July 31 in Albuquerque: My Italian secret. The forgotten heroes of the Holocaust

Jul 13, 2018 1136

Would you risk your life to save a stranger, and never talk about it? Scores of Italians did just that as part of a secret underground to save Jews from extermination in Nazi-occupied Italy. Some were ordinary citizens, others were prominent figures. One was Giovanni Borromeo, a distinguished physician who created a fictitious contagious disease to keep the SS away from the hospital where he was hiding Jews. Another was the beloved sports idol of the time, champion cyclist Gino Bartali, who made dozens of deliveries to the Italian Resistance of counterfeit documents and messages hidden in the frame of his bicycle.

These and other stories of courageous Italians who shielded Italian Jews and refugees during Nazi domination in WWII are told in Oren Jacoby’s dramatic documentary, My Italian Secret, to be screened free of charge to the public in a collaborative effort of several Italian, Jewish, and community groups in Albuquerque.

The idea was born by Italian Festivals of New Mexico (IFNM), producer of the annual NM Italian Film & Culture Festival, a nonprofit whose mission is to celebrate and raise awareness of Italian culture in New Mexico. “When we heard that Italy’s premier bicycle race, the Giro d’Italia, would kick off in Jerusalem this year to honor Gino Bartali, we thought the time was right to spread the word here locally about this little-known piece of Italian-Jewish history,” noted IFNM President, Maria Arancio Berry. Berry learned of the historic Italian-Jewish connection several years ago through Jacoby’s documentary. She has been looking for an opportune time to offer an Albuquerque screening. “It’s in keeping with IFNM’s mission – to raise awareness of Italian culture – and with the vehicle we use to fulfill that mission – film,” she says.

“What a great way to build a bridge of friendship between two very vibrant and active Albuquerque communities!”

he My Italian Secret film event will take place on Tuesday, July 31 at 7:00 PM at Congregation Albert, 3800 Louisiana NE in Albuquerque. There is no admission charge and it is open to the public – of interest not only to members of the Italian and Jewish communities, but also to history buffs and cyclists. A courtesy RSVP is requested to 505-348-4518. The event includes an introduction and remarks by Annalisa Di Nola whose Italian-Jewish family experienced the Nazi occupation of Rome.

In partnership with Italian Festivals of New Mexico, the event is made possible by the generous sponsorship of The Jewish Community Center of Greater Albuquerque, Congregation Albert, The Holocaust and Intolerance Museum of New Mexico, and the Albuquerque Community Foundation.

SOURCE: Maria Arancio Berry

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