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Saved By The K-Syndrome

Aryeh Deutsch and Rachel Ginsberg

British journalist and international espionage expert Gordon Thomas has a new story to write. He has discovered the secret of Dr. Vittorio Sacerdoti, an Italian physician who saved dozens of lives during World War II by diagnosing “K Syndrome” — sending the invading Nazis into a tailspin of fear over this dread disease.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

If you pride yourself on medical sophistication but have never heard of “K Syndrome,” it doesn’t mean you’re scientifically ignorant or know nothing about pathology. The world’s top doctors haven’t heard of it either.

“K Syndrome” was the “disease” invented by Italian physician Dr. Vittorio Sacerdoti that was responsible for the rescue of dozens of Rome’s Jews during World War II. Dr. Sacerdoti, the unsung hero of Rome’s Jewish ghetto, remained anonymous for decades, until he revealed his remarkable story to the BBC on the sixtieth anniversary of the liberation of Rome, in 2004.

And now British writer and journalist Gordon Thomas is going to write that story.

Thomas, a former political correspondent who has authored over fifty books, is best-known as an expert on international spy rings, including the Mossad. He lectures widely on the secret world of intelligence, and regularly provides expert analysis on intelligence for US and European television and radio programs. His book Gideon's Spies: Mossad’s Secret Warriors has been translated into sixteen languages.

When Thomas learned about Dr. Sacerdoti’s anonymous heroism, he was intrigued. “I first heard about Dr. Vittorio Sacerdoti from his niece Luciana — now seventy-six — who was a child when she was saved by her uncle from the Nazis,” Gordon Thomas tells Mishpacha. “I subsequently found a handful of other survivors, all children at the time, who corroborated the story.” Thomas has spent the last year uncovering some of the mystery of those dark days for Rome’s Jews; for although it’s not ancient history, there are not many witnesses to testify. Dr. Sacerdoti himself passed away in 2008; the few survivors of his heroism were just children at the time; and out of all the Jews deported to Auschwitz from Rome’s Jewish ghetto, only seventeen survived the war.

Who was Dr. Vittorio Sacerdoti? And what was the mysterious “K Syndrome” that saved the patients in his hospital?


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