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This Has Happened: An Italian Family in Auschwitz

Piera Sonnino. Ann Goldstein, trans. David Denby, foreword. Mary Doria Russell, afterword.
Publisher Palgrave  
Format paperback
Product Dimensions 8.25 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
ISBN 9780230613997
Pages/Publication Date 218/2004
Daedalus Item Code 31999
This item is not available.
(National Jewish Book Award Finalist) Years after her return home to Genoa from Auschwitz, Piera Sonnino found the courage to write down the story of the extermination of her parents, three brothers, and two sisters by the Nazis. Discovered in Italy and never before published in English, this poignant and extraordinarily well-written account is strikingly accurate in bringing to life the methodical and relentless erosion of the freedoms and human dignity of the Italian Jews, from Mussolini's racial laws of 1938 to the institutionalized horror of the death camps.

"In spare, beautifully translated language, Sonnino details her life in Genoa prior to 1938, when the racial laws went into effect. Within a lower-middle-class environment, her parents and siblings were 'lambs, good people, ready to suffer many wrongs rather than be stained by a single one, eager to make as little noise as possible and occupy the least space possible on this earth.' In 1943, when the Germans arrived in Italy, the Sonninos hid in mountain villages, but were betrayed, arrested and, in 1944, sent to Auschwitz. The author's account of the last night they spent together is eloquent. Her parents and two of her brothers were killed in the gas chambers. Sonnino watched her sister, Bice, succumb to dysentery at the Braunschweig concentration camp after the two were incarcerated at the Bergen-Belsen camp. After the war the author spent five years in rehabilitation centers and sanitariums and returned to Genoa in 1950. She married, raised two children and penned this searing testimony for her family in 1960."Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"David Denby postulates in the book's foreword that Sonnino survived because she was strong and also lucky because she didn't become ill. He also theorizes that the family's determination to stick together may have hastened their destruction. This stunning memoir is one of the most amazing stories to come to light. It is a valuable find and a crucial document from the history of the Holocaust."Booklist

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