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It Happened in Italy: Untold Stories of How the People of Italy Defied the Horrors of the Holocaust

3.47  ·  Rating Details ·  228 Ratings  ·  72 Reviews
IMAGINE ELIZABETH BETTINA'S SURPRISE when she discovered that her grandmother's village had a secret: over a half century ago, many of Campagna's residents defied the Nazis and risked their lives to shelter and save hundreds of Jews during the Holocaust. What followed her discovery became an adventure as she uncovered fascinating untold stories of Jews in Italy during Worl ...more
ebook, 416 pages
Published April 21st 2009 by Thomas Nelson
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Violet wells
Shame this book isn’t what it claims to be. I thought I was going to read a book about how foreign Jews fared in Italy during WW2. Instead it’s a book almost entirely about the author and her endeavours to put this book together. It’s almost comical in its relentless narcissisms. In 340 pages perhaps twenty are devoted to the stories of the survivors she meets. A less scholarly book would be hard to imagine. Bettina wants to portray Italian concentration camps as more like holiday camps than the ...more
Kristy Miller
This is not a bad book, but the author is not a great author and the book is not quite what I expected. It is written like a blog, short chapters focusing on one event, thought, or person. And it is more about the authors journey of discovery, and work on finding these stories than it is about the actual stories of survival. Not to say that her story isn't interesting, as I identified with her quite a bit, but it wasn't why I bought the book. We only get the barest of details about the survivors ...more
Sep 13, 2011 Allie rated it did not like it
Typed into the Star of David, set on the bottom left hand corner of this book is the tagline that goes something like this; the true story of the untold horrors the Italian Jews suffered during the Holocaust. Based on the first couple of pages of this book and this tagline, I thought for sure this book would be a great story about how people overcame the horrors of the Holocaust and survived, with help from their Italian neighbors. I can say after finishing that I was extremely disappointed in t ...more
Jun 26, 2013 Jennifer rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cbr-v
This is probably more of a rant than a review but I was just so disappointed with the book this was compared to the book I thought it was going to be. Maybe I shouldn't judge a book just on my expectations, but I also believe the title was misleading so the publishers or author created those same expectations.

What kind of book should one expect with that title? I was expecting a oral history, or a non-fiction historical account of the people that survived the Holocaust while living in Italy, the
Jun 11, 2010 rjp316 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I loved the concept of this book. It was fascinating to learn that Italy actually had concentration/internment camps during WWII. These camps were thousands of times better than the concentration camps in Germany and elsewhere where millions of Jews died. In Italy – the prisoners were allowed to walk the streets, play soccer, get married, kept their own closes and even pray and attend service at the synagogue. This was about those prisoners and those courageous Italians who risked everything to ...more
Michael Gerald
Aug 19, 2014 Michael Gerald rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the most uplifting and inspiring books I have read. In a continent cast into darkness by war and genocide in the 1940s, Italy and most Italians stood as a beacon of light and good. Despite being a nominal ally of Nazi Germany and having discriminatory racial laws, the Italians never murdered (officially or not) the Jews who went to Italy for refuge. The Italian government did intern the Jews in camps, but those camps were way different from the Nazi camps.

It was almost like the J
I found this book to be more of a documentary style about the author rather than telling the stories of the survivors of the Holocaust in Italy. She told more about her adventures to find people and meeting with Italian officials than the actual stories of the survivors.
I was amazed to find out that there had been concentration camps in Italy, but that they were very different from the typical concentration camps associated with Germany in World War II. I was amazed that the people were treated
Josh Dellorto
Elizabeth Bettina discovers that her grandmothers small village of campaña in Italy was a town that kept Jews safe during World War 2. She has been visiting there since childhood and now discovers this great story. She soon learns that most cities and towns in Italy helped Jewish people instead of turning them over to the nazis. During this story she meets survivors of is terrible event that teach others how Italy was here safe haven.

I would no recommend this book if you are looking for exciteme
Feb 14, 2013 Julie rated it it was ok
Another one for the half star system, in my books -- 1.5 would do it, because it rests marginally above "i didn't like it" and marginally beneath "it was OK". Oh dear.

This book is representative of a huge marketing miss -- ironic only because the author works in the marketing industry, according to the dust jacket. The jacket promises, "untold stories of how the people of Italy defied the horrors of the Holocaust", but there aren't very many stories told.

Oh, wait ... perhaps the joke is on me:
Sep 07, 2011 Sara rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The topic of this book is so enthralling and the few stories as told by the survivors of the detention camps in Italy are fascinating - but the author, sad to say, is just a terrible writer. I kept looking through the credits of the book to be sure that there really was an editor involved, because I was certain that no one could have read this book and approved the author's writing - yes, it was that bad. This is such an important story which needs to be told and I do have to give credit to the ...more
Kristi Thielen
Oct 27, 2011 Kristi Thielen rated it liked it
A folksy, sunny account of Ms. Bettina's efforts to take Jews who survived the Holocaust in Italy, back to the sites where they lived, including some very unusual "concentration camps" where Jews were not only NOT harmed - but lived peaceably and even practiced their faith. Bettina's emotions are heartfelt and the story - one of the few bright spots of the era - is well worth telling.

My only discomfort was with Bettina's views of the church. Clearly a devout Roman Catholic and a near-groupie of
Feb 04, 2011 Deigh rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is simply an awful book. I could not plow through any more of it than the first 100 pages. It is a very important story of love and courage in Italy during WWII but the author in her attempt to be cute and folksy ends up being trite and self serving and thus trivializes an important story. The book is filled with nonsense put in to make her look cute and the real information is scattered in bits and pieces. The story is greatand heroic but there really is not enough of it to make a book - m ...more
Dec 28, 2011 Carly rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The only thing that saves this book from a one-star rating is the novelty of the subject. Learning about the Jews in Italy brought to attention a part of history that is not well known. However, the number of pages that is about that part if history probably take up one tenth of the book, with the rest being all about the author. This book felt very selfish, given that it Aa supposed to be about others.
May 29, 2012 Diane added it
Recommended to Diane by: Doreen
Loved this book. So glad that something good came out of a terrible time. It was amazing how the Jews were treated in Italy compared to the rest of Europe.
Makes me even prouder of my Italian heritage.
Jun 23, 2017 Robyn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What an amazing story. One that needed to be told. It's an easy read with just enough detail to be interesting but not overwhelmed.
May 11, 2009 Joe rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’m not the kind of person who can talk to just anyone. I make friends fairly easy, but in a crowded room where I don’t know anyone, I’m more likely to grab a drink, open a book, and keep to myself (which is why the idea of “networking lunches” at conferences makes me nauseous). It’s not that I don’t like people. I do. And I genuinely enjoy talking and getting to know them and making connections. I’m just not very comfortable forcing it. I’m better at it when it happens naturally — or naturally ...more
Elizabeth Bettina is an Italian-American Catholic who spent her childhood summers with relatives in Campagna, Italy. During one visit as an adult, she discovered that Jews had been interned in Campagna during the war. She was fascinated by this, wondered why it wasn't talked about, and proceeded to become deeply involved in finding people who had been interned, telling their story and taking them back to the places where they had been. This should have been an absolutely riveting book. It's not. ...more
May 26, 2009 Weavre rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Troy, Chris G., Dani, many others
Recommended to Weavre by: Vine
Learning about the history of the Holocaust has always seemed more important than enjoyable, something I feel I ought to do rather than something I really want to do. This book is different. In fact, I'd even recommend it as a great summer "beach read". Uplifting, positive, lighthearted, and filled with true stories of human goodness, it's not like any other Holocaust history I've ever seen.

For anyone weighed down with knowledge of the Milgram experiments and the atrocities people are capable o
Trupti Dorge
Rating: 2.5 rounded to 2

It happened in Italy shows a different side to Holocaust and the concentrations camps. Only the camps mentioned in this book are not located in Germany but in Italy. I don’t know about others, but I had no idea there were concentration camps in Italy. Neither did author Elizabeth Bettina.

The research starts when the author discovers her Catholic parents wedding photographs outside a church with a priest standing next to a Rabbi. Since the author’s grandmother was from Ita
Jun 19, 2009 Dave rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, non-fiction
Elizabeth Bettina’s “It Happened in Italy” is a difficult book for me to rate and review. On the one hand you have an incredibly interesting story and a likeable person in Elizabeth Bettina, and on the other hand, you have a narrative that goes all over the place; sometimes telling the story of the Holocaust in Italy and how many Italians protected Jews and other times telling you the story of how Elizabeth Bettina learned about the story, and still other sections in which the author tells us he ...more
Apr 10, 2012 Doreen rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Diane, Jews, Italians, those interested in WWII
Recommended to Doreen by: bought a signed copy at CLA conference last year.
Loved this book, which uncovers the story of Jews interned in Italy during WWII. I have never been taught about the treatment of Jews in Italy. No history professor nor text has ever mentioned this part of the Holocaust to me.

With Italy participating as part of Hitler's Axis powers, Jews were sent to camps within Italy, that were safe, clean, and accommodating to families. For the most part, Jews were allowed to live freely under the protection of the Italian government. There are photos of dai
It Happened in Italy tells the story of little known part of history during World War II, about the Jewish population in Italy. While this aspect of the story is quite interesting and not a subject that I was familiar with the book itself is average at best. Bettina became fascinated with the Jewish population in Italy after seeing a photo with a rabbi, priest, and police officers together. What she saw in this photo led her to research how this could be.

Campagna, Ferramonti and other remote Ita
Jun 01, 2009 Carole rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: holocaust, italy, jews
"I always told Fred that he had a picnic in Italy. I said to him, 'You complained that sometimes you had too much soup, while I was lucky to get a few spoons of some dirty water,' " recalled Edith Moskovitch Birns. Edith is a survivor of Auschwitz, while the man who would become her husband, Alfred (Fred) Birns, survived the Holocaust in Italy.

For me, these opening lines sum up the theme of this amazing and almost unheard of story. Compared to the millions of Jews who perished in the Concentrat
Bob H
Nov 30, 2014 Bob H rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: holocaust
An interesting, oddly warm, story of how Jews in WWII Italy survived the Holocaust, aided by sympathetic Italians, official and unofficial, including an internment center in the author's ancestral home in Campagna. The internment centers could be relatively easygoing, even pleasant, refuges.

Readers should be aware that this book is more of a diary, a journal of the author's trips and meetings to interview those who lived through this experience. The narrative follows Ms. Bettina, not a single ch
Apr 24, 2009 Renee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It Happened in Italy is the untold stories of how the people of Italy defied the horrors of the holocaust. Bettina (the author) discovers the story of Giovanni Palatucci and his connection to her family's village of Campagna,Italy. Palatucci was an Italian that had access to records of Italy's foreign residents. Instead of using the information (including their religion) to turn them in to be exterminated in Germany, he makes the choice to protect them in camps throughout southern Italy (one of ...more
Jun 19, 2009 Diane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Don't let the title fool you; It Happened in Italy is not a chick-lit book. The subtitle, Untold Stories of How the People of Italy Defied the Horrors of the Holocaust, gives the reader a better idea of the substance of this non-fiction book.

Told in simple style by author Elizabeth Bettina, it recounts her discovery of how Jewish people fled to Italy from Germany to escape the Nazi regime, and were hidden by many courageous Italians, one of whom, Giovanni Palatucci, was sent to a German camp an
Jun 08, 2009 ShareStories rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
It Happened in Italy>/i> by Elizabeth Bettina tells the important story of the kind and dignified treatment of the Jews living in Italy during World War II by the Italians. It is a story that needs to be told and archived for history's sake and sheds a glimmer of hope in an era of heinous world wide crime against humanity. The humane treatment of the Jews by the Italians during this time says a lot about Italian culture and values and those of the Church. The stark contrast with Germany an ...more
May 30, 2014 Libby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Biography lovers; Those interested in World War 2 ; History buffs; interested in the Holocaust
Shelves: scribd
The Holocaust survivors and those in Italy who helped the Jewish people's stories were wonderful but as another reviewer mentioned the author writes FAR too much about herself and searching out the stories. The focus needed to be on their stories NOT her story in discovering about this and finding others that had been helped by the people of Italy. That being said this really is a little known part of history and I loved finding out about the Italian people and how 80% of the Jewish people in I ...more
Aug 04, 2010 Hattie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It Happened in Italy by Elizabeth Bettina

It Happened In Italy by Elizabeth Bettina, is a missing part of Italian and Jewish History. Campagna, Ferramonti and other remote Italian towns were places where Jewish people did not experience the horrors of Dachau or Auschwitz. Therefore, the words “concentration camps” were never used by the carabiniere. Some of the rescued people likened their lives to living in a “hotel.”

In these Italian villages the Jewish people went to synagogue, prayed, and fami
Jun 15, 2009 Donna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Holocaust: a monstrous time in the world’s history. Yet, the people of one country stood against the death and destruction, quietly saving Jews from slaughter. It Happened in Italy tells the stories of survivors and those who helped them. Many Italians opened their hearts and homes, putting their lives at risk, for their neighbors and refugees from other countries.

From the moment I opened this book, I was captivated by the stories Elizabeth Bettina uncovered. Her journey began with a photo o
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