Partisan Diary: A Woman's Life in the Italian Resistance
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Ada Gobetti's Partisan Diary is both diary and memoir. From the German entry into Turin on 10 September 1943 to the liberation of the city on 28 April 1945, Gobetti recorded an almost daily account of events, sentiments, and personalities, in a cryptic English only she could understand. Italian senator and philosopher Benedetto Croce encouraged Ada to convert her notes into a book. Published by the Italian publisher Giulio Einaudi in 1956, it won the Premio Prato, an annual prize for a work inspired by the Italian Resistance (Resistenza). From a political and military point of view, the Partisan Diary provides firsthand knowledge of how the partisans in Piedmont fought, what obstacles they encountered, and who joined the struggle against the Nazis and the Fascists. The mountainous terrain and long winters of the Alpine regions (the site of many of their battles) and the ever-present threat of reprisals by German occupiers and their fascist partners exacerbated problems of organization among the various partisan groups. So arduous was their fight, that key military events--Italy's declaration of war on Germany, the fall of Rome, and the Allied landings on D-Day --appear in the diary as remote and almost unrelated incidents. Ada Gobetti writes of the heartbreak of mothers who lost their sons or watched them leave on dangerous missions of sabotage, relating it to worries about her own son Paolo. She reflects on the relationship between anti-fascist thought of the 1920s, in particular the ideas of her husband, Piero Gobetti, and the Italian resistance movement (Resistenza) in which she and her son were participating. While the Resistenza represented a culmination of more than twenty years of anti-fascist activity for Ada, it also helped illuminate the exceptional talents, needs, and rights of Italian women, more than one hundred thousand of whom participated.
Acknowledgments ix Preface xi List of Acronyms xiii Maps The Province of Turin from Susa to the French Border The Province of Turin from Turin to Susa xv Municipalities of the Susa Valley xvii Introduction 1 10–12 September 1943 19 13 September–16 November 1943 17–23 November 1943 27 43 24 November 1943–23 March 1944 24 March–1 April 1944 2 April–25 June 1944 26 June–4 July 1944 87 104 123 5 July–14 November 1944 15–27 November 1944 52 136 216 vii xiv
foolishness. Then I tell myself that it would be difficult to replace the reference point represented by my house. Today, for example, a character arrived who called himself Albertino, a very brave young man who helped several friends escape from prison in conditions 2 A p r i l –2 5 J u n e 19 4 4 119 that were downright rocambolesque.24 I recognized him immediately because his hair is bleached and he walks with a cane, pretending to be lame. I told him that, if I were a policeman, his
descent on the other side along an alternating succession of meadows and larch trees. Everything seemed quiet. A woman with a baby in her arms who was grazing goats confirmed for us that there were no alarms for the moment. Ettore Serafino was a major in the army and commander of the Monte Albergian Brigade of the Chisone Valley. “Lupo” was a partisan in the formations in the Chisone Valley. A maquisard was a member of the French Resistance. 6 2 6 J u n e – 4 J u l y 19 4 4 131 At Villa
myself: “My God! How comfortable all this is! I always thought I did not really care about such things. Is it possible that my instincts can be so bourgeois?” Almost unconsciously, I began to speak with Don Rescalli about painting and pictures. I felt so good that I did not want to leave. When I finally decided to move, the hour of the curfew had already passed. Don Rescalli pointed out to me a lane through which I could reach the shortcut before long. Half an hour later I was in Meana. I found
asleep, but when I leaned over him to cover him, he sat up unexpectedly and put his arms around my neck. “Good night, Sergio,” I said to him, kissing him on his forehead. For a moment I remained near him, caressing his hair with sad tenderness, and thinking about so many things: about his mother, who perhaps at that moment, in her distant isolated cottage, was watching the sun set, wondering where her child was; about Paolo, who was exposed to every sort of danger on the street that was becoming