Fighters, messengers, invaders: the women of the Resistance

smallThere were over 70,000 women fighters in the Resistance, many more who had equally important but little-recognized roles

Their contribution was fundamental to Liberation and the fight against Nazism, even his women of the ResistanceFor decades little was said about it, and the role and value of partisans went unrecognized at a historiographical and institutional level for a long time.

In case that April 25anniversary of the Liberation of Italy, it is therefore very important to remember and pay tribute over 70,000 party women (these are the Anpi estimates, below) who fought against the Nazis, in many different ways. In fact, history teaches that women who did not submit to recruitment notices, participated on a voluntary basis in the Liberation struggle: taking up arms, carrying information and supplies, acting as a liaison, transporting arms and ammunition, participating in health care and organizing hospitals and organizing women’s defense groups and helping militants, infiltrating enemy ranks. And after that relayyoung women between the ages of 16 and 18 who were tasked with ensuring the connections between the various brigades and maintaining contacts between the partisans and their families, thanks to their appearance which was believed to arouse less suspicion.

The silenced Resistance

Active participants in the struggle, only 35,000 were identified as guerrillas, while 70,000 were members of the Women’s Defense Groups. Other numbers: 4,653 of them were arrested and tortured, over 2,750 were deported to Germany, 2,812 were shot or hanged, 1,070 died in battle, 19 were awarded the Gold Medal after the war for military valor. The numbers are really low, because many testimonies have been lost. It is no coincidence that today we are talking about “Silent resistance“. In fact, for decades the contribution of women to the Resistance was never sufficiently recognized, remaining in a secondary role due to a vision in which even the Liberation Struggle was “declared” only to men and in which only “military” tasks. activities that carried out by women, leaving aside the civilian ones, who are no less important.

“Women they are the main, but not only, protagonists of political resistance – he recalls in the Dictionary of Resistance – Some of their mass actions have extremely specific and important results from a strategic and political point of view: think of the women who, in occupied Naples in September 1943, prevented the men from rounding up, literally causing the German trucks already full, thus sparking the city’s rebellion. Think, again, of the towns of Carrara which, in July 1944, resisted orders for total evacuation, preventing the Germans from guaranteeing a comfortable route of retreat to the rear of the Gothic line.’

Carla Caponi

Therefore, many women played a fundamental role in the Resistance. Among them there are faces and names that remain imprinted in the memory for their sacrifice. This is the case, for example, of Carla Caponi: born in Rome on December 7, 1921, died in Zagarolo on November 23, 2000 and received the Gold Medal of Military Valor.

A law student, immediately after September 8, 1943 she participated in the Roman Resistance, she soon became deputy commander of a formation that operated in Rome and the countryside. In October 1943, in order to obtain a gun (her comrades in the GAP refused her, preferring to reserve supporting roles for women), she stole the gun from a GNR soldier standing next to her on an overcrowded bus. In the spring of 1944 he was among the organizers and executors of the action of the Gappists in Via Rasella against a German army soldier, an action later taken by the Nazis as a pretext for his brutal massacre Fosse Ardeatine.

Recognized as a guerrilla with the rank of captain, she was decorated Gold Medal for Military Valor for participation, we read among other things in the motive, “in the most heroic exploits in the merciless chase which his vanguard gave to the enemy nestling in the inhabited circle of the city of Rome.” Several times a member of the PCI, a member of the Justice Committee in the early seventies, he was a member of the ANPI Presidential Committee until his death.

Stefanina Moro

His life Stefanina Moro it was short, but no less important. Born in Genoa on November 14, 1927, originally from the Quezzi neighborhood, she started as a very young girl. relay race to maintain connections between different party groups.

At the end of September 1944 she was arrested by a group of Nazis precisely because they suspected her of being a courier. He was interrogated and tortured for days to pressure her to name the partisans, the very young Stefanina never spoke: she died at the age of 17 in Asti hospital from the torture she suffered.

Germana Boldrini

Germana Boldrini is among the Resistance fighters. She was the one who on the evening of November 7 in Bologna, at the age of just 17, fired the signal that started the Battle of Porta Lame in Bologna between partisans and Nazis.

“At that moment I separated from my teammates and arrived at Porta Lame, about six seven minutes earlier – he told Liliana Cavani – when I arrived at Porta Lame, with my automatic weapon and grenades, I set fire. My companions followed me and there was a great fight. There were losses on our side and losses on the German side.”

Nilde Iotti

Born in Reggio Emilia on April 10, 1920, died in Rome on December 3, 1999. Nilde Iotti she was a teacher, a communist leader, the first woman candidate in Italy President of the Parliament. Her father, a socialist trade unionist who worked as a switchman for the railways and who, during the dictatorship, had been persecuted by the fascists, wanted his daughter to study and Nilde had graduated in Literature and Philosophy at the Catholic University of Milan. . For some years she had taught at the Industrial Technical Institute of Reggio Emilia, but Nilde Iotti’s life as we know it now began after September 8, 1943: at the age of 23 she joined the ranks of the Resistance, acting in the “Women’s Defense Teams” who, also in the province of Reggio, he made a great contribution to the fight against the Nazis.

As Anpi recalls, after the Liberation, Iotti was appointed secretary of the UDI in Reggio Emilia and in 1946 was elected to the City Council as an independent on the PCI lists. On June 2 of the same year he was elected to the constituent assembly and in 1948 he was elected for the first time to the House of Representativeso. She was reconfirmed for the following legislatures and on June 29, 1979 she was elected (by the first vote and the first woman in Italian parliamentary history) President of the House.

From the Resistance, Iotti was protagonist of the battles for the defense of women. In 1955 she was the first to sign a bill to establish a pension and insurance for housewives. In 1974 she actively participated in the referendum battle to defend divorce. The following year he promoted the Family Law Act. In 1978 he helped pass the abortion law.

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