In the darkest and most tragic moment of the twentieth century, when men were methodically working to destroy humanity, and it seemed impossible to resist the Nazi death machine, 50 high-ranking Italian diplomats and generals saved almost 50,000 Jewish lives, helping them to escape persecution, deportation and death.
In Italy’s occupied territories - Croatia and Yugoslavia, the South of France and Greece - these men were chosen by Mussolini to represent his regime, and implement his policies. But in our story, they made a different choice. For reasons that are clear for some, mysterious for others, these 50 men were guided by a personal choice to do good, to do right … to save human lives.
In May of 1939, when the Pact of Steel was signed in Berlin, Mussolini whole-heartedly committed Italy to the German cause. In August, German Foreign Minister Ribbentrop conferred with Italian Foreign Minister Ciano, who was Mussolini’s son-in-law. Ciano was shocked by the true extent of Germany’s ambitions. Within weeks, on September 1st, 1.5 million German troops invaded Poland. The war - and Germany’s ‘Final Solution’ - had begun. After Germany’s success in France, Italy joined the war in June 1940.
The documentary will follow events from 1940 until the proclamation of the armistice between the US and Italy on September 8th, 1943. We will crisscross through parts of Southern Europe where the 50 Italians were stationed, and where they used all the tools in their possession to avoid handing over the Jews – Italian and non-Italian – to the Germans. They were the protagonists of a revolt against a cruel, horrific power – a revolt which also illustrates the unique personality of the Italians: chaotic, courageous, rebellious and even comic … but at their core, a deep sense of humanity.
In a time when “never again” is being tested, this documentary can show just how altruism’s impact can change destiny.