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A streetcar of salvation

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  • Member since
    June 2002
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A streetcar of salvation
Posted by daveklepper on Sunday, January 31, 2021 3:38 PM

Edited from The Times of Israel

89-year-old Emanuele Di Porto was 12 when the Nazis entered the Rome ghetto and arrested him along with his mother.

“My father traded souvenirs. He got up at 3 a.m. and went to the Termini railway station to sell items to German soldiers returning from the front.  On Saturday, October 16, he went out early in the morning. My brothers and I were alone at home. At 5:00 a.m. my mother heard noises, and looked out the window and saw the Nazis rounding people up in the streets of the ghetto. Thinking that the SS only wanted to capture the men, my mother went to my father at the railway station to warn him of what was happening.”

Di Porto’s father told his wife to go home and take the children to her sister, who lived in another district. He would be waiting for them there.

“I was at the window and saw my mother being captured by a soldier and loaded onto a truck.  I started screaming and went out onto the street. My mother, seeing me arrive, motioned me to leave but the Germans took me and threw me on the truck. Somehow my mother managed to get me off, and I walked without turning around. I was dying of fear.”

Di Porto came to a square with streetcars, and boarded one that circled the city. He told the conductor that he was Jewish and what happened, the  operator sat him next to him ay the front.


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“It was six in the morning and it was raining.     He gave me half of his snack. At 2:00 there was the shift change, and the controller told the colleague replacing him to ‘look after this kid.’ The next shift colleague did the same thing. So I stayed on the tram for two days, sleeping and eating in the carriage. In the morning, in the depot, the drivers noticed my presence but no one told me to leave.”

Two days later, a friend of the Di Portos, also a ghetto resident boarded the tram.

“He told me that my father was convinced I had been captured together with my mother.  At that moment my father was near San Pietro, in Vatican City. I joined him and found my relatives. From October 1943 to June 4, 1944, the day of Rome’s liberation, we stayed in our house in the ghetto without realizing the danger we were facing. My mother, deported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, was immediately killed in the gas chamber at the age of 37.”

Emanuele was both by his mother and then by the the tram operators.

“My mother brought me into the world twice.  First when she gave birth to me and then when she got me off of that truck.”

 

  • Member since
    January 2019
  • From: Henrico, VA
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Posted by Flintlock76 on Monday, February 1, 2021 11:48 AM

Thanks David.  A good, sad story.

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