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Rabbi Nathan Cassuto officiates at a funeral in Florence.

Photograph | Digitized | Photograph Number: 44142

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    Rabbi Nathan Cassuto officiates at a funeral in Florence.
    Rabbi Nathan Cassuto officiates at a funeral in Florence.


    Rabbi Nathan Cassuto officiates at a funeral in Florence.
    Florence, [Tuscany] Italy
    Variant Locale
    Photo Credit
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of David Cassuto

    Rights & Restrictions

    Photo Source
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Provenance: David Cassuto

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    David Moshe Cassuto is the son of Rabbi Dr. Nathan Cassuto and Anna DiGioacchino Cassuto. He was born September 27, 1937 in Florence, Italy. His older sister Susanna was born on May 8, 1936, and his younger brother Daniel was born on July 1, 1941. Nathan (born October 11, 1909) attended medical school and rabbinical college simultaneously. Anna (born 1914) worked as an English teacher. Although Nathan's parents and some of his siblings immigrated to Palestine in 1939, Nathan and his married sister, Hulda, were unable to obtain certificates to accompany them. Nathan gained early fame as a doctor and was even offered a fellowship at the Rockefeller Institute in New York. However, the enactment of Italian racial laws curtailed his career. He was denied a passport to travel and forbidden to practice medicine to non-Jews. As a result, Nathan left medicine to work full time as a rabbi. He accepted a rabbinic pulpit in Milan where he, Anna, and their children shared an apartment with Hulda and her husband, Shaul Campagnano, and their children Sara (born 1940) and Reuven (born 1942). In 1943 Nathan was appointed Chief Rabbi of Florence. Hulda and Shaul also later moved to Florence and lived nearby. In July 1943 Mussolini was overthrown. However, Germany then reinstated him in September and the position of Italy's Jews, who for the first time were under direct German rule, became more dangerous than before. Nathan worked with the underground urging Jews to flee and helping to find them hiding places. He also assisted Jewish refugees who were passing through Florence on their way south, providing them with money, food, shelter, and false papers. Shaul assisted him in an unofficial capacity, and the two brothers-in-law shared apartments as they moved around within Florence. Anna, who was in her third trimester of her fourth pregnancy, Hulda, and their children rented rooms in the Convento della Calza. They pretended to be a family from northern Italy escaping the war. Anna gave birth to Eva in October 1943. While working for the secret Jewish committee, Nathan was arrested on November 26, 1943 along with other committee members. Shaul came to tell Hulda the news in the convent. Hulda realized they could not remain in the convent. Shaul moved them out by bicycle in the middle of the night to new temporary hiding places. Anna and Shaul learned they could receive information on how to rescue Nathan, only to be caught themselves three days later on November 29, 1943. Nathan was first sent to prison in Florence and then to the San Vitorre prison in Milan. After her arrest, Anna joined her husband in prison and together they were transported to Auschwitz on January 30 1944. Shaul was sent on an earlier transport to Auschwitz; he perished in Monowitz. Nathan survived Auschwitz and was sent on a death march to Gross Rosen where he was murdered by the Nazis in February 1945. Following the November arrests, Nathan's sister Hulda was left to care for the six children. She realized she needed to find new, safer hiding places for them. She placed David with the Colzi family who had a son, Piero, who was approximately David's age. Daniel hid with Mario and Lina Santerini family; he called them aunt and uncle, but they treated him like their own son. She hired a woman in a small town outside Florence to be a wet nurse for the baby Eva. Unfortunately, Eva died a few months later at the age of four months from a lung infection; Mario Santerini attended to the funeral arrangements. Hulda hid her youngest child, Reuven with a middle-aged couple, Amato and Letizia Billour, who treated the toddler like their own son. Susanna and Sara were placed in a convent orphanage outside of Florence. Hulda also lived there, as a paid guest, until one night in February when she was warned that Fascists knew there were Jews hiding in the convent. Hulda moved out and spent the rest of the war in different locations throughout Florence. Following liberation, she moved to Palestine with her two children to reunite with her parents. There, she received a telegram from Anna telling her she had survived internment in Auschwitz and transfer to Theresienstadt. After first recuperating in Triest, Anna hitchhiked back to Florence in 1946 to reunite with her children. Shortly thereafter, they too immigrated to Palestine. Anna worked as a lab technician at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem only to be killed in an attack on a convoy to the hospital during Israel's War of Independence.
    Record last modified:
    2002-08-16 00:00:00
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