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Skirmishes on Lake Ladoga – From Venice to Rome escaping the Racial Laws, Roberto Bassi

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Author : Roberto Bassi

Title : Skirmishes on Lake Ladoga. With an introduction by Daniel Mendelsohn

Subtitle : From Venice to Rome escaping the Racial Laws

Translator : Jeremy Scott

Year : 2014

Series : Memoris and Biographies

SKU: 13-3 Category:


“Every morning in the kitchen I used to read – and comment upon – war bulletins for my grandmother. When everything was quiet, it said that there had been “skirmishes on Lake Ladoga”. The word ‘skirmish’ and the name of that far distant lake must have made a particular impression upon me. I can still see myself sitting there at our wooden kitchen table as I read them out of the newspaper.”

These are the anguish, fears and tribulations of a middle class Jewish family in Venice during Fascism and their flight to the Capital right after the massive Nazi roundup of the Jews of Rome, seen through the eyes of a child.

“The ghosts of my uncles and my cousins, my  friends and classmates, little Sara G., all killed by the Fascists and the Nazis, have populated my childhood and youth and conditioned my whole life” writes Roberto Bassi, a professor of Dermatology, former president of the Jewish Community in Venice and founder of  CDEC (Center for Contemporary Jewish Documentation) in this riveting memoir that covers his early childhood in 1930’s Venice,  up to the liberation of Rome in June 1944.

Against the backdrop of war-torn Italy we follow one of the many  stories of daily terror, uncertainty and loss of those who survived the systematic attempt to to wipe out European Jewry. At once personal and finely nuanced, Bassi’s story is emblematic of the experience and need to bear witness of those whose life was forever shattered by the Nazi Fascist persecution.


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