A CUNY TV presentation: "The Island of Roses, A Tragedy in a Paradise," a film by Rebecca Samonà (2008)

From 30 to 30 of January, 2015
( 03:00 am - 04:00 am )

A CUNY TV presentation: "The Island of Roses, A Tragedy in a Paradise," a film by Rebecca Samonà (2008)

NB: This is a CUNY TV broadcast. We thank Robert Isaacson for finding time in CUNY TV's schedule to share this film with greater New York.

On July 23, 1944, nearly 2,000 members of the century old Rhodes Jewish community, at the time an Italian possession and part of the Italian Social Republic, were rounded up and sent to Auschwitz. Theirs, was the longest deportation in Europe lasting 24 days. 

Few hours after their arrival, most of the community had been murdered. The Jews of Rhodes were part of the Union of the Italian Jewish Community and had been subject to the application of the Racial Laws in 1938. After the Italian surrender to the Germans in the Fall of 1943, the civil administration remained in Italian hands. For 70 years the circumstance of their round up and deportation were mainly known through the testimonies of a handful of survivors. Today, thanks to the finding of the Carabinieri archive, their history can be written with a better understanding of how, almost at the end of the war, a small community, mostly of women, children and elderly, was transported to death from the farthest corner of the Mediterranean sea.

The Island of Roses, A Tragedy in a Paradise, by Rebecca Samonà, 2008 (Italian with English subtitles). Produced by L'Altravista. Presented in collaboration with Centro Primo Levi NY, the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute, and CUNY TV.

Through the memories of her mother Erminia Licitri, and Stella Levi a family friend who survived the deportation, the author reconstructs the life and annihilation of the Jews of Rhodes from the beginning of the Italian colonization in 1912, to the deportation to Auschwitz in July 1944. Combining era footage with a delicate personal commentary L'Isola delle Rose offers a glimpse into a centuries-old culture which a handful of survivors infused it into a younger generation that is today scattered around the world. The narrative unfolds along the author's grandparents' love story, Victoria, from an old local Jewish family and Ernesto, a Sicilian army officer stationed on the island. In spite of the initial parental opposition, the couple gets married but their lives are soon after turned apart by the racial persecution and the war. 

Broadcast dates and times are: Thursday, January 29 at 9:00 AM, 3:00 PM and 9:00 PM, with an overnight repeat showing on Friday morning, January 30, at 3:00 AM.

Calandra Italian American Institute