Carolina Delburgo is a Jewish woman born in Cairo, Egypt as her late father Léon Italian and her late mother, Annette Cohen Greek.
In 1956 – she tells - after the War for Suez Canal, Dad was picked up at night-time and put in jail. For two months, confined in our home, we didn't know anything about him.
For two months, we were confined in our home and we did not know his whereabouts. It was only on board of a Greek ship, sailing in the open sea , on route for Italy, that we were able to see him again. My father came running out of the hold of the ship along with other prisoners who had been released. Neither were we allowed to bring our belongings or any other household items with us. Nor were my parents able to bring with them items from their respective workplaces.
We had been expelled from from Egypt with only the clothes we wore. At dawn , on the 29th of December 1956, we arrived at the port of Brindisi, in the South of Italy
It was on a Sunday evening when, after passing through Police and customs controls, we got off the ship. We were hungry. My father checked the prices and realized that he had money enough just for a single cup of milk and a donut, only for me. Nearing to the cashier, he was about to pay the man working at the harbor buffet.
"But did you get off from this ship?” asked the man. My father didn't understand the meaning of the question and stared at him, speechless. The man repeated the question and pointed at the ship. My father nodded.
Then the man said “ No, you do not pay” and my father broke out in tears.
Immediately the news spread, and all the passengers got inside the harbor cafeteria. This man and all the others, working in the harbor, were very poor, like everyone in Southern Italy, at that age. We received the same warm hospitality all over Brindisi harbor and in the refugee camp named “Bocca di Puglia“.
Although more than 50 years have passed by, my story remained well imprinted in me and the first time I had the opportunity to go back to Southern Italy, I did not miss a visit to my refugee camp “Bocca di Puglia”, which luckily still exists, but it is nearly to be swept away.
At that time my mother passed away, the last of my dear ones. I was alone, but I wanted, to let my dear ones and my whole family to "live again".
Therefore I wrote our story and sent a letter to the Mayor of Brindisi asking him to preserve at least a piece of this camp, as a concrete witness of solidarity of his people.
Both he and the Governor of the Puglia Region agreed.
Furthermore, they set a commemorative plaque just before the doors of my camp and they supported the publication of my book entitled “Come ladri nella notte...la fuga dall'Egitto” (Like thieves in the night...the escape from Egypt).
They organized also a big event which involved the whole town, presenting the monument and the book.
I also spoke in a high school, and at the end, a young shy student approached to me and said: “All my life, I thought that the South was meant to be the burden of Italy. This is the first time in my life that I am proud to be a citizen of Brindisi”.
This presentation was put on the web by the Municipality of Brindisi. So many people got in touch with me from all over the world, since then.
A second edition of the book was published in Italian with the title: “Come ladri nella notte...la cacciata dall'Egitto” (Like thieves in the night...the expulsion from Egypt) and in 2008 it was presented in the Aula Magna of the Bologna University Library (Italy), by Magdi Cristiano Allam, MP of E.U. (Bruxelles).
Historians have, doubtlessly, gave an account of the war events of the Suez Canal of 1956. On the other hand, the Egyptian Jews, personally experienced those events and suffered to a greatest extent; the telling of their fears and events of their lives were described in many different details, as each one tells different things in a different way, Each one of us experienced its own troubles, feelings and pains.
The book is having some success in Italy and has already been translated into English. Its title is “ Like thieves in the night...the expulsion from Egypt” and it will be presented, by the end of 2011, in New York.
It has already been presented in Paris, at the Association ASPCJE and a French translation is now being prepared. A presentation of this French edition is 12already scheduled.
A great interest has been also shown in Amsterdam (NL) and in S. Paulo, Brazil. During the recent turmoils in Egypt many persons often remembered the period I am telling the story of.
On Internet, there is a link that remember the position of his low relief:
Brindisi erects plaque to Jewish refugees of 1956
The site that talks about the book:
LOW RELIEF IN BRINDISI
Translated by : Elisabetta Ventura