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Rome Reports

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Roman doctor who saved dozens of Jews from the Nazis by inventing a disease

In 1943, dozens of Jews were hiding in this room in a Roman hospital. Today, it is still in use.

The Jews managed to survive Nazi raids thanks to Dr. Borromeo. He devised an ingenious ruse: convincing the German soldiers that the patients he cared for suffered from a terrible and contagious disease. 

It was syndrome K. That is, they invented an infectious disease, a very dangerous pandemic, so no one could enter the hospital. Therefore, they made it so that the Gestapo could never enter the hospital, could never inspect it, and could never take away the Jews who were kept here.

The hospital is located on the Tiber Island, next to the historic Jewish quarter.

The story of the Jews' survival emerged when Pope Francis allowed access to the Vatican archives in 2020. Upon learning of it, the current director of the hospital contacted the writer, Jesús Sánchez Adalid, and proposed a novel.

I received a letter from the director of the hospital, Brother Ángel López, in which he told me that there were some declassified documents from the pontificate of Pius XII, since Pope Francis had officially declassified the Vatican archives.
And that's where it all started. It was a fascinating journey through the documents and then I even found the relatives of the survivors.

Adalid says the title of his book, “A Light in the Night of Rome,” refers to the people who became a source of light for the Jews in the darkness of World War II.