New book tells story of young Italian police officer who saved five thousand Jews

On April 1, the Pontifical Lateran University presented the book, “Capuozzo, Indulge this Child: The Life of Giovanni Palatucci,” published by Saint Paul Editions. The new book tells the life of the heroic Italian police officer who saved five thousand Jews during World War II.

Written by Angelo Picariello, the book was presented by Msgr. Rino Fisichella, rector of the Pontifical Lateran University, who told the Fides news agency of his joy at learning about a man who “not only is on his way to sainthood, but also who was someone with an incredible sense of duty towards his country.”

Italy’s Chief of Police, Dr. Antonio Manganelli, shared his own experience of learning about the life of Patalucci some twenty years ago after reading the biography by Goffredo Raimo.

Normally, he said, we expect the actions of a hero to happen outside the context of ordinary life, but in the case of Patalucci, his heroism lasted seven years, “thus leaving a clear message to share with others,” Manganelli said.

Senator Giulio Andreotti, also present for the ceremony, said he hoped the story of Patalucci, which is relatively unknown, will soon be embraced and cherished by many.

His life

Giovanni Palatucci was born in Montella, Italy on May 31, 1909.  A devout Catholic, he graduated from law school at the University of Turin in 1932.  He left medical school to become a policeman.  When World War II broke out, Palatucci was in charge of the office of exterior affairs for the Italian region of Fiume. In his capacity as head of that office, he destroyed the records of some five thousand Jews and provided them with false documents.  He sent them to an internment camp in southern Italy under the protection of his uncle, Bishop Giuseppe Maria Palatucci of Campagna.

During the German occupation, he became chief of police in Fiume and continued helping Jews until he was discovered by the Gestapo.  He was arrested in September of 1944.  At first he was condemned to death but a few weeks later his sentence was changed and he was sent to the Nazi concentration camp at Dachau. Palatucci died in Dachau on February 10, 1945 at the age of 36. 

In 2002 his cause for beatification was opened.


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