The often told tale of the Postman of Peace is deservingly being told again. The story of the lone rider who smuggled identity photos in his bike frame to a convent producing counterfeit papers during World War II which ultimately saved the lives of some 800 Jews. The UCI has released details of the happenings as Israel is considering naming Gino Bartali one of the “Righteous” for his heroic actions 70 years after the events and 12 years after Bartali’s death. Bartali’s son Andrea has opened the Fondazione Bartali working with journalist Laura Guerra to obtain more information about his father’s courageous rides.
“In 1943 Bartali, who had already won the Tour de France once and the Giro d’Italia twice, was assigned to the traffic police by the fascist regime, before leaving the job on 8 September. That was when he went underground, choosing to help persecuted Jews by smuggling identity photos to a convent that produced counterfeit papers. As far as the soldiers who guarded the road between Florence and San Quirico, near Assisi, were concerned, Bartali was merely on a 380-km training run. In fact, valuable documents were hidden inside the frame and saddle of his bicycle.”
“In Israel, the Yad Vashem Memorial is currently studying the evidence with a view to granting Bartali the posthumous distinction of “Righteous Among the Nations”, awarded to those who placed their lives in danger to save Jews. Right up to his death, Bartali rarely spoke about these acts of bravery, keeping them secret even from his wife. One day he said, simply: “Good is something you do, not something you talk about. Some medals are pinned to your soul, not to your jacket.”