Assemblyman Anthony D’Urso spoke at the Atria Cutter Mill in Great Neck about his experiences growing up in Formia, Italy during WWII and how his family saved a Jewish family from the Nazis.
“When I was five years old – I barely saw my father for almost a year. He wasn’t gone because he was fighting in the war. He was gone – because he was hiding his Jewish friends in the woods,” said Assemblyman D’Urso, “Nobody believed me when I told the story. Who in the world would believe that a farmer and his wife would risk their lives – and the lives of their children – and live in the woods for nine months while hiding a large Jewish family? It’s a crazy story.
“But, of course, the Holocaust is filled with crazy stories. That’s the biggest lesson of the Holocaust, of course. Right is right – even if nobody is doing it. And wrong is wrong – even if everybody is doing it.”
D’Urso immigrated to the United States at the age of 21 with only eight years of education. He said he brought the lessons of the Holocaust with him when he came to this country, as well as a strong sense of justice instilled by his parents.
D’Urso has embarked on 36 volunteer trips over the past decade. On those trips he helped to establish an orphanage for children devastated by the 2010 Haitian earthquake and worked in rural Nicaragua building houses, schools, community centers and water projects. On his travels to Kenya he built schools and provided children with food, uniforms and school supplies. Some residents of the Atria Cutter Mill came to speak with him afterwards to reminisce about their own experiences during WWII.
The visit was arranged by Atria resident Bernie Solow.