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I believe that gradesaver's section on the theme of bravey puts the cultural and historical aspects of the novel into perspective for you perfectly. The source link is provided at the end of this answer box.
Bravery is an ubiquitous theme throughout Life is Beautiful. The pressures of anti-Semitism, cruelty, and prejudice affect everyone in the film, and each character's reaction to these pressures is highly indicative of his or her personal beliefs and proclivities.
Dora is a paragon of bravery, and her dilemmas in the film mirror the dilemmas faced by countless inhabitants of Italy in the 1930s. At the beginning of the film, she finds herself trapped in a relationship with a man she does not love, surrounded by socialites who do not think or act like she does. She hates her surroundings but feels helpless to escape. When Guido comes along, however, she realizes that there is another option: following her heart. She bravely leaves the safety of her surroundings to be with her true love, and she becomes far happier for having done so. Dora's sense of being swept up by the inertia of her surroundings recalls how many Italians felt when the Fascists came to power. Dora does not like what is happening in her life, but she sees no viable alternative. Likewise, many Italians felt that opposing the government was impossibly difficult and dangerous. On the one hand, their silence amounted to consent; on the other hand, their silence could be interpreted as cowardice and a lack of bravery. When Guido sweeps in on a horse and rescues Dora, he shows that such bravery is possible and highly desirable; his act serves as an allegory for (and an endorsement of) opposition to the government.
A disaster such as the Holocaust is much more complicated than a natural disaster such as a hurricane. Natural disasters test an individual's bravery but are initiated in ways that normally are wholly external to humanity. The Holocaust, in contrast, was the direct result of individual choices and decisions (and most likely not the result of an impersonal Schopenhauer-like "will"). Whereas a natural disaster can be seen as a battle between society and nature, disasters such as the Holocaust pit society against itself. During the Holocaust, each person had to analyze the situation and decide whether or not to embrace society's new values. Bravery was tested along with personal allegiances and personal values. The conflicts that arose in the wake of these complex choices tested bravery even further. For example, a Nazi official with a Jewish uncle would have had to weigh his allegiance to his state against his allegiance to his family, and the question of how to be "brave" would not have a simple answer. An Italian-Jewish farmer who owned land in Italy would have had to decide whether to flee the country or keep the land that had been in his family for ages, weighing his love for his home against his instinct for survival. Perhaps "bravery" provides too simple a scale on which to weigh the decisions of those involved in such a complicated matter. Humanity, idealism, individuality, and willpower are pertinent factors, and sometimes "doing the right thing" is not so simple as being brave or courageous in the face of risk. Brave actions depend on a host of intellectual, practical, and theological virtues.