Gariwo: the gardens of the Righteous

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Giuseppe Sala 1886 - 1974

organized the rescue of the Jews with the Opera San Vincenzo

Giuseppe Sala in the 70's. (Credit to the Sala Family)

Giuseppe Sala in the 70's. (Credit to the Sala Family)

Giuseppe Sala practiced law in Milano. In his early youth he worked for the organization Azione Cattolica, later he was the president of the catholic Circle University of San Severino Boezio di Pavia and for 50 years served as president of the superior council of the Opera San Vincenzo, a secular benefit that helps the work of the clergy. He was a reserve officer during WWI and during WWII he was called upon by Cardinal Schuster to initiate a rescue effort for the antifascists, allied soldiers and Jews.

The cardinal provided buildings and money due to the fact he could not expose himself by acting directly. In the law office of Giuseppe Sala, on Borgonuovo Street, many people came to him in search of help. Sala found them shelter, organized expeditions to Switzerland, maintained contacts, a list of those rescued and expense reports for the cause.

One of the designated shelters was the Palazzolo Institute directed by Madre Donata and another was the Opera San Francesco of the Capuchin Friars of Piave Avenue in Milano, where Father Giannantonio operated.

He was arrested by the SS officer Otto Koch for favoring enemies of the Reich. He was incarcerated in the prison of San Vittore. Luckily, cardinal Schuster managed to clandestinely rescue him.

Also three of the five children of Giuseppe Sala, Giuseppe Jr., Enzo and Giancesari , collaborated in the resistance effort of rescuing the persecuted.

Elected adviser of the Municipality of Milan from ’46 to ’49, he became Councilor by '56. For a decade, he was president of the orphanages of Martinitt and Stelline and Pio Albergo Trivulzio. He increased the assets of the institution with the realization of a stable year.

He received numerous awards, among them the gold medal of merit from the Municipality of Milan and the provinces, alongside the gold medal of the Union of Italian Jews in 1955 for his previous aid. He was also awarded honors of the Italian State and from the Vatican.

Lover of the Milanese dialect, he modestly referred to all of these medals as “balunitt de savun” which translates to “soap bubbles.”