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A Mother's Deathbed Wish

Named Righteous Among the Nations for caring for her dying employer's children during the Holocaust; seen here after the war with the children and the Jewish Brigade soldiers who took them to their new home in the Holy Land (Photo: Yad Vashem)

Ida Brunelli-Lenti

Why you should know her: Ida Brunelli-Lenti was a young Italian babysitter who promised to care for her dying Jewish employer's children during the Holocaust.

At the age of 15, young Ida Brunelli found work in Tuscany as a babysitter for the children of Yuzzi Galambos, a beautiful Jewish dancer. Yuzzi, however, was all alone. Her Hungarian husband had been sent out of Italy and been forced into service with the Hungarian military. The last she heard of him, he fell ill and was hospitalized. Raising three children in a small apartment with no running water, Yuzzi hid the family's Jewish identity, for fear of the local Fascists. She didn't even tell Ida, her beloved babysitter.

However, as the Nazis overtook Italy in 1943, Yuzzi died from a heart condition. On her deathbed, she confessed her Jewish identity to Ida and asked that she care for her children, only 9, 12, and 13. Despite having no income, young Ida promised she would care for Yuzzi's orphaned youngsters. She took them to her mother's home in northern Italy. Saying only that the children were Hungarian refugees, Ida found shelter for them in local Christian institutions. She visited them regularly and provided all the support she could.

Once the war was over, Ida got in touch with soldiers from the Jewish Brigade who were searching for Italy's Jewish war orphans. At first hesitant to give up these children she had cared for, Ida soon trusted the soldiers and saw the Galambos family off as they set sail for the Holy Land. Ida married late in life and never had children of her own, but was named Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem in 1993 for the love she showed three Jewish orphans in their time of need.

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