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It Happened in Italy: Untold Stories of How the People of Italy Defied the Horrors of the Holocaust [Hardcover]

By Elizabeth Bettina (Author)
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Item description for It Happened in Italy: Untold Stories of How the People of Italy Defied the Horrors of the Holocaust by Elizabeth Bettina...

Describes how Giovanni Palatucci, as well as countless other Italians, helped protect Jews during the Holocaust by hiding them in internment camps, focusing on the town of Campagna and the Jewish and Gentile survivors from that town.

Publishers Description

IMAGINE ELIZABETH BETTINA'S SURPRISE when she discovered that her grandmother's village had a secret: over a half century ago, many of Campagna's residents defied the Nazis and risked their lives to shelter and save "hundreds" of Jews during the Holocaust. What followed her discovery became an adventure as she uncovered fascinating untold stories of Jews in Italy during World War II and the many Italians who risked everything to save them.


"Finally, somebody made known the courage and the empathy of the majority of the Italian people toward us Jews at a time of great danger." --Nino Asocoli

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Thomas Nelson
Pages   380
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8" Width: 5.5" Height: 1.3"
Weight:   1.25 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Apr 21, 2009
Publisher   Thomas Nelson
ISBN  1595551026  
ISBN13  9781595551023  

Availability  0 units.

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Books > General Interest > General Topic > History
Books > Education (K-12) > Social Science > History

Reviews - What do customers think about It Happened In Italy?

Boring  Mar 29, 2010
This was not a book that lived up to its expectations............boring.

Ernie Wiles
Miracles still happen in Italy  Mar 8, 2010

I liked the book and even though Elizabeth is not a seasoned writer her determination and skill of research paid off. It is a story that is completely unknown in Italy and I hope that this book will bring to the general public the events narrated. What the Italian people did is a miracle in itself, but the organizing of the meetings of the Jewish people who were 'guests' of these Italian people with the religious and civil authorities is a second miracle. Something like David and Goliath - total concentration and determination bring results. Something like Three Cups of tea. The impossible can be done.
Mediocre Book, Great Story  Jan 15, 2010
Imagine: You are suddenly torn away from your home and possessions and are removed with others of your kind to a place where you must check in daily with the police and obey a strict curfew. You can't leave, practice your profession, carry anything that might be used as a weapon, visit a bar, or attend any meeting or any form of entertainment. You are imprisoned there for years, and yet for the rest of your life you will be passionately grateful to your captors and will remember your incarceration as pleasant. You are a Jew during World War II, sent to a concentration Italy.

Elizabeth Bettina, a third-generation Italian Catholic from New York City couldn't get over the picture: Taken in the 1940's of a gathering on the steps of the church where her grandparents were married, in the tiny, Catholic town of Campagna, the snapshot clearly included a priest, a police officer, and a rabbi. A rabbi? Bettina's research into the unmentioned history of her grandmother's hometown reveals a surprising tale of ordinary goodness in a time of extraordinary evil.

The writing and style of this book are only mediocre, but the story itself is compelling and well worth reading. Italy was Hitler's ally in World War II, and Mussolini enacted laws against Jews that would have been terrible in a better time and place. Yet Bettina uncovers a bright candle in the darkness of the Holocaust, told mostly through stories of people who survived only because they lived in Italy, protected by exceptional heroes like Giovanni Patalucci ("The Italian Schindler," a police official who saved thousands of Jewish lives before being discovered and sent to Dachau, where he died); by ordinary townsfolk who endangered themselves and their families with their stubborn resistance to the idea that Jews were anything other than "people like us"; and yes, even by the maddeningly inefficient Italian approach to life and government, which enabled official orders concerning the Jews to be tossed in a drawer and "lost."

Bettina also deserves credit for her tireless efforts to find these survivors, document their stories, and in many cases facilitate highly emotional and deeply meaningful reunions. The story of her quest is interesting in itself, although it dominates the book more than I would like, often overshadowing the greater story.

Disclaimer: I was provided a review copy of this book from the publisher.
In and Around.  Jan 5, 2010
The book "It Happened In Italy" presents us with a wonderful and untold WWII story: the story of the Jews who survived, and actually didn't have that bad of a time, thanks to Italian Catholics who helped them hide and escape from the clutches of the Nazis.

The problem with this book is that it doesn't really tell this story.

Oh, we do get personal stories of survivors, and the clear difference between being in a camp in Italy and a camp anywhere else in Europe. (Many survivors said that living in a prison camp in Italy was like being in "a hotel"). As I said, it's a wonderful, upbeat story of WWII -- and a story we haven't heard before, which is a shame.

However, this book is mainly about the author, Elizabeth Bettina, and her experiences after she dug up this story and helped a few of the survivors go back to Italy to visit the people who helped them survive. And that's the problem with this book! It's only partly about those incidents during WWII. It's mostly about Elizabeth Bettina and the coincidences she encountered and good times she had.

Granted, from story-telling point of view, "We didn't have that bad a time, and we escaped and lived happy lives," isn't all that dramatic of a story. Twenty or thirty stories like that get a bit samey. But when a book pertains to be about an incident during WWII, it should be about THAT, and not about someone finding out about that. I felt that instead of being titled "It Happened in Italy", it should have been titled, "My Adventures In And Around What Happened In Italy." (Less succinct, but more precise.) In fact, this has been a problem with a number of recent non-fiction books I've read lately; they didn't need to be in first person, and in fact could have benefited by not being in first-person. And because the book focuses on her, and she's presumably going to go on locating and helping survivors, it doesn't really have a big finish -- it just ends.

However, as I said, the book does make some good points and presents us with formerly untold stories; something any WWII buff would be interested to find out about. It IS important that these stories get told. I simply wish they had been told on their own.
"Simple goodness triumphed over sophisticated evil...Walters, a survivor said this, "Italians were kind to us and were true examples of the basic principle, Love Thy Neighbor as's important for people to know there were good people during the war--people who risked all to help others survive--by telling my true story, perhaps it could help people in today's world."

I often wondered when I heard of Corrie Ten Boom and how her family hid Jews in their clock repair shop, if others did the same. Elizabeth Bettina was looking at her grandparents pictures and saw something that wasn't quite right in her thinking--which prompted Elizabeth to ask her grandparents' questions. Questions that opened a lot of amazing conversations which lead to her discovery of the Italian camps in Campagna and how Jews were treated there.

Walter, a Jewish man that was transferred to Campagna, Italy, says living in the Italian camps saved his life. Germany had the death camps. Walter says, "It's important to know what happened in Italy. We've been surprised that the Italians do not know what happened in their own back yards. If it were not for the many "Giovanni Palataca's' of Italy, who chose to listen to their own hearts instead of following orders of people who were crazy, well, none of us would have survived.."

Giovanni Palataca was the Italian version of the Shindler depicted in the movie Shindlers List. I'm so glad that I received a review copy of this book. It was exciting to go on this journey with Elizabeth as it took her places she never thought she'd be going and meeting the most extraordinary people. Inside this book were many photographs that depicted the conditions in the Italian camps proving what the survivors said was true. Here is one account of what Walter did in the camp, "I read, played cards, taught English, played the saxophone," even played with the dog he was allowed to keep. Amazing! As the author says, "Truth is stranger than fiction."

I often wondered if people followed their hearts to help the hurting. Many didn't agree with Hitler, that people should be killed just because they were a different religion. You'll have to read this amazing story. You'll be encouraged.

Finding Hope Through Fiction
ACFW Book Club Coordinator

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