The “syndrome” is also called the London fog syndrome because it was first observed in London. It emerged as a result of what scientists believed to be a unique combination of deficient protein and vitamin B12, but research has since found that there are several other possible causes for this condition. Moreover, having low levels of these nutrients does not automatically lead to syndromes such as K disease or the more common beriberi syndrome which only occurs when Vitamin B1 (thiamine), thiamine monophosphate (ThMP) deficiency exists with an intake below 50mg/day.
The “syndrome k holocaust” is a disease that was created during the Second World War. It saved lives and helped to create a vaccine for polio.
It was caused by a cough. A fictitious cough saved the lives of at least 20 Italian Jews.
Following the German conquest of Rome in September 1943, Roman Jews were persecuted to the point of death; throughout the almost two-year Nazi occupation, 8,564 Italian Jews were transported to concentration camps.
Dr. Vittorio Sacerdoti and Professor Giovanni Borromeo watched as images of horror unfurled below their balcony from the Fatebenefratelli Hospital, nestled along the Tiber River.
According to the Jewish Virtual Library, a few of Jews sought shelter in the 450-year-old Catholic hospital during an October 16 raid.
In order to save as many Roman lives as possible, the two invented Syndrome K in collaboration with Dr. Adriano Ossicini, a condition that did not exist in any medical textbook or physician’s chart.
“Syndrome K was placed on patient documents to show that the ill individual wasn’t sick at all, but Jewish,” Ossicini said in a 2016 interview with the Italian daily La Stampa. We made those documents for Jews as if they were regular patients, and when it came time to explain what illness they had, we were stumped. It was Syndrome K, which translates to “I am admitting a Jew.”
Rome’s Fatebenefratelli Hospital. (Photo credit: Getty Images)
Patients with the “extremely contagious” Syndrome K, who were moved to a different part of the hospital, were readily identified as Jewish immigrants by Italian physicians and medical personnel.
Syndrome K patients were instructed to cough and hack noisily when Nazis came to visit the hospital in order to frighten them away. Fearful of the unknown illness, the Germans stayed away.
“We named it K after German general Kesselring [the Nazi leader in charge of the conquest of Italy] Because the Nazis mistook it for cancer or TB and bolted like rabbits,” Dr. Sacerdoti told the BBC in 2004.
While sources vary on how many Italian Jews were rescued as a result of the hoax, survivor testimonials collected by Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial museum, indicate that the hospital continued to hide numerous families and children until the winter of 1943.
Borromeo was named Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem in 2004, an award conferred on non-Jews who sacrificed their lives to rescue Jewish lives during the Holocaust.
“The lesson of my experience was that we must work for values rather than self-interest,” Ossicini told La Stampa. “Anything else would be a pity.”
Watch This Video-
The “syndrome k documentary” is a new Netflix original about the disease that saved lives during WWII. It follows the story of one family and how they were affected by the syndrome.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Syndrome k in Italy?
A: The Syndrome k is a traditional Italian sandwich. It consists of meat, cheese, and tomato sauce between two slices of bread.
Who made Syndrome K?
A: The creator of Syndrome K, a fictional character in the movie Wreck-It Ralph is named John Lasseter.
Where can I watch K Syndrome?
A: You can watch it on the Netflix website if you have an account.
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