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It Happened in Italy: Untold Stories of How the People of Italy Defied the Horrors of the Holocaust Hardcover – April 21, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson; First Edition edition (April 21, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595551026
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595551023
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.8 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (147 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #937,716 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Elizabeth Bettina is a native New Yorker who lived in Italy. Elizabeth graduated from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts.  At present, she works in marketing in New York.


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Customer Reviews

The book actually reads like a blog.
Diana L. Shores
This is an amazing story about holocaust survivors in Italy that was so rivetting I could not put it down.
Patti Chadwick
So, it was with Elizabeth Bettina and the story of Jewish internment camps in Italy in WWII.
Emily Decobert

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 35 people found the following review helpful By sec682 VINE VOICE on May 13, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is not your typical book on the Holocaust - this one turned out to be heartwarming, rather than heartbreaking. It was not quite what I was expecting though. While it did relay the "untold stories of how the people of Italy defied the horrors of the holocaust" as the title states, the majority of the book actually dealt with the discovery of these stories and the subsequent trips back to Italy for the survivors, and the special friendships that were subsequently formed. There are actually only a handful of the untold stories, and most of them sound identical. The reason for that, however, is because of what even the survivors say - "nothing really happened to us there". Basically, the author discovers that there was an internment camp for Jews in Campagna, the small town that her family is from. After a series of sheer luck incidents, she discovers that these camps were all over Italy, and that the survivors of them were ready to talk about them. The interesting thing, is that barely anyone knows that these camps existed - including the current residents of these Italian towns. These camps were not death camps like Auschwitz, in fact, they were quite opposite. Technically yes, the Jews were in internment camps, but they were pretty much free to do as they pleased so long as they adhered to a few basic rules, such as obey curfew, and check in with the police everyday. Families were kept together, not torn apart. Weddings took place, children were born, they went to school, made friends with the locals, and were even allowed to be buried in a special section of the cemetery that had been requested by the Jews. In fact, they were even allowed to practice their religion. One synagogue was even set up inside an old convent attached to a Catholic church!Read more ›
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By J. Hall on January 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The book "It Happened In Italy" presents us with a wonderful and untold WWII story: the story of the Jews who survived, and actually didn't have that bad of a time, thanks to Italian Catholics who helped them hide and escape from the clutches of the Nazis.

The problem with this book is that it doesn't really tell this story.

Oh, we do get personal stories of survivors, and the clear difference between being in a camp in Italy and a camp anywhere else in Europe. (Many survivors said that living in a prison camp in Italy was like being in "a hotel"). As I said, it's a wonderful, upbeat story of WWII -- and a story we haven't heard before, which is a shame.

However, this book is mainly about the author, Elizabeth Bettina, and her experiences after she dug up this story and helped a few of the survivors go back to Italy to visit the people who helped them survive. And that's the problem with this book! It's only partly about those incidents during WWII. It's mostly about Elizabeth Bettina and the coincidences she encountered and good times she had.

Granted, from story-telling point of view, "We didn't have that bad a time, and we escaped and lived happy lives," isn't all that dramatic of a story. Twenty or thirty stories like that get a bit samey. But when a book pertains to be about an incident during WWII, it should be about THAT, and not about someone finding out about that. I felt that instead of being titled "It Happened in Italy", it should have been titled, "My Adventures In And Around What Happened In Italy." (Less succinct, but more precise.) In fact, this has been a problem with a number of recent non-fiction books I've read lately; they didn't need to be in first person, and in fact could have benefited by not being in first-person.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful By M. Carswell on May 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Italian Jews in a concentration camp being allowed to visit a relative in a German concentration camp?

Concentration camp survivors dressed in nice clothes and not skeletal upon liberation?

A Jew being sent to the spa with his wife because he had health issues while in the concentration camp?

A Jewish synagogue created in the internment camp of a catholic church?

These are the stories that emerge out of Italy in the book, It Happened in Italy by Elizabeth Bettina.

Whereas the majority of Germans lost their souls and turned their backs on the Jews, during WWII, some even being involved in their deaths, Italians rose up and defied the leaders over them. The Jews who were put into concentration camps in Italy were treated well and with respect. There were no death chambers and there was no starvation and degredation. Instead, they were treated as guests.

This story was not well known but somehow Elizabeth stumbled onto it and discovered a passion in her heart that it must be told to the world.

Although the book contained facts and stories I found fascinating, I was disappointed with it. The front cover carries the caption, "Untold stories of how the people of Italy defied the horrors of the Holocaust". This seemed to indicate to me that I would open the book and dive right in to Corrie Ten Boom like stories - chapter and chapters of them.

Instead, the first eighteen chapters were about the author. How she came across the story. How she decided to write it. How she hooked up survivors with important people. How she took survivors back to Italy. I felt like I was reading about her. Some may have wanted the background she provided. I did not. I wanted the stories of courage and inspiration.
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