A 2,300km bi­cy­cle trip to raise Holo­caust aware­ness

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - BY ROSIE WHITEHOUSE

GIOVANNI BLOISI, a wiry 62-year-old from Varano Borghi, It­lay, had a broad grin on his face as he cy­cled up to the Shoah Memo­rial in Mi­lan, where he was about to bed down for the night.

On March 21, Mr Bloisi com­pleted the first day of a 2,360km bike ride to raise aware­ness of the Holo­caust in Italy.

The trip, which will take him via places of Jewish his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance, will end at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. He will cy­cle to Greece and take a ferry from there to Is­rael.

Mi­lan’s Shoah Memo­rial is sit­u­ated un­der­neath the city’s cen­tral sta­tion. From here over 2,000 Jews and po­lit­i­cal pris­on­ers were dis­patched to their deaths via the in­fa­mous Plat­form 21.

As trains rum­bled nosily over­head, Mr Bloisi spread out his sleep­ing bag close to cat­tle trucks like the ones that trans­ported the vic­tims to their deaths.

A life-long left-wing ac­tivist, Mr Bloisi is fo­cus­ing on the ex­tra­or­di­nary tale of 800 Jewish chil­dren who sur­vived the Holo­caust. From 1945-48, the chil­dren, who had been gath­ered up by the Jewish Bri­gade in Eastern Europe, were sent to the moun­tain vil­lage of Selvino, 70km north east of Mi­lan. Here they were cared for in a hol­i­day camp that had been built for the chil­dren of Italy’s fas­cist elite. From there, they were se­cretly dis­patched by boat to Pales­tine.

The home in Selvino was part of a post-war op­er­a­tion aimed at help­ing Holo­caust sur­vivors who poured into Italy af­ter the war. Those be­hind the or­gan­i­sa­tion in­cluded Mi­lan’s Jewish com­mu­nity, Ital­ian Par­ti­sans and rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Ha­ganah.

“When I dis­cov­ered the story of the chil­dren of Selvino, my heart went out to them. These were the most vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple in the world and their story has been al­most for­got­ten,” said Mr Bloisi, who will give talks to stu­dents through­out his trip.

Bloisi in Mi­lan

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