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Walter Wolff - A Holocaust Survivor

When most people think about the Holocaust, Italy is not the first country that comes to mind. What many do not know is that there were numerous Italians who played a major role in saving many Jewish families in danger. By telling his astonishing story, a man named Walter Wolff helped shed light on the role individual Italians played in saving Jewish people during the Holocaust.

Walter was a native German who was faced with the devastating repercussions of Hitler's anti Semetic policies. Walter and his brother Bruno were arrested during the Kristallnacht Pogrom and sent to Dachau concentration camp. Their mother was able to make an agreement to have them released under the stipulation that they flee Germany immediately. They moved on to their new home: Italy.

Italy was the only country willing to provide refuge for Walter and his family. Walter and his family were welcomed to the country where they received assistance from many Italians. In his book, Bad Times, Good People: A Holocaust Survivor Recounts His Life in Italy During World War II, Walter shares his story of those who helped hide him and his family, sheltered them and gave them work. In order to assimilate as quickly as possible, Walter taught himself Italian in a matter of weeks by watching movies. He would purchase one movie ticket and stay all day. He watched the same movie until the last viewing.

It was in June of 1940 that Mussolini announced his alliance with Hitler. Walter and his family were brought to three separate internment camps, which bore no resemblance to the Nazi concentration camps. Those in charge treated the Jewish internees with respect and the family members were eventually released to live in designated Jewish towns under the system of Free Confinement. Walter and his family traveled to Casale Monferrato and were soon faced with more troubles. The Germans invaded Italy and were looking to retaliate against Italy for aiding the Jews. Walter’s family was lucky enough to have a landlord warn them and help them move on to the next town where they would be safe from capture.

In time, Walter was able to get false identity papers and become Valter Monti, an Italian war veteran. He and his family moved to Milan where he worked until the Nazi threat was gone. He soon met an Italian Jewish woman who he married and with whom he later immigrated to New York.

Because of the Italian people who protected him and his family, Walter Wolff survived the Holocaust and was able to share his story. Walter's powerful story is just one of many told by survivors who survived the Holocaust in Italy thanks to the courage and decency of individual Italian people who saved them.

Click Here to read more about Walter Wolff and other Jewish survivors.
The Untold Story

Italy and the Holocaust, Inc. (“the Foundation”) was founded in 2010 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization to share the little known story of the role of Italy and many individual Italians in saving approximately 80% of the Jews in Italy during the Holocaust. Our goal is to share stories of survival that were possible because people had the courage to care for their neighbors. In sharing these little known stories, the Foundation will educate generations to come that if people are not indifferent, things can be different.

Evelyn Arzt Bergl Zdenko J. Bergl Sonia Eichenwald Henry (Heinz) Winkler Walter Wolff