The First Partisan Courier of Italy
AUSCHWITZ deportate n. 81672.
She was born in Trieste in 1925. At eighteen she joined the Liberation Movement. Twice arrested, Peteani managed to elude the surveillance with daring escape, but was caught on 11 February 1944 in Vermegliano (Ronchi dei Legionari), and segregated in the SS Commando of piazza Oberdan (Trieste), from where she was then transferred to the Coroneo prison and then deported with a livestock van firstly to Auschwitz, at the end of March and successively, to the Ravensbruck camp. A distressing memory of hers appears in an interview within:
– Racconti dal Lager di Marco Coslovich
– Mursia editore-
“Of Auschwitz I recall a stupid memory … one evening I was on the door’s threshold of the shed and there was a big moon. I thought – they see it also at home. I was taken by anguish, a physical illness, a homesickness for my people that hurt so much, of my country… I was afraid I wasn’t going to make it and I remember that they tortured us saying – … the war will soon finish, they will see us in this state and will take us home by airplanes. They will have a lot of care for us since we have been reduced to these conditions. So within a few hours we will knock on the door at home and we will hear the words – who is it? … Mother, mother!!!
And as a consequence we cried desperately.
…I was taken by anguish, a physical illness, a homesickness for my people …
In October of the same year she was transferred to a war material factory in Eberswalde, within Berlin, where she carried out an unsuspected programme of sabotage, by considerably slowing down the productive cycle, thanks to continuous and repeated meticulous examinations, with the excuse of verifying the lathes and pieces produced.
In the middle of April 1945, during a forced march of five days which should have taken her back to Ravensbruck, she managed to escape from the 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, a Europe which was on it’s knees, without bridges, roads or railroads intact. When I hugged father, mother and my dog who jumped on me to welcome me back since he recognized me, then and only then I understood that I had returned free”.
… tangible scars of roll call nights outside the BLOCK, nude in the open…
As explained by those who knew her, the curse of that atrocious hell, the permanence within the extermination camp, ruined her existence from the physical point of view, and mined her spirit, so much so that she often said “I do not know what a dream is. From 1944 I very well know what a nightmare is”
After the war Peteani became a midwife. Then in 1962, together with her companion Gian Luigi Brusadin, gave life to the first Library agency of “Editori Riuniti for the Triveneto”, which became a center for encounters of intellectuals, artists and actors. Following that they constituted a center for aggregation for the youngsters and managed several summer and winter colonies within Italy and abroad.
With supporters to the democratic movement of Reggio Emilia she founded the Pioneer Association of Italy. In 1976, the Friuli earthquake saw her immediately present giving life to the acceptance tents of Maiano. She then became regional secretary of the Italian Pensioners Union of the New Chamber of Confederal Workers Cgil and executive manager of the organization 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”
Auswchwitz and Ravensbruck were her daily present ghosts, her torturers, that did not give her peace until the very end. The lung calcifications (evident in all thoracic x-rays) are tangible scars of roll call nights outside the BLOCK, nude in the open, tortured physically and scorned in spirit.
For decades anorexic, she paid the price of her survival refusing, with increasing obstination during the last years, food which she had not been able to share with the moltitude of defenceless laughtered in the Lager, towards which unconsciously she developed and matured her own latent “sense of guilt”, extensively treated by Primo Levi.
The nervous depression which struck her in 1976, the bronchial asma, the lung emphysema which since 1991 confined her within the domestic walls, dependant on an oxygen cylinder, which day by day mined her untiring will.
Nothing had ever notched her belief for freedom and untamed coherence of antifascist, militant antiracist, inestimable values, which have marked her identity and will maintain her memory live so that her lacerating experience, her contribution, will increase the DUTY FOR THE MEMORY of the HOLOCAUST – the most enormous tragedy of humanity – eternal admonition for the generations to come.