Born Twice

30 images Created 13 Feb 2016

Once upon a time, there was a Jewish family in Rome. It was my Jewish family and it was broken by the Nazi.
But, I am fortunate enough to be able to tell this story because of the courage shown by my great grandpa Leone (Italo, for friends) Valabrega and his wife Anita di Capua. Had they not pushed their sons Ugo and Bruno (my grandpa) to flee their home in Rome for Naples where they crossed the enemy lines and started hiding from the Nazi, I may have never been born.
Had they not stayed, had they gone with their sons, they may have been alive today.
But, their innocence and trust in people made them stay. Never would they have thought the neighbors would have given them-up to the Nazi the way they did. They were deceived and it costs them their lives. They believed they were older and useless for "manual labor," but they were still gathered in the Ghetto together with 2,000 Roman Jews and put on a train to Poland for six days like animals on a carriage. Too bad, my great grandma was killed (gassed) upon arrival at the Camp because a woman over 50 years of age. Of Leone's death, there are no news instead, but we imagine a similar faith.

It was thanks to my grandfather's tales that we came to know his family's story and in his and their names back in 2011, I decided to find the holocaust survivors who were still alive in the Roman Jewish Ghetto. The photography project Born Twice is the a collection of 14 portraits of the remaining 2,000 Jews that were expelled and deported to the Nazi Camps back on October 16, 1943. Of the 14 I photographed then, only 9 are still alive today in 2016. Their memories and journeys back to life, their second chance, are precious as gold can be as well as incredibly courageous and sometimes even a bit serendipitous. These are the same people who were imprisoned with my great-grandparents and somehow photographing these survivors, makes me feel closer to my ancestors. So, this is for you bisnonno Leone e bisnonna Anita.

Lello di Segni
Mario Finzi
Shlomo Venezia
Milena Zarfati
Alberto Sed
Giuseppe di Porto
Davide Limentani
Ida Marcheria
Sami Modiano
Edit Bruch
Pucchio Mieli
Enrica Zarfati
Rosa Malel
Piero Terracina
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