January 24, 2013 by Italians in Chicago
On the occasion of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Italian Cultural Institute presents: “The Thread of Memory – projects and experiences on the memories of the Holocaust in Saluzzo and the Province of Cuneo” with the participation of Paolo Allemano, Mayor of Saluzzo, Sandro Capellaro of the Association “Giorgio Biandrata”, Silvana Greco and two survivors of the Holocaust now living in Chicago: Chaya Roth and Gitta Fajerstein. The event is going to take place at the Claudia Cassidy Theater of the Chicago Cultural Center, on Thursday, Jan. 31 2013 at 6.00 p.m.
In May 1939, the Pact of Steel was signed in Berlin; Mussolini whole-heartedly committed Italy to the German cause. In August, German Foreign Minister Ribbentrop conferred with Italian Foreign Minister Ciano, who was Mussolini’s son-in-law. Ciano was shocked by the true extent of Germany’s ambitions.
On September 1st, 1.5 million German troops invaded Poland. The war – and Germany’s ‘Final Solution’ – had begun. After Germany’s success in France, Italy joined the war in June 1940. Mussolini was granted occupational control of sections of southern France, Greece, and Croatia. These zones quickly became known as safe havens for Jews, owing to the reluctance of so many Italians to support Hitler’s ‘final solution’.
But following Italy’s armistice with the Allies, on September 8th 1943, these safe havens were quickly overrun by the German army and the persecution of the thousands of Jews who had sought refuge in the Italian occupied areas, began. Between September 9th and 13th 1943, a thousand Jews left Southern France trying to reach the safer territories of Italy by crossing the Alps. Many reached the town of Saluzzo and were sheltered by its inhabitants who, shunning the danger of nazi reprisals, hid them. Two of the survivors of the ordeal, Chaya Roth and Gitta Fajerstein, are now living in Chicago and will be present at the commemoration at the Cassidy Theater of the Cultural Center to meet the Mayor of Saluzzo and reminisce together. The evening will feature photographs and documentaries.
This event is free and open to the public. Reservations are strongly suggested and can be made by clicking here.