Italian Jews and Holocaust survivors are providing help to people hit by last week's devastating earthquake in the Abruzzo region. Around 20 elderly survivors as well as Jewish community leaders visited the area on Monday in search of people who hid Jews during World War from the Nazi and fascist persecution. "I wouldn't be here if it were not for these people," Alberto Di Consiglio, whose parents were sheltered in the small hamlet of Fossa during the war, was quoted as saying by the news agency AP. "We have to help them."
More than 100 tent cities have been built around L'Aquila and the towns and villages affected by the earth quake, which struck on 6 April, killed 294 people and displaced 55,000. Jews who had been sheltered in the area during the war lost touch with their one-time saviors. At least five Jewish families, including around 30 people, took shelter in the small mountainside hamlets of Fossa and Casentino between mid-1943 until the arrival of the Allies a year later, survivors said. In one tent, Di Consiglio managed to find Nello De Bernardinis, the son of the couple who sheltered Di Consiglio's father and eight other relatives during the war. "It was a great emotion, it is so painful that such righteous people should suffer like this and live in a tent," Di Consiglio said.