Don't you love when in a very familiar story, told countless times from countless perspectives until it is familiar to everyone, there suddenly is found a revealing piece of the puzzle that was left unturned by the many who passed by?
That is the story of "It Happened in Italy".
While it is the stuff fiction is made of, it is a true story that changes our understanding of historical events.
It was the author herself, Elizabeth Bettina, who turned up that ignored puzzle piece that lay hidden in full view waiting for someone to give it more than a passing glance.
Elizabeth, an American, with strong family roots in Champagna, Italy, travelled many times, with her grandmother back and forth to visit her grandmother's childhood home where family members still live.
On the visit that changed her life, she was given a book by a distant relative. In it was a photo taken on the steps of a church in Champagna, the very church where her grandparents were married. What made Elizabeth look twice was the fact that in the photo were three men... a police officer, a priest, and a rabbi. Elizabeth's keen mind immediately recognized that she had never seen nor was aware that there there had ever been any rabbis in Champagna during the 40's.
Elizabeth's sharp reporter's mind and her keen curiosity would not let her rest until she had solved the mystery. Her book chronicles her quest and reveals a piece of the holocaust story that restores one's faith in the goodness of man in the face of evil.
Here in Italy, the internment camps were built, not to destroy the Jews but to protect them. Elizabeth's journey is one that leaves you wondering ... how in the world did this story remain hidden until it was almost buried forever with the last survivors of these camps?
This book tells the hitherto untold story of Italy's reaction to Hitler's resolve to exterminate the Jews. One particular poignant account tells of an 'Italian Schindler' who saved many Jews from being exterminated but he paid with his own life at Dachau. He himself died the death he saved others from. It so spoke to me of the sacrifice Jesus made for us.
While I was disappointed in the literary level of the book, I know if you have any interest at all in WWII and the plot against the Jews, this book will surely interest you in showing you a side of the story you have never heard.