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Serving Jews in Florence Emerge from Hiding Places; Were Aided by Italians

August 16, 1944
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The surviving fragment of Florence Jewry, which formerly numbered 2500 souls, is beginning to emerge after eleven months of hiding as the Eighth Army forces, aided by Italian partisans, consolidate their hold on principal areas of the city.

It is impossible at present to state what proportion of the Jewish community survived the Nazi persecution and the final flare-up of Fascist Republican terror. But those Jews whom the correspondent of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency was able to locate under the present disorganized conditions, seemed optimistic that the number of surviving Jews will be larger than anticipated.

Vittorio Frille, one of the leaders of the Florence Jewish community, estimated that one-fifth of the total number of Jews in the city had been arrested and deported. This number included Rabbi Nathan Casuto, who, after the arrest, was known to have been taken to Venice. Several hundred Jews arrested prior to the Nazi occupation of Italy succeeded in escaping to the interior after the fall of Mussclini, Frille stated.

While many of the Florentine Jews escaped to Switzerland and in the direction of Rome, the majority went into hiding in Florence and in the vicinity where Italian friends sheltered and hid them, An unusually large number fled into the mountains to join partisan units.

As in Rome and in other Italian cities, many Jewish women and children found shelter in Catholic convents, and men in other religions establishments. The underground organization of the National Liberation Committee which began functioning as soon as the Germans occupied the city, aided these fugitives throughout the entire period of occupation, obtaining for them hideouts, identity papers, food and other necessities. Frille, for instance, had identity papers furnished to him by an Italian general.

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