Why would someone risk his own life and put his family in jeopardy to ‘do the right thing’ and protect the life of another person, a stranger?
DON’T TALK ABOUT IT introduces four characters whose personal stories reflect the larger, untold saga of Italians who saved Jews and other refugees fleeing the Nazis in World War II. It also introduces Gino Bartali, the charismatic Italian sports idol and Tour de France cycling champion, whose role in this history was never revealed in his lifetime. The film’s four living characters were children in Italy under Fascism; each survived World War II thanks to Italians like Bartali, willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to help strangers escape Nazi persecution.
The story of Bartali and the secret underground network he worked with stands in for the stories of thousands of Italians who risked their own lives to save others from capture and death. As almost the entire continent was engulfed in a genocide, which took the lives of most Jews in Nazi occupied Europe (nearly 6 million people), more than 80% of Italy’s Jews survived. Bartali, like many of the rescuers, never sought recognition or reward. Few of those he helped knew his name or what role he played in their rescue. Bartali is a cycling legend, but his most daring triumph came when he risked his life over and over transporting fake identify documents in the frame of his bike for a secret underground working to save Jews threatened by Nazi extermination.
On September 23rd 2013, Gino Bartali was honored by by Yad Vashem as Righteous Among the Nations, seventy years after his courageous activities and thirteen years after his death. The cycling champion was praised for his role in a rescue network, spearheaded by the Rabbi and Archbishop of Florence following the German occupation of Italy, that saved hundreds of local Jews and Jewish refugees.