Giorgio Perlasca at Yad Vasgem ceremony in his honor
Discovered a Righteous Man
When Perlasca returned home, he found that few people were interested in his experiences; no one believed his stories. Like most European nations, Italy did not want to acknowledge or be reminded of its responsibility for the horrors of the Holocaust. For the next 43 years, Perlasca's heroic exploits went unheard, and they - and he - were forgotten.
Then in 1987, Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial and Remembrance Museum in Jerusalem, received a letter from Dr. Eveline Blitstein Willinger, a woman living in Berlin. She and a group of Jewish survivors had located the now 79-year-old man living with his wife in an apartment in Padua, Italy. As noted in Saving the Jews, she wrote, "To my astonishment, nobody knows his name, nobody thanks him for what he did . . . We are asking you to honor this great man with a noble soul, before it's too late."
Honors and Tributes
Once Giorgio Perlasca's story came to light, people from all corners of the world were speaking his name. Between 1989 and 1992, heads of state, associations, and citizens from several countries honored Perlasca for his courageous and selfless work, for the 5,000 lives he saved - and their children and grandchildren.
In 1989, Israel awarded Perlasca an honorary citizenship, and Yad Vashem presented him with the Righteous Among the Nations of the World award. According to the Giorgio Perlasca website, the Jerusalem museum defines "the righteous" as those men and women "who have identified evil and have risked their own lives to save others threatened by a totalitarian, political, social or religious project."
That same year, Hungary awarded Perlasca the Star of Merit, its highest honor. In 1990, Perlasca attended a ceremony in Washington, D.C., to receive the Medal of Remembrance, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council's highest honor. Perlasca also received distinctive awards from Italy and Spain.
The early 1990s saw the emergence of books, films, and newspaper and magazine articles that paid tribute to Perlasca. Enrico Deaglio wrote about Perlasca's activities in La Banalità del bene (The Banality of Goodness, translated into English by Gregory Conti). Mordecai Paldiel included a chapter on Perlasca in Saving the Jews: Amazing Stories of Men and Women Who Defied the "Final Solution." Perlasca told his own story in his memoirs,L'Impostore (The Impostor). Many people learned about Perlasca's exploits from the Italian film, Perlasca - an Italian Hero, and a four-hour French documentary, Tzedek (Righteousness).
During these years, Perlasca was asked the same question, over and over - why did he risk his life to save Jews in another country? A modest man, he always replied that he didn't think he was a hero and would explain, "Because I couldn't stand the sight of people being branded like animals . . . I couldn't stand seeing children being killed. I did what I had to do ...AsfarasIwas concerned, I was sure of the rightness of what I was doing."
Perlasca died on August 15, 1992, at his home in Padua, Italy.
Source: Answers.com: http://www.answers.com/topic/giorgio-perlasca