“Whosoever saves a single life, saves an entire universe”
Mishnah, Sanhedrin 4:5
On January 23, 1975, the State of Israel honored Beatrice Rizzollio, Carlo and Maria Ravena and many others in Rome as “Righteous Among the Nations.” Not one to travel further than where she could return home to her own bed at night, Beatrice refused to attend the ceremony. She said many times to her granddaughter Giovanna Rizzolio, “I did it because it was the right thing to do, not for medals.” Beatrice considered her efforts to be “simple gestures of human solidarity.” At Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, there is a plaque in memory of those who risked their lives to save Jews during the madness of the Holocaust. Beatrice’s name is inscribed on it.
Beatrice Rizzolio, known as “Nonna Bice” by her loved ones, was truly a righteous woman. Her courageous acts not only saved many Jewish refugees, but also many Italian prisoners of war the Germans held under squalid conditions in the Caserma Govone in Alba.
“The Rescue Story” from the Yad Vashem archives.
Carlo Ravera, a decorated veteran of World War I and the maresciallo dei carabinieri in Alba, in Cuneo province, risked his life and career to save Jews, with the help of his wife, Maria. From the end of August 1942, 12 Jewish families, mainly refugees from Yugoslavia (mostly from Zagreb), were kept in Alba as civilian internees under restricted conditions. On December 2, 1943, Carlo Ravera received a telegram ordering him to send all the Jewish refugees in Alba to a concentration camp in Cuneo and hand them over to the Germans. As soon as he received the message, he told Beatrice Rizzolio, the owner of the local mill, to warn Elsa Grün, one of the refugees who had found shelter in the mill with her son and mother-in-law. He showed Grün the telegram and asked how much time did the Jews need in order to leave Alba. It was agreed that they would have to depart within 24 hours. Grün asked Ella Tandler, another refugee, to send her teenage daughter, Livia, as a messenger to all the Jews, so that they would know to leave at once. Livia did so, together with some other youngsters, rushing by bicycle from family to family. Thus the group, consisting of 18 persons, was saved. Carlo Ravera pretended to receive the order only after all the Jews were already gone.
On January 23, 1975, Yad Vashem recognized Carlo and Maria Ravera and Beatrice Rizzolio as Righteous Among the Nations.