Published On: Sun, Nov 25th, 2018

Italian Protectors of Jews: Righteous of Nations

Now facing pressure from the right, Italy appears much less righteous as does Trump’s America.

Jews in Italy between 1939-1943 / Photo source italyintheholocaust.org

Giovanni Palatucci died in the Dachau Concentration Camp only months before the end of the Second World War and his fiancée, a Jew, survived and she passed away decades later in Israel. This is a story about Italians in Campagna, Abruzzi, Perugia, Lombardy, Calabria, and other places did the most Christian service to others. Ama gli altri como te stesso or Love thy neighbor as thyself.

In 1990 the Yad Yashem honored the great work of Giovanni Palatucci. Under extreme threats, Jews had no concrete walls to protect themselves, but they had great assurance from the Italian people under Mussolini. And people all over Italy met the challenge as they feared for their lives. There was Giovanni Palatucci and his brother Bishop Giuseppe Maria Palatucci of the Catholic Church helping Jews 24-7. The extremism that Jews experienced was the extreme kindness of a people that believed that

Here is an important list of things that Jewish people from Italy and other nations experienced

This was what an Italian internment camp was like

From birth to death, the Italian government supported people with birth certificates, death certificates, and the respect that comes with birth and death

There was a synagogue created for Jews to attend services in San Bartolomeo

Children had school

Jews had the same food rations as Italians had during the war

Men made il matzo for Pesach

Jews were warned if the Nazis came near

People took walks, went to pools, rode bicycles, played musical instruments, soccer, and cards

Proud mothers held their babies in their arms

Jews were granted permission to be buried in “eternal spaces.”

There were Jewish weddings, peaceful weddings, signed by Rabbi Riccardo Pacifico of Genoa, Italy

Jews could visit family members in other areas of Italy as they had documents that protected them

Jews could be sent to a spa in San Pellegrino for their health

Jews walked around streets in fine clothing and sat down and had coffee in the cafes with friends

Men had dogs to play with

There was no forced labor

People had comfortable beds and woolen blankets

In San Bartolomeo, Jewish men and women, the police captain, the rabbi and priest, and others could take a photo together showing man’s humanity

Other places mentioned that protected the Jewish people include Torino, Milano, Perugia, Casale Monferrato, Pozio, Piea, Civitella del Tronto, Vimercate, Tossicia, Basilicata and Potenza.

Everything changed on September 8, 1943 as there was occupation by the Nazis. Everything changed for the immigrants in the United States after January 20, 2017. Trump caused those changes as he kept promises to his base.

I can remember traveling in Europe well into the last century when Italians were being stopped on trains where everyone had to show his or her passport to the authorities and sometimes people were moving quickly on the train as it approached other countries. What was going on was immigration officers were trying to keep Italians out of Switzerland where the Italians were seeking employment.

I just learned that of the 913,497 permanent residents in Switzerland in 1980, 423,008 were from Italy. Over the next thirty-three years, that number and its large percentage have been greatly reduced. Africans have surged to ten times their number over those years and great numbers of people from Central and South America have moved there. Actually I was told that tens of thousands of people lived there by the former consul-general of El Salvador who I worked with closely in the Consulate of El Salvador.

Matteo Salvini is the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior of Italy and he was a leftist who converted to the right-wing claiming that he saw that defending the worker was a stronger value among right-wingers than among leftists. I do not know about the Italian labor economy, but where I live I knew about small businesses that were paying employees two dollars or more per hour below the minimum wage and there were other ways to exploit the workers. A balanced discussion of the matter is needed in addition to educating people about the history of why workers are not paid well enough to live on.

Salvini endorsed Trump in 2016 after meeting Trump in Philadelphia. Trump, talking out of both sides of his mouth on video, said that wages were too low and too high at that time. Trump has not done much for our nation’s workers and instantly froze the wages and hiring of federal employees (which Republicans precipitated). Salvini, like Trump, has brought up ideas about immigration that have been declared unconstitutional by others.

About a decade ago, I visited the staff in the embassies of El Salvador and the Dominican Republic in Paris to provide important information for their people in those countries. And almost two decades ago, I learned from a Vietnamese immigrant there operating a hotel that there was discrimination by the French and I spoke with an African immigrant who did not know that the university was free of charge.

There were other things that the French could have done that would have successfully assimilated more immigrants and I suspect that the same is true in Italy. I have been to Venice and Rome in recent years and to Messina and Naples as well in the south where you can see immigrants trying to make money to send home and to live on. Politicians everywhere do not know what to do!
What do Italians and Americans know about It Happened in Italy by Elizabeth Bettina?

Photo source:  italyintheholocaust.org

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