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Paolo Sadun was born on February 1, 1935, in Mantua, Italy. He was the son of Lelio and Elena (Finzi). Although Mantua was an important Jewish cultural center during the Italian Renaissance, its Jewish community numbered only 669 in 1931.
Prior to the anti-Jewish measures enacted by the Italian dictator, Mussolini, in November 1938, Jews had been fully integrated into Italian society and were found in nearly all professions. Antisemitism was not a major concern for Italy's Jews. But the new anti-Jewish measures seriously affected the Jews of Mantua, economically devastating them.
Like most Jews in Italy, Paolo and his family went into hiding after learning of the raids and deportations that took place after the German occupation in September 1943. They moved to Milan, whose non-Jewish population opened its churches, convents, hospitals and private homes to hide Jews.
Life was precarious during this period. Bands of fascist fanatics roamed the streets searching for Jews. They raided places of refuge, torturing and murdering their victims, many of whom were betrayed by informers.
Paolo and his family were arrested by the Germans on November 6, 1944. They were first held in a Milan prison, and then sent to the Bolzano concentration camp, which had been built by the Germans upon the occupation.
On December 14, 1944, Paolo, his mother, and his aunt were deported, not to the Auschwitz death camp in Poland, which was being evacuated, but to the Ravensbrueck concentration camp in Germany, whose prisoners were being starved to death.
No further trace of Paolo and his family has been found. Paolo was nine years old when he was last seen.