Just as Anna graduated from elementary school, major political changes were happening in the world. The Nazis had come to power in Germany, and the leader of Anna’s country, Benito Mussolini , decided to align Italy with the Nazi state, signing a treaty of friendship in October 1936.
In May 1939, Italy signed the Pact of Steel with Nazi Germany, only a few months before Germany invaded Poland and began WWII, in September of that same year. In June 1940, Italy entered the war as a German ally, and in September 1940 Mussolini signed the Tripartite Pact , forming the alliance of the three Axis Powers of Germany, Italy, and Japan.
Anna’s father stayed informed of developments in the war by listening to news from London on his short-wave radio, because the local Italian radio stations only broadcast fascist propaganda .
As the war in Europe developed, Italy became weak from wartime economic hardships. By July 1943, the Allies were about to invade the mainland, and Mussolini had lost support among many of his people. Anna watched as Rome was bombarded by Allied planes.
TESTIMONY: “ALLIED BOMBINGS”
“Naturally, the Germans were the enemies, so the Allies were the friends.”
In late July, 1943, the people of Italy overthrew Mussolini and replaced the fascists with a new government. Though the new government promised to maintain the alliance with Nazi Germany, they secretly began to negotiate with the Allies . When the Allies landed on mainland Italy in September 1943, the Nazis ordered their German troops to seize the country. With the Nazis in control, Jews feared that deportations would begin.
One of Anna’s older brothers, Enzo, decided to cross the front lines and join the fighting on the side of the Allies . Her oldest brother, Amedeo, a young physician, decided to stay at the hospital where he worked. Anna’s father concluded that the rest of the family should leave Rome, and with the help of friends they found a place in the mountain village of Alvito, on the outskirts of the city.
TESTIMONY: “FROM BAD TO WORSE”
“Everybody, including my father, had to leave…”