEFIED THE HORRORS OF THE HOLOCAUST BY ELIZABETH BETTINA
"I always told Fred that he had a picnic in Italy. I said to him, 'You complained that sometimes you had too much soup, while I was lucky to get a few spoons of some dirty water,' " recalled Edith Moskovitch Birns. Edith is a survivor of Auschwitz, while the man who would become her husband, Alfred (Fred) Birns, survived the Holocaust in Italy.
For me, these opening lines sum up the theme of this amazing and almost unheard of story. Compared to the millions of Jews who perished in the Concentration Camps in Germany and Poland, many more thousands would live a life of luxury (almost) in Italy in Internment Camps.
Elizabeth Bettina's life was changed when she was give a book by a relative when she visited Italy a few years ago. In it was a picture of a rabbi standing next to various people, including a bishop, on the steps of the Catholic Church in the small Italian village called Campagna where her grandparents were married. The year was 1940. Elizabeth, who had no idea that any Jews were in her village during the War, resolved to find out what happened and this book is what she discovered.
It is made up of peoples stories of their lives in the Camps, how they got there, how they lived, some even got married there! The book contains so many fascinating pictures - they do say that pictures speak a thousand words! It tells the story of how they were helped by Italian people who risked their lives to keep them from the hands of the Nazis.
Somehow she even arranged for some of the survivors to re-visit the small towns where they were interred all those years ago, which was lovely to read.
Though it was incredibly interesting reading about something that was so little known, I just wish the author didn't keep repeating how wonderful the Italian people were, I'm afraid it got quite annoying reading it for the umpteenth time.
Having said that I think this is definitely recommended reading for anyone interested in the Holocaust and the role of Italians in WWII.
Special Thanks to Thoma Nelson Publishers for sending me this book to review