Syndrome K Image

Syndrome K

By Alan Ng | August 14, 2022

Desperate times call for desperate measures. Stephen Edwards’ thrilling documentary, Syndrome K, is the story of three doctors who went to extraordinary lengths to hide Jews from the Nazis and the Holocaust.

The story takes us to Nazi-occupied Italy. In 1943, Hitler invaded Rome and immediately began rounding up Roman Jews. When over 1,000 Jews from the Jewish Ghetto in Rome were sent to Auschwitz, many other Jews sought refuge in the Vatican-affiliated Fatebenefratelli Hospital located across from the Ghetto.

Impatient with the Vatican’s stalling, the SS was on the verge of deporting all of the hospital refugees. That is until three doctors, Adriano Ossicini, Giovanni Borromeo, and Vittorio Sacradoti, discovered a highly contagious and deadly virus being spread amongst the Jews, known as Syndrome K. There was no cure to be found because there was no virus. The three doctors made it up and devised an elaborate ruse to “quarantine” the “infected.” Their plan needed to not only save these Jewish patients but trick the Nazis into believing that they would die anyways to keep the hospital off the SS’s radar. But how long could they keep the lie going since none of the Jews were actually dying?

“…discovered a highly contagious and deadly virus being spread amongst the Jews, known as Syndrome K.”

I’ve seen dozens of Holocaust-related documentaries and narratives, but I’ve never heard about this story until now. Syndrome K is begging for a big star-studded Hollywood takeover. Narrated by the late Ray Liotta, the narrative of these amazing doctors is told through Liotta’s voice-over and talking head interviews with Holocaust scholars and experts as well as the descendants of the doctors. Filmmaker Stephen Edwards also reenacts several pivotal moments for dramatic effect.

Throughout the film, it dawned on me that I didn’t know much about the Nazi influence in Italy as it was the third leg of the Axis empire along with Germany and Japan. Edwards dives deep into the state of Italy and its citizens, as well as pays close attention to the Vatican’s role in World War II. We learn that the Pope was more than the leader of the Catholic Church. He was also a political player. Though he tried to protect the church, at the same time, he let Hitler walk all over him.

Just when you thought all the stories of the Holocaust had been told, a new one surfaces in Syndrome K. I find it fascinating that there are dozens of films telling numerous accounts of the moment the war was won. Yet, when you take a step back, the Nazi defeat happened because everyday people did their small part for victory’s sake, which includes three heroic doctors.

For screening information, visit the Syndrome K official website.

Syndrome K (2022)

Directed: Stephen Edwards

Written: Gregory Ballard

Starring: Ray Liotta, etc.

Movie score: 8/10

Syndrome K Image

"…fascinating..."

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