This Has Happened: An Italian Family in Auschwitz
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Five years after her return home from Auschwitz, Piera Sonnino found the courage to tell the story of the extermination of her parents, three brothers, and two sisters by the Nazis. Discovered in Italy and never before published in English, this poignant and extraordinarily well-written account is strikingly accurate in bringing to life the methodical and relentless erosion of the freedoms and human dignity of the Italian Jews, from Mussolini's racial laws of 1938 to the institutionalized horror of Auschwitz. Through Sonnino's words, memory has the power to disarm these unspeakable evils.
slit, high up. The air was heavy, impossible to breathe. The four of us huddled in a corner, far from the other unfortunate women. It was easy to understand who they were by observing their behavior and, even more, by listening to their conversation, which was interrupted by brief nervous laughs. Mamma, in a low voice, told us not to look at them. My mother was literally undone by the place we were in. We had been terrified of arrest, had feared it, and within ourselves, perhaps, we had always
assemble was so sudden that Maria Luisa had to run. We thought that hours of night work awaited her and we suffered for her, already so tired from the long day. In the morning, upon awaking, we were sure from one moment to the next that we would see her; in fact, as we opened our eyes, we counted on finding her beside us, having returned during the night. In the evening, Bice and I couldn’t wait to reach the stable. Maria Luisa still wasn’t there. One of the Hungarians made us understand that,
from the former camp, for any trace of Maria Luisa. I thought that from Braunschweig she had been sent back to Belsen, but all my searching was in vain. Finally, on September 21, 1945, I see Italy again. The moment we crossed the border the train was a single shout. It was our life that, having escaped extermination, shouted, cried, went wild. I was admitted to the Red Cross hospital in Merano. I immediately wrote to my relatives to say that I had returned. On October 1 a nurse came rushing,
the efforts of Perla Moroni and of Signora Bancalari to find apartments in Genoa where the family could hide. The goodness and courage of those who helped so many like the Sonninos deserve to be recognized and honored in Italy. It would be unjust to deny them that respect simply because others refuse to admit that their own actions deserve condemnation. * * * One doesn’t have to be an elderly Fascist to indulge in self-flattering fantasies. Many enduring questions arise from the Holocaust,
Abruzzo-Molise), which was taken by Montgomery’s VIII Army on October 3, 1943. Bearing out this hypothesis is the fact that the surname Sciarretta is common in the area, and in the text it is said that the lawyer’s brother lived there. With the failure of the “Termini” prospect, the lawyer proposes a “monastery in the Abruzzo.” One can also exclude the possibility that the reference is to the village of Termine, also in Abruzzo, near Mt. Terminillo. The reasons are three: that area was liberated