- 06.22.13 04:24 PM EDT
Giovanni Palatucci was revered as a WWII hero for saving 5,000 Jews from the Nazis and likely extermination. A six-year analysis of evidence, however, says that just isn't so.
The study was conducted by the Center for Jewish History in New York where they pored over 700 documents and determined that Palatucci not only collaborated with Nazis but actually helped identify Jews himself. The U.S. Holocaust Museum is removing Palatucci from its exhibits and the Vatican is retracting its martyr status. He died in the Dachau concentration camp after an embezzlement conviction, not based on selfless heroics as originally thought.
There is no confirmed explanation for how this myth was perpetrated for so long but experts say it was born out of desperation from a post-war Italy to find a silver lining.