Mario was the only child of a Jewish couple who were secondary school teachers in Bologna. Like many Italian Jews, his family was well-integrated into Italian society. Even though Fascist leader Benito Mussolini came to power in 1922, Jews in Italy continued to live in safety. Mario played piano as a hobby. When he finished high school in Bologna, Mario went on to study law.
1933-39: In 1938 Mario began practicing law in Milan. But later that year, Mussolini's government issued "racial" laws that prevented Mario from continuing to practice. Mario moved to Paris and began a new career as a pianist. In August 1939 he returned to Italy to renew his visa. On September 1, while he was there, Germany invaded Poland and two days later France declared war on Germany. Mario was detained in Italy.
1940-44: Mario worked in Bologna with a Jewish service agency, helping refugees. In July 1943 Mussolini was overthrown and German forces occupied Italy. The Jews in Bologna were sent to a German transit camp at Fossoli di Carpi. For some, the destination of the transports out of Fossoli di Carpi was not a secret--"Auschwitz" had been written in chalk on one of the railway cars. In March 1944 Mario was deported to Auschwitz.
In Auschwitz, Mario threw himself on the high-tension wire that surrounded the camp. He left behind a message for his parents, asking their forgiveness. Mario was 31 years old.