Tuesday, June 16, 2009

It Happened In Italy

I have had a sort of strange fascination or desire to learn as much as I could about the Holocaust since high school. My English teacher, not my history teacher, prompted this desire for knowledge.  He was a converted German Orthodox Jew. Because of him, I devoured Anne Frank's diary and the story of Corrie ten Boom. I read many Thoene series based on this time period, drug my family to the Holocaust museum in Washington DC, and scoured the library for whatever I could find relating to this.

However, in all my searching, I never once came across anything about the Holocaust in Italy. I never once read anything about their being Jews, let alone Jewish survivors, in Italy. And then I came across Elizabeth Bettina's book It Happened In Italy--untold stories of how the people of Italy defied the horrors of the holocaust.

It began with a picture. A picture of a rabbi standing on the steps of a Catholic church in the Italian village of Campagna. A picture taken during World War II. How was this possible? What was a Jewish rabbi doing in Italy?  This picture began a quest for Elizabeth Bettina and little did she realize how far this quest would take her.

From New York to Italy to the Vatican City, Elizabeth and her friends uncovered numerous intriguing stories and connections that led her across the countryside of Italy discovering just how involved Italy was with the survival of the Jews. At a time, when many European countries were trying to rid the world of what they considered a lower race, many Italians treated the Jewish people--as simply that people. They took them in, hid them, protected them, and placed them in internment camps that were nothing like Auschwitz.  Compared to Auschwitz, the Italian camps were picnics--where people were married, babies were born, and the Sabbath was celebrated.

It Happened In Italy serves as a reminder to all, that while World War II is still one of the darkest periods of history in our world, that there was still good. There were still people who cared. There were still many who chose life over law and Elizabeth Bettina has captured many of their stories--many stories of Jews who survived because of Italians who cared.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 


  1. Beth-
    This is really interesting. If you wanna know something, I've never actually read the "Diary of Anne Frank". I never had to in middle school and my IB teachers didn't make us read it. I've read bits and pieces from articles about it, but not the book.
    Well, Jp and I just watched Valkyrie the other night, and that made me extremely interested in learning more about the Holocaust and Hitler himself, especially since I was never really "taught" about it.
    Also, in Sunday School we were watching the crazy love videos, and started talking about Hitler (strange I know) so I'm intrigued to learn more.
    We had two Jewish Students who went through IB in my grade, and one worked at the Holocaust Museum! So now I wanna go!

    Good blog :)

  2. Beth, I too have always had an insatiable desire to know about the Holocaust. When I was younger I read many books and watched every movie I could about the stores of the people.

    As a young adult, my father shared with me that he was one of the first groups of US soldiers to enter Dachau after the war. It's something he could never shake and would not talk about except to say that he would never get the smell out of his nostrils as long as he lived.

    I think the most painful movie I ever watched was "Sophie's Choice" with Meryl Streep. I believe that her story was played out many times during the war and I just can't imagine going through that.

    I would love to read this and thank you for bringing it to our attention. Missed you this week, but so gla d you had a great time.