Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Gastone Orefice

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:14 - History of Jews in Italy

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Partial Transcript: So I think, um, what we all would like you to talk about is what your situation was before the war, a little family background.

Segment Synopsis: Gastone Orefice describes Jewish history in Italy starting 300 years before Christ. He shares about a history of systematic anti-Semitism until Jewish citizens received full citizenship in the 19th century.

Keywords: Anti-Semitism; Catholicism; Christianity; Citizenship; Italian heritage; Italian history; Italy; Jewish history; Religion; Rome; Views on religion

Subjects: Judaism; Religion

00:08:32 - Italian Jews before the war / life and family before war

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Partial Transcript: So, oh, before the war, how many Jews were there approximately in Italy?

Segment Synopsis: Orefice explains the treatment of Jewish individuals before World War II. He shares about his life and his family's life prior to the establishment of anti-Semitic policies in Italy.

Keywords: Family background; Higher education; Italian citizens; Jewish children; Jewish families; Nationality; Social classes; War

Subjects: World War, 1939-1945; World War, 1939-1945--Personal narratives

GPS: Livorno (Italy)
Map Coordinates: 43.55, 10.316667
00:14:37 - Change in Italy's attitude toward Jews

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Partial Transcript: So when did things start to change?

Segment Synopsis: Orefice tells about changes that occur after the release of an anti-Semitic manifesto and passing of anti-Semitic policies. He describes his family's struggles during these times, such as loss of their jobs and being banned from public schools.

Keywords: Aiding Jewish individuals; Anti-Semitism; Deportation; Education; Employment discrimination; Family background; Isolation; National Youth Games

Subjects: Discrimination; Jewish families; World War, 1939-1945--Personal narratives

GPS: Rome (Italy)
Map Coordinates: 41.9, 12.5
00:20:11 - Father's arrest / attempts to leave Italy

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Partial Transcript: We did, uh, survive, uh, with difficulties, but not with, uh, danger. Not physical danger.

Segment Synopsis: Orefice shares about difficulties his family faced when trying to leave Italy. He speaks about his father's arrest in France during German occupation. He explains how they hid in a convent for priests when they were unable to leave Italy.

Keywords: Bombings; Catholic Church; Convents; German occupation; Immigration from Italy; Survival

Subjects: Jewish children; Jewish families; World War, 1939-1945--Personal narratives

GPS: Florence (Italy)
Map Coordinates: 43.783333, 11.25
00:24:21 - Italians willing to aid Jewish individuals

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Partial Transcript: Now were Jews required to wear yellow stars then?

Segment Synopsis: Orefice describes statistics of how many Jewish individuals were deported during World War II. He explains how despite national policies discriminating against the Jewish community, Italians would individually aid Jewish citizens.

Keywords: Aid for Italian Jews; Anti-Semitism; Drafts; Italian army; Italian citizens; Italian diplomats; Switzerland

Subjects: Jewish families; World War, 1939-1945--Personal narratives

00:31:56 - Catholic Church's aid to Jewish individuals

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Partial Transcript: I don't remember exactly where we were.

Segment Synopsis: Orefice explains how Catholic Church leaders were involved in aiding Jewish individuals during the war.

Keywords: Aid for Jewish individuals; Catholic church; Catholicism; Convents; Italian citizens; Priests; Views on religion

Subjects: Judaism; Religion

00:37:03 - Escaping arrest / trouble accepting Jewish identity / secret meeting of Jewish youth

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Partial Transcript: I was saved by my brother when moving from Florence to, to, to Nocia where my parents were.

Segment Synopsis: Orefice describes a time when he and his brother were almost arrested. He explains how they were able to avoid arrest. He shares about when Jewish youth would meet secretly in order to understand their Jewish identity. He discusses his personal struggle understanding his own identity as an Italian citizen and a Jewish man.

Keywords: Arrests; Catholicism; Forged papers; German occupation; German soldiers; Italian citizens; Jewish heritage; Jewish youth; Personal identity; Views on religion

Subjects: Judaism; Religion; World War, 1939-1945--Personal narratives

GPS: Arezzo (Italy)
Map Coordinates: 43.473333, 11.87
00:41:40 - Studying religion in secret groups / deciding to remain in Italy

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Partial Transcript: Finally, we had--we started studying about, uh, Judaism.

Segment Synopsis: Orefice describes a study session the secret group had which focused on various religions, including Judaism and Catholicism. He explains a debate within the group about whether they should move to Pakistan or remain in Italy.

Keywords: Catholicism; Christianity; Counterculture; Hiding from German soldiers; Immigration; Italian law; Jewish law; Palestine; Views on religion

Subjects: Jewish children; Jewish families; World War, 1939-1945--Personal narratives

00:46:25 - Aiding the resistance in Italy / end of the war

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Partial Transcript: And did you ever think of joining the resistance?

Segment Synopsis: Orefice explains how he became involved with the Italian resistance during World War II. He discusses people's reaction to the end of the war, and what he did after the war was over.

Keywords: Anti-Semitism in Italy; Bombings; Careers; End of war; German soldiers; Italian radio; Italian resistance; Italian soldiers

Subjects: World War, 1939-1945--Personal narratives

GPS: Livorno (Italy)
Map Coordinates: 43.55, 10.316667
00:51:06 - Different countries' treatment of Jews / employment after war

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Partial Transcript: I've read a lot about different countries, what--like, uh, Denmark--

Segment Synopsis: Orefice and the interviewer discuss various kinds of anti-Semitism in countries throughout Europe and the United States. He highlights his career history after the war.

Keywords: Anti-Semitism in Europe; Career history; Christianity; Italian media; Jewish heritage

Subjects: Discrimination; Judaism--20th century; Religion

00:56:24 - Family and career history

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Partial Transcript: In October we got married, because she was alone--

Segment Synopsis: Orefice shares about meeting his wife and their marriage after the war ended. He describes more about his career history and his family. He remembers all the different countries he has lived in.

Keywords: Brussels; Career history; Children; Committees; Family; Grandchildren; Italian media; Marriage; Morocco; Moving; New York (N.Y.); Newspaper; Television

Subjects: Jewish families; Travel

GPS: Livorno (Italy)
Map Coordinates: 43.55, 10.316667