Alvito was a little village in the mountains near Monte Cassino. There was a famous monastery on Monte Cassino and because of its religious and historic significance the area seemed to be spared from attacks.
Shortly after their arrival in Alvito, Anna’s oldest brother rejoined the family. He made his way through the valley and up the mountains on an ox-cart. Anna learned that he had left his job in the hospital because German soldiers came to ask the administrators for doctors whose last names were Jewish. In Italy, Bondi is a very easily identifiable Jewish name.
During this time, the Bondi family kept their Judaism a secret. To avoid detection, Anna went to church regularly with friends she met in the village. Although she performed the Catholic rituals, she always remembered that she was a Jew.
TESTIMONY: “GOING TO CHURCH”
“I went with them to church. I did what they did.”
While the family tried to stay close to their home to preserve their safety, every once in a while Anna was sent to the village to get groceries for the family. She took her dog Diana with her for company. On one of these short trips down the hill, Anna had a terrifying encounter with a German soldier.
TESTIMONY: “I’LL NEVER FORGET“
I’ll never forget her face when I walked in the house with this nice fellow…”
After Anna’s frightening experience with the German soldier, the family became more cautious and concerned. Every night, Anna’s mother would cry herself to sleep. She was especially worried about her youngest son, wondering whether he was dead or alive.
The fighting in the area increased as the Allies were determined to capture Rome. Amidst the fighting, the famous monastery of Monte Cassino was entirely destroyed in Allied bombings, but Anna and her family were finally excited to see the Allies successfully push back the German front in Monte Cassino in May, 1944. By early June, 1944 the Allies marched into Rome. Anna met some of the Allied troops from New Zealand when they came through Alvito.
TESTIMONY: “A STRANGE SOUND”
“Hello, old friend. Hello, old friend!”