Thomas Nelson recently put out the book It Happened in Italy, by Elizabeth Bettina. The book was a good read and the story flowed pretty well (though it became a little disjointed at times).
The book was a narrative telling of Bettina’s discovering the story of the survival of many Jews in the internment camps in Italy during World War II, in what were relatively good conditions compared to what was going on in the rest of Europe. While, throughout the rest Europe, Jews were taken to concentration and death camps and treated as if they were inhuman, in Italy the Jews were treated with respect, and though they were moved into specific “internment” communities, were allowed to live relatively normal lives. They carried on life as usual, including recreation, business, and even religion, as long as they checked in every day. This story of hope in the midst of the horror of the Holocaust is relatively unknown in the world today, but Bettina brings it to light.
Overall, I found the book a good read, but was a little disappointed by it. I received it expecting to read a historical narrative patched together from survivor stories and historical research, but what I read was a narrative about finding the stories of survival. The book was not about the survival itself, but about Bettina’s discovery of the story and the way her life began to intertwine with the lives of the survivors. While it was good, I hope to see a more historical work born of her efforts to find the story.
I would suggest this book to pique one’s interest in Holocaust history, but it by no means fulfills one’s wildest dreams.