At the height of World War II, while the Nazis and most of their allies were deporting and exterminating the Jews of Europe, some 40,000 found protection in the most unlikely of places: territories occupied by the army of Fascist Italy. In areas under their occupation in Croatia, France and Greece, Italian soldiers and diplomats refused to collaborate in the “Final Solution”, despite orders from Mussolini himself to comply with the German requests.
This documentary film takes the form of a personal investigation by the director, Joseph Rochlitz, whose father, Imre Rochlitz was saved by the Italians in occupied Croatia. The film widens out to describe the Italian rescue efforts in France and Greece between 1941 and 1943, and seeks to understand the motives behind this extraordinary Italian attitude. Produced in 1987 and re-edited in 1994, this documentary includes rare interviews with some of the protagonists of the Italian rescue efforts, as well as the testimony of Jews saved by their actions.
Historical consultants appearing in the film are Menachem Shelah (Yad Vashem, Israel) and Serge Klarsfeld, the French lawyer and historian. The wartime memoirs of Imre Rochlitz, Accident of Fate, on which this documentary is based, are scheduled to be published by Wilfrid Laurier University Press in 2011.
Directed by Joseph Rochlitz, 57 minutes. Presented with the Istituto Italiano di Cultura.
Jan 28, 2011
Chicago Cultural Center
78 E. Washington St., Claudia Cassidy Theater
Chicago, IL 60602