Sunday, September 12, 2010

Time moves on.

     It's funny this grieving thing, just when you think you are doing ok all of a sudden out of nowhere there you are crying in a store because something reminded you of your loved one.  Mom loved Christmas and decorating and as we all know the stores put stuff out sooner and sooner.  Well I went out to get some flowers for the cemetery and there is the christmas village staring me down, and I see the cutest little addition to mom's village and that is all it took.  I then spent 10 minutes walking around Micheals not looking at anyone or anything, trying to get it together so I could check out.  Well I now have what is called the trash bandits, little raccoons going through trash cans for mom's village scene.  I know she had to be laughing at me.  Well as promised here are some more pictures of mom.  First is the picture of mom with her sister Elizabeth and her little brother Joseph.
      The next photo is of my great grandmother Maria, or Nonna Maria who so lovingly raised my mother.  She was 90 in this picture which was taken in March of 1942, just before my mother would be taken away to Labor Camp.
      And the photo that is left is my mother and her older brother John.  They were close because I think John was in Italy alot, although my mother was close to all her siblings.   Just as life moves on so must this story, so here goes.  When mom was little, Italy had a King and Queen.  Then came Mussolini which many Italians felt that he did a lot of good for the country until he got involved with Hitler.  Check out your history!!  He did a lot to improve the infrastructure of Italy and people felt he was improving the country and their lives.  As we know Europe was involved in the war long before America got involved.
Germany was taking over countries and working its way through all of Europe.  Germany and Italy had signed the Pact of Steel, thus making Italy partners with Germany.  Much of the information I now give you was researched by my wonderful sister-in-law, Lydia, who came down and interviewed mom and wrote a paper on La Resistenza.  Mama turned 15 in 1940 and at this point the Germans were present in Italy, trying to use the resources they had to further the war effort.  Mom was approached by the Partigiani, the underground, to help them with translating messages.  She did not fully understand the danger or risk she would be taking at first, but she continued with it because of her love of Italy and their love for the people they were helping.  So my mother had a code name, V14.  Mama would translate communications that would enable the Partigiani to rescue and regroup allied soldiers or get others to safe havens such as Jews, Italian or German soldiers who were facing persecution.  Everything was done in secrecy so mom kept her full time job which was working at a bank during the week.  It seems funny that someone would be working full time at 15! and put there life at risk on the weekend to help others!  On weekends she would ride her bike 13 kilometers north to her uncle's house, stash her bike and be picked up by someone, often in a German jeep, once even wearing a German uniform.  Because there were many civilians working for the Germans no one ever questioned it.  They would drive far into the mountains then travel by foot until they reached a cave.  This is where their communication equipment was hidden.  There she would work until returning home Sunday night after dark.  Her work involved providing communications regarding times and places that were arranged to enable her group to secretly handoff anyone needing help to the next group along the way.  Although mama  was not directly involved in the movement of people there were two occasions where she did assist getting help from the Partigiani.
Mama around the age of 15 or 16. Isn't she beautiful
      One day mama came upon 2 British soldiers with their parachute in a corn field.  She helped hide them and get them help.  To express their gratitude they gave her their parachutes, which mom and her friends quickly cut up into blouses.  Nothing goes to waste!!  She was crafty.  On another occasion a German Jew showed up at her grandmother's back door.  They hid him in the garden until she could get him into the hands of the Partigiani.  This was typical of what would happen.  Someone would come upon someone who needed help and they would hide them in gardens, sheds, barns, hayfields, until arrangements could be made for a partisan to meet them.  Because everything was done in secrecy mama did not know the names of the people she worked with or the people she rescued.  There was another woman who worked with the Partigiani but she was shot by the Germans before 1942.  Mama was taken in for interrogation in 1942, turned in by someone in her town(she never knew who).  She convinced the Germans that she did not speak German and I believe God was looking out for her.  She had been picked up coming out of church on Sunday morning after Mass.  Never to see her grandmother again, she would die while mama was in camp.  Mama was sent on a cattle car to Germarode work camp where our story will pick up.  Mama never talked alot about her experiences.  She believed still to this day that it could bring harm to someone.  I am so grateful to Lydia who was able to record so much of this information that we would never have known. It is so important for us to talk to those who have gone before us, they have so much information if we would just ask!  This last photo is of mama not long before she was taken away to camp.  I am so lucky to have so many photos>  Ciao for now, Maria

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