The First Partisan Courier of Italy
AUSCHWITZ deportate n. 81672.
Shewas born in Trieste in 1925. At eighteen she joined the LiberationMovement. Twice arrested, Peteani managed to elude the surveillancewith daring escape, but was caught on 11 February 1944 in Vermegliano(Ronchi dei Legionari), and segregated in the SS Commando of piazzaOberdan (Trieste), from where she was then transferred to the Coroneoprison and then deported with a livestock van firstly to Auschwitz, atthe end of March and successively, to the Ravensbruck camp. Adistressing memory of hers appears in an interview within:
– Racconti dal Lager di Marco Coslovich
– Mursia editore-
“OfAuschwitz I recall a stupid memory … one evening I was on the door’sthreshold of the shed and there was a big moon. I thought – they see italso at home. I was taken by anguish, a physical illness, ahomesickness for my people that hurt so much, of my country… I wasafraid I wasn’t going to make it and I remember that they tortured ussaying – … the war will soon finish, they will see us in this state andwill take us home by airplanes. They will have a lot of care for ussince we have been reduced to these conditions. So within a few hourswe will knock on the door at home and we will hear the words – who isit? … Mother, mother!!!
And as a consequence we cried desperately.
…I was taken by anguish, a physical illness, a homesickness for my people …
InOctober of the same year she was transferred to a war material factoryin Eberswalde, within Berlin, where she carried out an unsuspectedprogramme of sabotage, by considerably slowing down the productivecycle, thanks to continuous and repeated meticulous examinations, withthe excuse of verifying the lathes and pieces produced.
In themiddle of April 1945, during a forced march of five days whichshould have taken her back to Ravensbruck, she managed to escape fromthe colony of prisoners, returning to Italy in July.
She was 20 years old.
These were her words : “It was exciting to come back home. I had the time to recuperate the sensitivity, the lost
humanity.I was between the first to come back, it was the beginning of July,three incredible months to cross approximately 1300 kilometers, aEurope which was on it’s knees, without bridges, roads or railroadsintact. When I hugged father, mother and my dog who jumped on me towelcome me back since he recognized me, then and only then I understoodthat I had returned free”.
… tangible scars of roll call nights outside the BLOCK, nude in the open…
Asexplained by those who knew her, the curse of that atrocious hell, thepermanence within the extermination camp, ruined her existence from thephysical point of view, and mined her spirit, so much so that she oftensaid “I do not know what a dream is. From 1944 I very well know what anightmare is”
After the war Peteani became a midwife. Then in 1962,together with her companion Gian Luigi Brusadin, gave life to the firstLibrary agency of “Editori Riuniti for the Triveneto”, which became acenter for encounters of intellectuals, artists and actors. Followingthat they constituted a center for aggregation for the youngsters andmanaged several summer and winter colonies within Italy and abroad.
Withsupporters to the democratic movement of Reggio Emilia she founded thePioneer Association of Italy. In 1976, the Friuli earthquake saw herimmediately present giving life to the acceptance tents of Maiano. Shethen became regional secretary of the Italian Pensioners Union of theNew Chamber of Confederal Workers Cgil and executive manager of theorganization of the ex deported and of Anpi.
“I do not know what a dream is. From 1944 I very well know what a nightmare is”
Auswchwitzand Ravensbruck were her daily present ghosts, her torturers, that didnot give her peace until the very end. The lung calcifications (evidentin all thoracic x-rays) are tangible scars of roll call nights outsidethe BLOCK, nude in the open, tortured physically and scorned in spirit.
Fordecades anorexic, she paid the price of her survival refusing, withincreasing obstination during the last years, food which she had notbeen able to share with the moltitude of defenceless laughtered in theLager, towards which unconsciously she developed and matured her ownlatent “sense of guilt”, extensively treated by Primo Levi.
Thenervous depression which struck her in 1976, the bronchial asma, thelung emphysema which since 1991 confined her within the domestic walls,dependant on an oxygen cylinder, which day by day mined her untiringwill.
Nothing had ever notched her belief for freedom anduntamed coherence of antifascist, militant antiracist,inestimable values, which have marked her identity and will maintainher memory live so that her lacerating experience, her contribution,will increase the DUTY FOR THE MEMORY of the HOLOCAUST – the mostenormous tragedy of humanity – eternal admonition for the generationsto come.