April 4, 1957

VICTIM OF PEACE: New York, 1 – «Let me die. No one wants to help me,» cried Giulio Contino, 61, a World War I hero, as he stood on the cornice of the war veterans’ building here. Seventeen floors down, thousands of people watched anxiously for half an hour as a police officer begged the semi-paralyzed man, leaning on crutches, not to jump. «Let me die,» repeated Contino. The clock on the nearby subway station showed 11.10 a.m. when, as the crowd held its breath, Contino looked up at the sky for the last time. He removed his coat and jacket and handed them to the police officer, made the sign of the cross and threw himself off the ledge, still holding his crutches. The tragedy had begun half an hour earlier when Contino had gone to the veterans’ pension bureau to ask for an increase that had been due for a year. During the First World War, Contino had been injured by shrapnel. «We don’t have any news for you yet,» replied the clerk. In desperation, Contino, who was up to his neck in debt, decided to end his life. The tragic irony was that a letter with news of Contino’s raise reached his home that afternoon in the post.

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