During the Nazi occupation of Rome between September 1943 and June 1944, the city was struck by a mysterious epidemic, Haaretz reports.
A previously unknown and highly contagious disease, the “K syndrome,” forced the Fatebenefratelli hospital to isolate dozens of infected patients in a special wing, completely inaccessible to outsiders. The fictitious illness kept dozens of Roman Jews safe from the Nazis who were hunting them down. The letter “K” was a reference to Albert Kesselring, the German officer in charge of the city.
A young doctor, Adriano Ossicini, came up with the idea and the other staff played along, saving at least 40 lives. More than a thousand Roman Jews were arrested and deported to death camps. Ossicini told La Stampa, “We were telling [Nazis officers] to be careful, not to go to that wing or they might catch the disease. Since they weren’t particularly smart nor very brave, it was easy to scare the Nazis off.”
David Steger – Matzav.com Israel