Giulia Galletti Stiffoni

her cunning and charm save the lives of Mrs. Weiss and other fugitives during one of the periodic fascist searches

Giulia Galletti Stiffoni lives with her family in Venice, she is a woman apparently like many others, but she decides to welcome and protect Jews and fugitives during the Second World War, thus risking every day for her life. Giulia's family is composed of a husband and 4 children who in 1944 were aged from 10 to 18 months.

The daughter, Caterina, was only seven years old at the time but has a vivid memory of the events of those years, which then became part of the wealth of stories handed down in the family. 

During the summer of 1944, as usual, the Galletti Stiffoni family moved from Venice to reach the house in the hills, in Possagno del Grappa, in an attempt to improve their mother Giulia's asthma. Unlike the previous summers, in those months the house was more lively than usual: the family in fact began to help Jewish fugitives and partisans. Caterina, in a statement released in Gariwo in 2019, recalls episodes of people hiding in cisterns, hay and woods.

The stay in the house on the hills did not last long due to the unexpected retreat of the Germans to the east, they so returned to the house in Venice. Here one of the most significant meetings for Caterina happened, starring Mrs. Weiss, a Jew who fled from Vienna, and her mother Giulia Galletti Stiffoni. Mrs. Weiss spoke perfectly Italian, but she had arrived at the house in Venice so frightened and exhausted by the long journey in stages that for the first few hours she had not spoken a word. Over time, Caterina, like her mother, began to grow fond of "Aunt Weiss": the little girl saw her quietly participate in domestic life, she slept with her in the room, but her mother Giulia explains that all this had to remain a secret: giving refuge to a Jewish person was illegal and dangerous.

Caterina admits that "until then in our family the word racism had never been pronounced, its meaning for us children was incomprehensible and unknown". One day, during one of the periodic fascist raids, some soldiers entered the house to make sure that there were no Jews or hidden partisans (in the meantime, Mrs. Weiss was joined by a Sicilian uncle and a sculptor who deserters, the Yugoslav Rabbi Zadick and the Jew Leone Pinto). At that point, the life of the whole family was in fact in the hands of Giulia Galletti Stiffoni: aided by an excellent bottle of grappa, unavailable at that time, she offered the soldiers one glass after another, she fascinated them with her charm and flooded them with words so that they came out almost without having begun the search.

Until that moment, few would have attributed such cunning and lucidity to Giulia Galletti Stiffoni, yet her courage was stronger than any fear. For this reason her daughter, the beloved "Aunt Weiss" and her other guests have thanked and honored her over the years and for this reason we all remember her.

REported by Brigitte Zanetti

Giulia Galletti Stiffoni was honoured as “Righteous reported by the civil society” in the 2022 ceremony.

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