JERUSALEM — Israel’s official Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem has named the World War II-era archbishop of Florence, Cardinal Elia Dalla Costa, as “Righteous Among the Nations” for his help in rescuing hundreds of Jews from Nazi persecution.
Yad Vashem said on Nov. 26 that the cardinal “played a central role in the organization and operation of a widespread rescue network.”
The Nazis began to deport Jews after the German occupation of Italy in September 1943. A major rescue effort in Florence was begun by the city’s Jewish leader, Rabbi Nathan Cassuto, and Jewish resistance fighter Raffaele Cantoni. The operation soon became a joint Jewish-Christian effort, with the cardinal offering guidance.
Cardinal Dalla Costa recruited rescuers among the clergy and supplied letters asking monasteries and convents to shelter Jews. He sheltered Jewish refugees in his own palace for short periods before they could be taken to safety.