Italian Cyclist Gino Bartali Risked Everything to Rescue Jews During WWII

The cycling champion turned wartime hero saved about 800 people during the Nazi occupation.


The following article, written by David Leveille, appears on Public Radio International (PRI)

Riders race across the island of Sicily, cross over to the mainland and then follow Italy’s boot from the heel to the top.

Eighty years ago, an Italian named Gino Bartali won the race. In all, the renowned cyclist won the Giro d’Italia three times (1936, 1937 and 1946) and the Tour de France twice (1938 and 1948). Those victories alone place him in the international pantheon of great cyclists.

One of the great cycling races, the Giro d’Italia, or Tour of Italy, concludes its 100th edition on Sunday in Milan.

But there’s another story about the Italian cyclist well worth knowing.

Bartali risked his own life during the Holocaust to rescue as many as 800 Italian Jews from the Nazis.

“He smuggled documents in the frame of his bike, thinking that if he would be stopped by the Nazis, he would tell them that nobody should touch his bike because it was set up perfectly for racing, it shouldn’t be tinkered with,” says Jonathan Freedman, an avid cyclist who has researched Gino Bartali’s story.

“So, he was able to use his training to move around the country in ways that others couldn’t because movement was generally restricted and under suspicion.” Continue reading at Public Radio International (PRI). 

(via Cycling Academy Team)

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