Mr. Ezio Giorgetti, a hotel owner on the Adriatic Coast, was responsible for the rescue of forty Jewish refugees in the aftermath of Italy’s armistice with the Allies.
On September 1943, a few days after the armistice, a group of forty Yugoslav Jews from the city of Asolo (Treviso), arrived in the town of Bellaria, near Rimini, and asked Mr. Giorgetti for help in finding a suitable place to hide. Mr. Giorgetti decided to reopen his Hotel Savoia despite it being the end of the summer season and whilst asking for a small fee for the accommodation, he promised to host them until the liberation, at great personal risk.
When the Germans occupied the area and began to search around Bellaria, forcing all of the civilians out, Mr. Giorgetti decided to take the situation into his own hands and moved the Jewish group repeatedly to elude the Gestapo. First, he housed them in a smaller hotel on the Adriatic. Then, the 40 Jews were moved to an empty farmhouse, which Ezio had furnished himself by taking some of the furniture from his own hotel. Later, when this place also proved risky, Mr. Giorgetti moved the refugees to another hotel, the ”Pensione Italia’, after persuading the owner to hide them in his rooms. ”The moment we arrived at the Pension Italia, our financial relationship with Mr. Ezio Giorgetti came to an end… Previously we might have thought that his actions had been motivated by an interest in prolonging the hotel season. But a close bond had formed between him and us through all our daily contacts, and for Mr. Ezio Giorgetti our destiny and his now somehow became linked,” explains Josef Konforti, one of the refugee group’s leaders.
Despite pressure from his parents to let the group go, Ezio’s main concern became that of ensuring the survival of the 40 refugees and he was willing to take any risk necessary and to pay for anything they needed in order to achieve this. ”He did not falter for even a moment,” writes Konforti. ”He kept on advising and helping us, putting us in touch with the clergy, with the anti-fascist elements, with the authorities in neighboring San Marino, and bringing medical help whenever required.”
When the Gestapo occupied the Pension Italia, Ezio contacted some locals in the villages around the mountains near San Marino and managed to smuggle the group out of the hotel and into friendly villagers’ houses until the Liberation. During that time, despite risking his life, Ezio visited the refugees on a regular basis, bringing food and emotional support to all of them.
Dr. Neumann, one of the refugees who survived thanks to Ezio’s generosity and civic courage does not understate the magnitude of Ezio’s material and psychological support:
”I am telling the unvarnished truth when I say that Ezio’s help, personal sacrifice and devotion saved the whole group, including my family and parents, from death at the hands of the Nazis.”
- Paldiel, Mordecai. The Path of the Righteous. Hoboken: KTAV Publishing House. 1993.