Pushing heroes off of pedestals is the messy side of historical research. It's labour intensive work that has painful consequences ... for the hero and his or her followers.
New evidence is demolishing the reputation of Giovanni Palatucci, known as Italy's Oskar Schindler, after the famous German who helped Jews avoid the death camps.
The wartime hero was quite the opposite, according to documents recently come to light. Many are shaking their heads in disbelief at how a long list of distinguished institutions appear to have been either fooled or misled.
During the second world war, Palatucci was credited with saving five thousand Jewish lives while working as a police official in the town of Fiume - today called Rijeka in Croatia. For heroically defying the Nazis, so the story goes, he was sent to a concentration camp where he died at the age of 36.
After the war, a campaign to honour Palatucci reached the highest levels. He was named "Righteous Among the Nations" - an honour roll of those who rescued Jews - by Yad Vashim, Israel's memorial to the Holocaust. Pope John Paul Second declared him a martyr, the first step on the road to sainthood. Italian streets and squares bear his name. A miniseries about his daring exploits ran on Italian television in 2008.
It all turned upside down when the Centro Primo Levi at the Center for Jewish History in New York announced that documents, examined by scholars, show that Palatucci was a Nazi collaborator who helped send Jews to a certain death.
Already the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has removed his profile and photo from an exhibit and the Anti Defammation League said it is dropping his name from an award given to law enforcers.
Alexander Stille is a professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism who is familiar with the documents revealing the dark side of Palatucci. Stille has written about east European Jews in wartime, most recently a family memoir The Force of Things: A Marriage of War and Peace. He spoke to us from New York.