Columbus Day Parade will honor Italians who sheltered Jews during Holocaust

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Columbus Day Parade is just a week away, and this year's event will be a tribute to the Italians who provided shelter to Jews who fled Nazi Germany.

Tucked away inside her Lincoln Park Apartment are relics of Dr. Adina Sella's childhood, including the papers her parents used to survive the Holocaust.

"This is the false from my mother, the false paper. Her name became Elza Filey. Fila was her maiden name, but they made it Filey," Sella says.

Sella, her brother and parents managed to escape Nazi Germany and ended up in Italy, a nation that had joined forces with Hitler.

Some 8,000 Italian Jews were killed during the Holocaust, but Sella says much of what really happened in Italy remains untold.

"We were at the mercy of the Italian people. They were outstanding, they saved our lives, they protected us," she says.

WATCH: Adina Sella's full interview with Terrell Brown


"We lived freely in Italy," says Edna Epstein, another Holocaust survivor. "I was never hidden, I was never hungry. I guess I knew we were Jews but I didn't feel terror."

Fleeing the Nazis in Yugoslavia, Epstein and her family found refuge in Lovrana, Italy and were protected by police.

"I don't think we as a family would've survived in any other country in Europe," Epstein says.

WATCH: Edna Epstein's full interview with Terrell Brown


A majority of Jews in Italy survived the Holocaust. Epstein credits the Italian culture, this innate sense to protect rather than imperil.

"This needs to be told," says Dominic DiFrisco, President Emereitus of the Join Civic Committee of Italian Americans. "Wherever people want to learn about the basic goodness of mankind, which is sometimes buried in evil, that there are still moments when we triumphantly say no to evil."
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