JCU Mourns Loss of Professor Emeritus Fiorenza Di Franco

It has been said countless times that we need to educate young people so that the tragedy of the Holocaust can never happen again. Yet, as a university professor, I am amazed at how little students know about contemporary history. As a direct witness to the tragic events of World War II, I am offering my story in the hopes of making a piece of history more accessible.                                          Fiorenza Di Franco

It is with deep regret that John Cabot University announces the recent passing of beloved Professor Emeritus of Theater and Italian Literature, Fiorenza Di Franco.

Unscathed by Fire by Fiorenza Di FrancoBorn in Hungary in 1932, Professor Di Franco joined JCU in 1976 and served on the faculty for many years. A leading world authority on Italian playwright Eduardo De Filippo (1900-1984), for some years she also held the position of Head Librarian. She held a Ph.D. from Case Western Reserve University and an M.L.S. from the Vatican International School of Library Science.

A survivor of German internment camps, Di Franco turned her experience during the war into a book, Una ragazzina e l’armistizio dell’8 settembre 1943 (Edizioni Associate, 2003), published in English in 2009 by John Cabot University Press as Unscathed by Fire: A Young Girl and the Italian Armistice of September 8, 1943.

Translated by JCU professor Berenice Cocciolillo, Unscathed by Fire: A Young Girl and the Italian Armistice of September 8, 1943, narrates, through the astonished eyes of a young girl, the vicissitudes that Di Franco and her family endured against the backdrop of war-torn Hungary. The title of the book refers to a critical moment during the war, when Italy signed an armistice with the Allied powers, ending the alliance with Germany. Fiorenza’s father, an Italian diplomat stationed in Hungary, refused to adhere to the Fascist Italian Social Republic and was arrested by the Gestapo. He was deported to Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria, where he was subject to the horrors of the Shoah with Jews and political prisoners like himself. In the meantime, Di Franco, her brother, and her Hungarian Jewish mother lived through a series of concentration camps, escapes, and periods of time in hiding.

“Fiorenza was a brave and free woman, an intellectual who never hesitated to speak her mind. She loved John Cabot University and we loved her back. On behalf of all of us here at JCU, I offer our most heartfelt condolences to Fiorenza’s daughter Olga and her family,” said John Cabot University President Franco Pavoncello.