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13 May1962
The Meeting
Famiglia Sinigaglia
Music by Guglielmo Pagnozzi

People smiling in front of the 8mm film camera to recall a moment spent together. But this meeting filmed in Piazza Maggiore in Bologna on 13 May 1962 is only apparently a meeting like many others. There is a distinguished gentleman with a moustache, perhaps a visitor from afar, who is familiar with a local family. He is a former British officer, David Whyte. And now he is with the Sinigaglia family: Giorgio, the filmmaker of about 35 years; his father and mother, Attilio and Lina Levi, the elderly couple of the group; Giorgio's wife with their daughter, little Paola. For a single time and almost twenty years later, the former soldier meets Attilio, Livia and Giorgio, whom he had helped escape to Switzerland in 1943. An escape favoured by the National Liberation Committee of Modena, since the Sinigaglia Jews, after a denunciation, were in grave danger from Nazi-Fascist persecution.

Originally from Venice, the Sinigaglia family had moved to Bologna in the 1930s, following the expansion of their business as fabric sellers. They returned there, after a one-and-a-half year period as refugees, at the end of the war, to start a peaceful life again in republican Italy, and met the officer who had helped them. Before portraying themselves in front of the Neptune as per tourist practice, the group films themselves in front of a symbolic place, the Partisans' Memorial. In 1943, the then 15-year-old Giorgio had kept a diary. This is how he begins his account of the escape, marked by the fear of being discovered: "On 22 November we decide to go to Switzerland. On 23 November we made preparations and at 9pm we left Modena, we were accompanied by three British officers, at 2am on 24 November we arrived in Milan, here there was a state of emergency, at 5am after three hours at the station we left". Giorgio then continues the story up to the 'dramatic march' to cross the border unharmed. It is still Giorgio twenty years later who holds the camera, it is he who keeps the memory of the Sinigaglias and of our history.