Did you know that during WWII, doctors at an Italian hospital invented a fake deadly disease to fool Nazis and save Jewish lives? It was called Syndrome K disease (Il Morbo di K), described as highly contagious and fatal, and it was completely made up.

Fatebenefratelli Hospital had become known as a safe haven for Jews under the direction of Professor Giovanni Borromeo. On October 16, 1943, the Catholic hospital opened its doors to Jews seeking shelter. Borromeo knew the hospital was most likely to be searched, so he, along with two doctors, Vittorio Sacerdoti and Adriano Ossicini, came up with a brilliant plan. They decided that any Jew seeking refuge at the hospital would be admitted as a new patient, quarantined and declared to be suffering from Syndrome K. When the Nazis arrived to search the hospital, they were informed of patients stricken with the deadly and disfiguring disease. The plan worked, preventing the Germans from entering those areas of the hospital and making Syndrome K a “disease” that saved lives.