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Ex segheria della Romita

The ancient sawmill of the Romita.

The ancient sawmill of the Romita.

In the short story “La segheria abbandonata” (The Abandoned Sawmill), Rigoni Stern reconstructed a fine episode of human solidarity occurred in Canove between 1942 and 1943. At that time, fifty Jews were concentrated in that building, in the area of Romita, where there was the Lazzaretto at the time of the Plague and now there is a warehouse of building materials. Those people, from various European countries of origin, were transferred on the Plateau from Croatia, where they had sought refuge, in the months following the Italian occupation.

Little by little, avoiding the sergeant and ignoring the fascist officer,” Rigoni Stern wrote, “they became familiar with the families (…) They helped to saw wood for the winter, to gather potatoes, to guard the cattle grazing (…) In return for these services they had potatoes and milk.” In short, within a few months they were fully involved in the life of the village, and during the winter, instead of remaining in the inhospitable building, all were hosted by various families of Canove.

The coexistence abruptly ended after September 8, 1943, when all the Jews went away, knowing that they would be brutally swept away by the new Republic of Salò, ruled by the Germans. Nothing was heard of them for years, but after the war someone showed up to give his hosts news of himself, others went back to the village to greet and thank their “second family,” and still in 2013 some descendants of that group arrived from Tel Aviv to visit Canove and the villagers who had saved their relatives.

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