Monday 17 August 2015

Italian Holocaust Survivor Inspired Hit Film Life is Beautiful

"At Auschwitz, I was no longer Rubino Romeo Salmoni, but Jew number A15810, to be exterminated." (,,20509487,00.html)

In 1999, Roberto Benigni jumped on the back of a chair at the Kodak Theatre after he won the Academy award for Best Actor for the movie "Life is Beautiful".  His unrestrained joy was indicative of the real life counterpart of the character that he played, Rubino Romeo Salmoni, a survivor of the Auschwitz.

About 7,500 Italian Jews perished in the Holocaust during the Second World War.  Rubino Romeo Salmoni's two brothers were among them.  "At Auschwitz, I was no longer rubino Romeo Salmoni, but Jew number A15810, to be exterminated," explained the Italian.  However, Salmoni determined that he would not be another statistic in the "long journey toward death". 

While in the Nazi death camp, Salmoni used his imagination to help his family.  He sneaked in food for his son and made a "game" of their internment, saying that the first person who accumulated 1,000 points won the game.  Salmoni explained that if he cried or complained that he was hungry, he lost points.  However, if he remained quiet or hid from the guards, he gained points.  He made "life tolerable behind the barbed wire", something his son realized after their internment (

In the movie, Salmoni is shot dead by a guard shortly before the camp's liberation.  However, in real life, he not only survived, but thrived, going on to see the birth of many children and grandchildren. Salmoni documented his life in his book I Beat Hitler, adapted for the screen by Roberto Benigni.

Life Is Beautiful (1997) Poster

Life is Beautiful movie poster courtesy

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