Gemma Vitale Servadio, I am Counting on You, on Everyone… (CPL Editions, 2015)
Introduction by Mirella Bedarida Shapiro. With an essay by historian Marco Coslovich. Translated by Alta Price.
Speakers: Alessandro Cassin, Mirella Bedarida Shapiro and Marco Coslovich
Film screening: The Jews of Fossoli, by Ruggero Gabbai and Liliana Picciotto (excerpts)
Gemma Vitale Servadio was born in Turin in 1878 into a middle-class Jewish family. When the Racial Laws were enacted she had the choice of moving to Brazil, where her son Luchino was living, or to Tangier where her daughter Lucia and family had found refuge. Not wanting to leave her 87-year old mother, Nina, alone, she stayed behind and moved in with her.
In May 1944 Gemma and her mother were arrested in their home in Turin and sent to the Fossoli, the main internment camp in Italy. From there they were shipped in cattle cars to Auschwitz, where they were both murdered in the gas chambers upon their arrival, on June 30, 1944.
This book presents the eight letters written by Gemma Servadio from Fossoli that have come down to us, curated by her granddaughter Mirella Bedarida Shapiro, with a an essay by historian Marco Coslovich.
Gemma Vitale Servadio’s letters from Fossoli are not just historical documents, nor are they a mere testimony of a traumatic physical and psychological experience. A bare sequence of urgent requests and unexpressed fears, these pages stand as a tangible frontier between two women’s incomprheensible final moments and a life as they knew it.
About the speakers
Mirella Bedarida Shapiro, Gemma’s granddaughter, was born in Turin, Italy, in 1927. Both her parents were physicians. Her life was brutally disrupted in 1938 by the promulgation of the racial laws, when, as a consequence, her family had to emigrate to Tangier, Morocco. At the end of the war Mirella emigrated with her older sister to New York.
Marco Coslovich is a teacher, scholar and researcher of twentieth century history. He has published extensively on memory, Nazi concentration camps, Fascist anti-Jewish persecution and violence in totalitarian states. He is the Founder of Prospettive storiche, which together with the National Association of Former Deportees has created a video archive —L’ultimo appello— of interviews with men and women who survived deportation by the Fascist, Nazi and Communist regimes