Italian Fisherman Who Saved Jews Dies at 87

Agostino Piazzesi Took Part in Dramatic 1944 Lake Rescue


Published August 31, 2012.
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A fisherman who took part in the dramatic rescue of about 30 Jews during World War II died this week.

Agostino Piazzesi, 87, was the last survivor of 15 fishermen who during the night of June 19-20, 1944 rescued the Jews, who were held by the Germans in a castle on Isola Maggiore in the middle of Lake Trasimeno in central Italy. Piazzesi rowed the Jews away from internment.

The dramatic story of the rescue came to light only a few years ago.

Using five small fishing boats, the fisherman took the Jews, who came from nearby Perugia, to a point on the lakeshore that was in the hands of the Allies; the island and the rest of the lake were under German control.

The local priest, the Rev. Ottavio Posta, organized the operation and took active part in the rescue. Last year Posta, who died in 1963, was honored as Righteous Among Nations by Yad Vashem and Piazzesi was knighted by the Italian government.

Men like Piazzesi “remain embedded in our hearts from generation to generation,” Riccardo Pacifici, the president of the Rome Jewish community, told JTA.

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