1897 - 1994
Guelfo Zamboni was a career diplomat well accepted in the bureaucratic framework of the Fascist State.
In February 1942 he was sent to Greece to manage the Consulate General in Salonika, in the area occupied by the German ally.
Indignant but powerless, he witnessed the persecution and humiliations of all kinds that the Nazis meted out to Salonika’s Jews in the run-up to their deportation to Poland and ultimately to Auschwitz.
At that point he decided to issue the greatest possible number of Italian citizenship papers to the Jews; these certificates guaranteed safe conduct and allowed the refugees to find shelter in the area controlled by the Italians.
The game he played was not an easy one and came up against the ferocious hostility of the Germans, but Italy’s Consul General refused to be intimidated, on the contrary, he made every effort to expand the concept of “Italian nationality” with the magic formula of “provisional certificates”, issued while the rights of the applicants were being ascertained.
In this way the Salonika consulate successfully rescued not only Italian, but also Greek Jews – all in all over three hundred Salonika residents – from certain death.
Zamboni found himself face to face with the dilemma that affected the whole of Europe in those years: looking the other way, not getting involved and staying safe, or listening to the voice of his conscience and, fired by indignation, find a way of standing up to repression.
He chose the latter alternative.
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