Monday, May 11, 2009

It Happened in Italy - defying the Holocaust

It Happened in Italy
Untold stories on how the people of Italy defied the horrors of the Holocaus
By Elizabeth Bettina
Published by Thomas Nelson

One woman's discovery---and the incredible, unexpected journey it takes her on---of how her grandparent's small village of Campagna, Italy, helped save Jews during the Holocaust.

Take a journey with Elizabeth Bettina as she discovers much to her surprise, that her grandparent's small village, nestled in the heart of southern Italy, housed an internment camp for Jews during the Holocaust, and that it was far from the only one. Follow her discovery of survivors and their stories of gratitude to Italy and its people. Explore the little known details of how members of the Catholic church assisted and helped shelter Jews in Italy during World War II.

WHO IS Elizabeth Bettina?
Elizabeth Bettina is a native New Yorker who lived in Italy. Elizabeth graduated from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. Presently, she works in marketing in New York.

Somehow, I was always curious on what happened to the Jews during the Holocaust. I remember reading some other books on people who survived when I was a teenager. But for some reasons, I can’t watch a movie about the war… I know I need to watch Schindler’s List but I still haven’t done it yet.

Recently, I attended a ballet on The Hiding Place performed by Ballet Magnificat! Omega. It tells the story of Corrie ten Boom and her sister and how they hid some Jews and how they spend time in a concentration camp after being discovered. Corrie survived. I was moved by the ballet and the next day I picked up the book which was sitting on a bookshelf and started reading it.

It’s amazing to realize that Jews were treated like human being in Italy while in other parts of Europe it was not the case. Throughout the book you follow Elizabeth as she discovers multiple pieces of a puzzle and bring the truth up in the open. Somehow, she meets survivors and she brings them to Italy. They thank the people who helped them, visit their internment camps and even meet the Pope.

I wonder why the Italians reacted that way. Why there aren’t more stories like that all around Europe? And why many kept their eyes closed or reported their neighbors – people their own kids played with – during the war? The subject is still and emotional one for me. I can’t figure out how someone could just decide to eliminate an ethnic group the way it happened… It bothers me to the core. But reading stories like the ones in It Happened in Italy, I feel refreshed. There is hope that maybe more stories like that can be found in the future. I sense that Elizabeth can discover more survivors and more stories to write another book like this one. I pray that she will continue to be amaze by what God is bringing to her. It’s important that the younger generation knows that amidst the bad things going on, there were still hope and courage and love for the neighbor who is different from us.

I want my kids to love and accept someone no matter what is the background of the person they meet. I hope that someday they will pick this book and read it and realize that sometimes you need to stand up against what is wrong and do what is right even if it means taking some risks and maybe get caught.

This wonderful book is available everywhere. In Canada you can find it at or

Here's some testimonies from some of the survivors.

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