Italian survivor who inspired Life is Beautiful

Italian Holocaust survivor Rubino Romeo Salmoni, whose memoir of surviving Auschwitz inspired the 1997 film “Life is Beautiful,” died July 10 in Rome. He was 91.

His book, “In the End, I Beat Hitler,” used “flashes of irony and dark humor to describe conditions in Auschwitz, where he was sent. Salmoni told his story often in public, including during visits to schools and colleges; he said he viewed his survival as a triumph over the Nazis.

“Life is Beautiful,” which starred and was directed by Italian comedian Roberto Benigni, was inspired by Salmoni’s story, but Benigni invented the fanciful tale of how a father shielded his son from knowledge of the concentration camp in which they were held. The film won the 1998 Cannes Film Festival Grand Prize and 1999 best foreign language film Academy Award, and Benigni won the best actor Oscar.

Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno said Salmoni was “a great man who with his courage and determination managed to save himself from the hell of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Romeo was an example for young people and for the whole of Rome.” — jta