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"the potatoes on the top, under these the leaflets"
Giacomma Castagnetti tells about her tasks in the Italian Resistenza.
I am from an antifascist family. My brothers have told me already as a little girl, that the documents and talks of the Duce aren't true, that they are not at all expression and signs of democracy. 1935 I have heard for the first time about the war. Italy had invaded Ethopia. The keywords were saying, we would not have enough room and we must enlarge our national boundaries. The second World War then started off in 1940.
I have joined the communist party at the time when I was 15 years. Perhaps I had not known yet what it really meant, but it was important for me to do something against those who waged the war, and the Communists stood for that. I joined the so called Women Liberation Groups, which were founded within the resistance. Of course our first aim was to fight against the war, but even in times when we had to live illegally, we met and discussed about the vote for women and other womens rights. We have held meetings in the middle of the country under a tree, so not to endanger the family and its yard if meeting there. Many women organized themselves in these groups for the most different reasons, however, most haven't offered resistance because of political conviction but they just wanted peace.
The work consisted in going to families to collect for the partisans or include other families in the fight. We talked with the families about the question whether they would house partisans and to win them for the Resistenzia. Of course, this work wasn't harmless. We didn't always know with whom these people took it for and how they were adjusted politically. But the Resistanzia wouldn't have enlarged, if we had only entrenched ourselves in our circle of antifascists from the forties.
We transmitted news and transported weapons. For example we carried the potatoes in our shopping basket on the top and hiding under these the leaflets. To pass information on, the bicycle was the fastest means. Often, we had to escape or hide. Today, you simply buy a newspaper at the kiosk, but, at that time to have a newspaper against the war in the bag, meant to be in serious danger. Surely, we were a little rash, the dangers were not consciously so clear to us. Could you imagine that I have always only heard of war between my 10th up to 20th year of life? Hereby mechanisms were triggered which drove us to action, which are difficult to explain nowadays. At the end of the war we realised, that we had made a considerable contribution to the liberation of the country. It was cobvious for us, that we wanted to get more rights and liberties now, too, and that it was our good right.After what happened, it simply couldn't have been different no longer. Fascism needed the women, who had till then always worked in the household or on the yard, in the factories, because the men were at the front. Therefore we weren't women isolated from each other anymore, no longer just herself behind her stove, apart from other women. We had become women who were present in society. Nethertheless, we had to break thousands resistances after the war. But of course, there were people looking backwards. Many female partisans were watched mistrustfully. However, at last the men had to understand and to realise that the work of the women was important, if e.g. there wouldn't have been the "Stafettes", the transmitters, the groups of partisans would have been completely isolated from each other. Because of this, the role of the women has also changed. Even men who would have prefered seeing their women two steps behind, had to realise that woman also had a value and that she is, as a human, just as important and so was her work.
BU: The partisans monument in Castelnovo ne 'Monti is one of the few, if not the only monument in Italy which reminds of the contribution of women to the liberation.
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Link to the original article in German: grossRaumzeitUng
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