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‘I Had Fun During the Holocaust’

Documentary airing tonight on PBS tells the incredible story of three Italian brothers who return to Italy to look for the cave where they hid during the war

Sophie Aroesty
July 24, 2017
Courtesy Tamar Tal Films
Courtesy Tamar Tal Films
Courtesy Tamar Tal Films
Courtesy Tamar Tal Films

“I had fun during the Holocaust” is a sentence you’ve probably never heard in your life. But that’s how Andrea Anati, an 82 year-old physicist and survivor, puts it. He didn’t spend the war years in ghettos or camps, but hiding out in a cave in Italy with his two brothers, Emmanuel and Bubi. Some 70 years later, the brothers journeyed from Israel to Italy to find that cave once more. Their search is the subject of a documentary called “Shalom Italia,” that has its national broadcast premiere tonight on PBS.

In the film, the three stumble through the Italian countryside, eating incredible food, touring a synagogue, and meeting long-lost friends, all while trying to find the obscure cave. The trip was actually spurned by the film: Bubi’s daughter-in-law is the famous Israeli filmmaker Tamar Tal Anati, who pushed her relatives to rediscover the place that ensured their survival.

“It’s human for our memories—personal or shared—to become a source of our identity,” Anati said in a press release. “Whether that memory comes from one ‘truth’ is explored by Bubi, Emmanuel and Andrea. Often it seems any particular moment can only be accurately constructed when everyone is involved, as each person’s particular recollection of an event helps piece together a larger mosaic of a shared experience. I hope Shalom Italia will inspire American audiences to reexamine their own stories and history.”

See the trailer for the film below:

Sophie Aroesty is an editorial intern at Tablet.