From the testimony of Mirjam Zidon (Schoen)
Mirjam Zidon’s family had fled from their native Yugoslavia to Italy. Mirjam was 11 years old when she came to Assisi
“The underground people brought us to Assisi. First we stayed near the railway station in Santa Maria degli Angeli. We were in a hotel, not far from the train station. We had forged papers. The only three people in Assisi who knew our true identity were the priest, who is a Righteous Among the Nations – Padre Rufino Nicacci; the second person is the bishop who resided in the Assisi Basilica; the third was a man by the name of Brizi, who was the greatest forger in the area…. He forged papers for pilots who were shot down in the area, for escaped POWs – not only for Jews, but also for Jews. He was a first rate forger. He forged food ration cards and everything necessary. These three people knew.
My dad continued to listen to the BBC on radio also in Assisi.
One day they came to the hotel. They called father and told him: the people in the hotel are Fascists, we fear that they will discover your true identity. This was in 1943, when the hunt for all the Jews was going on. They found an apartment for us in Assisi, in the part that was beyond the city walls. Assisi is a small medieval town, surrounded by a wall, and situated in a rural area.
This is where my childhood really began, if one may say so. We came to a place – and I am very moved as I say this – which housed three families. We are in touch with one of these families until this very day. They did not know who we were. For them we were refugees from the Fiuma area. But they became friends with my parents, and we, the children, were of the same age. This was a really happy time. And the worst part is that while the entire world was collapsing and such terrible things happened, I was a free child. It was good and pleasant, and I had friends to play with. Only later, after I came to Israel, did I grasp what had happened to so many children of my age. We had a nice house with a vineyard, with chestnut trees, and we would go to the woods and pick berries. And all this was going on while no one was left from my family. I had a very hard time later even remembering this. I always thought how could I have lived normally while all these things were happening.
I assume that my parents were in a very tense situation, because the searches were very intensive. It was known that Jews were hiding in monasteries in Assisi. The Germans knew and there were many informers. The hiding Jews were moved from time to time….
At that time some one hundred people arrived – a very large group of people who sought shelter. My father knew Padre Rufino, and was in contact with him. He arranged for them to go to a convent with nuns, right into the clausura – a place which was closed even to the priests. Whole families lived there; children were born in the convent. There were many problems….”
Yad Vashem Archives, O.3/10395