No Act of Betrayal: A Book Presentation

Rossella Levi's Family History through World War II, the Resistance in Florence & Beyond.

Hosted at the Palazzi Community Center located at Via Ricasoli, 21, author Rossella Levi and translator Johanna Bishop alternated reading passages, in both Italian and English, from Rossella's book, No Act of Betrayal: My Family’s History through World War II, the Resistance in Florence and Beyond.

 

In her book, Rossella Levi contests the accusation that her father, Renato Levi, was a traitor. He was framed to be responsible for the Nazi discovery of the secret, Florence-based radio operation known as Radio CORA and the subsequent tortuous arrests. Guests, greeted with a drink upon entry, were transported back to the Florentine Resistance in 1944 to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the tragedy. Albert Gidari of Gidari Publishing set the stage for the event, opening for Rossella Levi and Johanna Bishop via video call.

 

“It's important to remember the things that gave rise to World War II, the Holocaust,” Albert Gidari said. “So much of what's in this book resonates today in our everyday lives.”

 

Thirty years following the events that occurred at Radio CORA, an article was published in the national publication, La Nazione. It claimed that Renato Levi was a traitor, and as a result, was shot by the allies. None of this information was true, but Renato chose not to respond to the absurd accusations. Rossella, however, wasn’t going to give up. Through preserved letters and documents in the archives, Rossella was able to reveal the truth about her father. Albert Gidari added, “[Rossella] pulled together the information, the facts in the story — both of the events of Radio CORA and her family — and those facts prove, unequivocally, that her father was a hero.”

 

Rossella scanned the room as she spoke — her voice confident, unwavering — looking not for approval, but understanding. Onlookers could try their best to empathize, but they would never truly feel her family’s pain. 

 

Just knowing the truth of her father’s story, though, would be a start.  

 

“My father was deeply wounded and didn't even want to deal with these completely groundless charges with a response, but [he] moved me to learn more about the story, conducting targeted research in the archives that made it possible to establish the truth and clear the good name and the memory of a man who had always lived in accordance with his values,” Rossella said. 

 

Stefan Gidari, the other half of Gidari Publishing, was physically present at the event and gave the closing remarks in English, and then again in Italian. Stefan emphasized the importance of sharing the true story of what happened to Radio CORA; specifically, with its proximity to FUA-AUF in mind.

 

“The Piazza d'Azeglio, where the radio was located, is five minutes away from here,” Stefan said. “You're right in the heart of the story, [so] imagine all that you were told back in time, in the same streets, in the same atmosphere.”

 

The presentation brought light to the events that, while they may seem somewhat removed, have a very clear correlation to our everyday lives. Rossella’s story is a beautiful testament to the way we can honor those who made wartime sacrifices — not just with their lives, but with their reputations. Through these stories, we can get a better understanding of the rich history that encompasses the Florentine culture loved by so many. In the end, Rossella proved that her father was a hero. He was eventually awarded with a silver medal for military valor and a letter of condemnation by the British at the end of the war. Renato Levi's truth prevails.

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