In the fall of 1943, Nazis began arresting the Jews of Rome, many of whom were sent off to concentration camps including Auschwitz where they were never heard from again. While there are many beautiful stories of the people of Rome hiding Jews, this one jumped out at me. About two dozen Jews fled from the Nazis and found themselves at the door of a hospital called Fatebenefratelli which stood on a tiny island in the Tiber in Rome.
In panic and with little hope, they found themselves ushered in quietly and quickly diagnosed with a strange new disease called “Syndrome K,” a version of Koch disease. They were placed into “quarantine” and put behind closed doors.
Of course, there is no such thing as Syndrome K. Ironically, it was called Syndrome K as shorthand for General Albert Kesselring who was the local commander of the German army which was hunting Jewish people throughout the area.