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Israeli Righteous among Nations award to Tuscan women

Family sheltered, fed Jewish neighbours during World War Two

05 December, 15:16
Israeli Righteous among Nations award to Tuscan women (ANSA) - Florence, December 5 - A Florentine woman who hid and fed a fugitive Jewish family for a year during World War II was formally honoured Thursday with the Righteous Among Nations award from Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial organization.

Vittoria Valacchi, 98, working with her late aunt Elena Cecchini hid Elio and Clara Salmon and their three children in one of their farmhouses from 1943-1944, saving them from deportation and death in Nazi camps. Both Valacchi and her aunt were awarded with the honour.

Visibly moved during the ceremony at Florence's synagogue, Valacchi did not want to speak publicly but her nephew Alessandro read a message on her behalf.

The two families had been friends before the war, Paolo Salmon, one of the Jewish couple's three surviving children, recalled earlier.

The Cecchini family, whose home villa was alternately occupied by German troops and resistance fighters, risked their lives to personally bring food to their Jewish friends in hiding.

"We were also saved by the behavior of the local inhabitants, including the prior," said Salmon. "They all knew our situation, and they all kept silent".