By Pagine Ebraiche staff*
This spring journey, for which Mr. Bloisi is intensively training, is dedicated to a proper symbol of the Aliyah Bet, Captain Enrico Levi, in the occasion of celebrating 100 years from his birth. Among the supporters of this journey there are the ANPI provincial committees of Milan, Varese, Padua, UCEI, Padua’s Jewish Community, the Italian “Italia-Israele” association in Milan and the “Children of the Shoah” Association. Moreover, there’s the preparatory work of the historian Marco Cavallarin.
The journey will track down what happened in Padua on September 10, 1943.
Enrico Levi was born in Cremona on April 6, 1918. He attended the “Sebastiano Venier” school of maritime navigation in Venice and he was the only Jewish cadet among the Italian fleet when he was expelled out of it because of the 1938 racial laws. He was forced to do a compulsory labour.
He then took part in the activities supporting the Jewish refugees in Oriciano (Pisa), Milan and Genoa. He also assisted the landing of the Allies in Anzio and the resistance in southern France.
Enrico Levi left from Padua together with five friends to reach the Allied troops going to northern Italy from Apulia. He and his friends crossed the enemy lines many times to complete their mission of resistance and organisation of the Aliyah Bet. It was him who sailed on the August 21, 1945 with the old Dallin fishing vessel from Bari, bringing 37 people to the future state of Israel, and that was the first of the 34 crossings he planned by himself, all of which succeeded.
Once the Aliyah Bet was completed, Levi became the director of the Akko Naval Academy, to which development he contributed from the very beginning. He taught at the Haifa Technion’s Military School. He directed the port of Eliat and Ashdod.
“I stayed in Switzerland up until July 1943, that was when I decided to come back to Italy for the summer vacation. Of course everyone advised against it and they were not wrong: on September 8, Germany declared war on Italy and I chose to contribute with Italy’s liberation from the Fascists and the Germans by joining the Allied force” stated Vittorio Sacerdoti, one of the heroic young boys at the side of Levi.
The complete itinerary of the mission has been rebuilt thanks to his journal. “On September 19 – he added – I hopped on a bike and rode to the south to reach the Allies. Once I got to Ripabottoni (Campobasso), I understood that the border was getting closer than it already looked. I was taken hostage by the Germans in this town due to a food shipment failure. I was thrown up against the wall, but I managed to run away by some miracle.”
A runaway for freedom, a memory evoked not only by Mr. Bloisi’s journey, but through meetings with administrations, citizens and schools.
*Translated by Simone Simonazzi, student at the Advanced School for Interpreters and Translators of Trieste University, intern at the newspaper office of the Union of the Italian Jewish Communities.