Bolzano Transit Camp

The Bolzano transit camp (German: Polizei- und Durchgangslager Bozen) was a Nazi concentration camp active in Bolzano between 1944 and the end of the Second World War. It was one of the largest Nazi Lager on Italian soil, along with those of Fossoli, Borgo San Dalmazzo and Trieste.

Bolzano Transit Camp
Transit Camp
Campo di concentramento di Bolzano 1945
Bolzano in 1945
Bolzano Transit Camp is located in Northern Italy
Bolzano Transit Camp
Location of Bolzano Transit Camp within Northern Italy
Other namesPolizei- und Durchgangslager Bozen
LocationBolzano, Operationszone Alpenvorland
Operated bySS
CommandantWilhelm Harster
Karl Friedrich Titho
Operationalsummer 1944–3 May 1945
InmatesMostly political prisoners, also Italian Jews and Romani people
Number of inmates11,000

History

Stolperstein für Wilhelm Alexander Loew-Cadonna in Bozen (Südtirol)
Stumbling stone (Stolperstein) for the victim Wilhelm Alexander Loew-Cadonna, a Transit camps inmate in 1944

After the Allies signed the Armistice with Italy on September 8, 1943, Bolzano became the headquarters of the Prealpine Operations Zone and came under the control of the Nazi army. When the internment camp in Fossoli became vulnerable to Allied attack, it was dismantled, and a transit camp for prisoners headed for Mauthausen, Flossenbürg, Dachau, Ravensbrück and Auschwitz was set up in Bolzano.

Operational from the summer of 1944 and located in buildings previously occupied by the Italian Army, the transit camp hosted about 11,000 prisoners from middle and northern Italy in its ten months of activity. Although the camp's population consisted mostly of political opponents, Jewish[1] and gypsy deportees also passed through its barracks.

A portion of the prisoners—approximately 3,500 people Lagers, while the rest were assigned to work in loco as free labour, either in the camp workshops and labs, in local firms, or in the apple orchards.
The interned prisoners were freed between April 29 and May 3, 1945, when the camp was closed to prevent the advancing Allied troops from witnessing its living conditions and (presumably) to eliminate evidence. The SS troops destroyed all documentation relating to camp activities before withdrawing, following the standing order that no trace be left behind.

The camp

The camp was originally set to host 1,500 people. For this purpose, two sheds were divided into six blocks, one of which was reserved for women. The camp was then progressively enlarged until it reached a stated capacity of 4,000 prisoners.

As was customary in Nazi internment camps, each block was assigned a letter and a specific "type" of prisoner. In block A lived permanent residents, who were treated somewhat better than the others because of their involvement in essential camp activities (especially administration); in blocks D and E were kept political prisoners, regarded by the Nazis as the greatest danger and therefore kept segregated from other prisoners; block F was reserved for women and the occasional child.

Jewish male deportees, whose transit was often short-lived, were crammed in block L. There was also a prison block hosting approximately 50 inmates.

The camp was directed by the Verona SS, whose chief was the Brigadeführer (brigade general) of Gestapo Wilhelm Harster; the camp's executive directors were Untersturmführer Karl Friedrich Titho and Hauptscharführer Haage, who headed a garrison of German, Swiss and Ukrainian soldiers.

Sub-camps

Bolzano camp was the only one, in Italy, to have attached forced-labour camps. Of these, the most important ones were in Merano, Schnals, Sarntal, Moos in Passeier and Sterzing.

Resistance

As in most camps where political prisoners abounded, a resistance movement arose, organized along three axes:

  • a political wing, organized by the CLN and some partigiani;
  • a movement spearheaded by priests (most of them, accused of having helped wanted civilians, were imprisoned along with those they had sought to protect);
  • spontaneous acts of civil resistance by citizens who sought to prevent deportation of others, protected escaped prisoners, or attempted to organize escapes from the camp.

Trials

In November 2000, the military court of Verona sentenced Michael Seifert, a Ukrainian SS known in the camp as "Misha", to life in prison for the atrocities he committed against deportees, particularly those held in the jail block.

The relative recency of this trial is because the case had remained hidden for decades and resurfaced with the discovery of the so-called armadio della vergogna (lit., "the wardrobe of shame") in 1994. Among the prisoners that Seifert and his accomplice Otto Sein tortured was a young Mike Bongiorno, an American POW who would go on to become one of Italy's most beloved TV figures after war.

Seifert, who had emigrated to Canada after the war, had to face 18 counts of murder and 15 additional counts of misconduct. He was tracked down in Vancouver, only days before the trial was to begin, by a reporter working for the Vancouver Sun, who acted upon information provided by the Associazione nazionale ex deportati politici nei campi nazisti (ANED) (National Association of former political deportees to Nazi internment camps).

His story was reconstructed by the Italian historians Giorgio Mezzalira and Carlo Romeo in the book entitled Mischa, jailer of the Bolzano lager.

A separate trial of the camp directors, Titho and Haage, had taken place in 1999, with a different outcome: Titho was absolved for lack of evidence,[2] while Haage was sentenced posthumously.

Sources

  1. Feragni, Enea (1945). Un uomo, tre numeri. Milan: Speroni.
  2. Agosti, Giannantonio (1968). Nei lager vinse la bontà. Memorie dell'internamento nei campi di eliminazione tedeschi. Edizioni missioni estere dei padri Cappuccini.
  3. Happacher, Luciano (1979). Il Lager di Bolzano, con appendice documentaria. Trento.
  4. Wetzel, Juliane (1994). Das Polizeidurchgangslager Bozen. In: Wolfgang Benz, Barbara Distel: Die vergessenen Lager (Dachauer Hefte 5). Munich.
  5. Mezzalira, Giorgio (1995). "Mischa". L'aguzzino del Lager di Bolzano. Bolzano.
  6. Giacomozzi, Carla (1995). L'ombra del buio / Schatten, die das Dunkel wirft. Stadt Bozen / Comune di Bolzano.
  7. Mezzalira, Giorgio (2002). Anche a volerlo raccontare è impossibile. Bolzano: Circolo ANPI di Bolzano.
  8. Pfeifer, Barbara (2003). Im Vorhof des Todes. Das Polizeiliche Durchgangslager Bozen 1944–1945. Innsbruck: University of Innsbruck.
  9. Rauch, Anita (2003). Polizeiliches Durchgangslager Bozen. Innsbruck: University of Innsbruck.
  10. Venegoni, Dario (2004). Uomini, donne e bambini nel Lager di Bolzano. Una tragedia italiana in 7,982 storie individuali. Milan: Mimesis. ISBN 978-88-8483-224-5.
  11. Venegoni, Dario (2004). Männer, Frauen und Kinder im Durchgangslager von Bozen. Eine italienische Tragödie in 7800 persönlichen Geschichten. Bolzano.
  12. Ratschiller, Ludwig (2005). Autobiografia di un partigiano. Bolzano: Circolo ANPI di Bolzano.
  13. Villani, Cinzia (2005). Va una folla di schiavi. Lager di Bolzano e lavoro coatto (1944-1945). Geschichte und Region/Storia e regione, 15, p. 113-146.
  14. Mayr, Sabine; Obermair, Hannes (2014). Sprechen über den Holocaust. Die jüdischen Opfer in Bozen — eine vorläufige Bilanz. Der Schlern, 88,3, pp. 4-36. ISSN 0036-6145.
  15. Di Sante, Costantino (2018). Criminali del campo di concentramento di Bolzano. Deposizioni, disegni, foto e documenti inediti. Bolzano: Edition Raetia. ISBN 978-88-7283-674-3.

References

  1. ^ Bolzano Police Transit Camp
  2. ^ Schwarzer, Marianne (17 February 2016). "Dem „Henker von Fossoli" blieb ein Prozess auf deutschem Boden erspart" [The „Executor of Fossoli“ is spared from a trial on German soil]. Lippische Landes-Zeitung (in German). Retrieved 9 September 2018.

Coordinates: 46°29′04″N 11°19′12″E / 46.48444°N 11.32000°E

Ada Buffulini

Ada Buffulini (28 September 1912 - 3 July 1991) was an Italian doctor and anti-Fascist campaigner.

Bolzano

Bolzano (UK: , US: , Italian: [bolˈtsaːno] (listen) or [bolˈdzaːno]; German: Bozen (formerly Botzen), pronounced [ˈboːtsn̩]; Austro-Bavarian: Bozn; Ladin: Balsan or Bulsan) is the capital city of the province of South Tyrol in northern Italy. With a population of 107,436, Bolzano is also by far the largest city in South Tyrol and the third largest in Tyrol. The metropolis has about 250,000 inhabitants and is one of the urban centers within the Alps.Bolzano is the seat of the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, where lectures and seminars are held in English, German, and Italian. The city is also home to the Italian Army's Alpini High Command (COMALP) and some of its combat and support units.In the 2014 version of the annual ranking of quality of life in Italian cities, Bolzano was ranked as having the Best Quality of Life in Italy.Along with other Alpine towns in South Tyrol, Bolzano engages in the Alpine Town of the Year Association for the implementation of the Alpine Convention. The Convention aims to promote and achieve sustainable development in the Alpine Arc. Consequently, Bolzano was awarded Alpine Town of the Year 2009.

Bolzano is considered as a bridge between North and South due to the three spoken languages in South Tyrol (Italian, German, and Ladin) and the confluence of Italian and German-Austrian culture.

Calogero Marrone

Calogero Marrone (12 May 1889 – 15 February 1945) was an Italian public servant.

He has been the chief of the Civil Registry office in the municipality of Varese, Lombardy, during the Fascist Era and the Nazi occupation and released hundreds of fake identity cards in order to save Jews and anti-fascists. He was arrested after an anonymous tip-off and died in the Dachau concentration camp. He has been awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations.

Fossoli camp

The Fossoli camp (Italian: Campo di Fossoli) was an internment camp in Italy, established during World War II and located in the village Fossoli, Carpi, Emilia-Romagna. It began as a prisoner of war camp in 1942, later being a Jewish concentration camp, then a police and transit camp, a labour collection centre for Germany and, finally, a refugee camp, before closing in 1970.

It is estimated that 2,844 Jews passed through this camp, 2,802 of whom were then deported.

Karl Friedrich Titho

Karl Friedrich Titho (14 May 1911 – 18 June 2001) was a Germany military officer (ranked SS-Untersturmführer), who as commander of the Fossoli di Carpi and Bolzano Transit Camps oversaw the Cibeno Massacre in 1944. Titho was jailed in the Netherlands after World War II for other war crimes committed there, released in 1953, and then deported to Germany. Despite an arrest warrant in Italy in 1954 Titho was never extradited to stand trial for his actions in Italy, and died in Germany in 2001, confessing and repenting his role in the atrocities just days before his death.

List of Germans convicted of war crimes committed in Italy during World War II

This is a list of Germans convicted of war crimes committed in Italy during World War II. War crimes in Italy were committed by both the Wehrmacht and the SS, which in turn was sub-divided into the combat forces of the Waffen-SS and the security and police forces of the Allgemeine-SS. Research in 2016 in the form of the Atlas of Nazi and Fascist Massacres in Italy, funded by the German government, found the number of victims of Nazi German and Fascist Italian war crimes to be 22,000. The victims were primarily Italian civilians, sometimes in retaliation to partisan attacks. Thousands of others were murdered because they were Jewish.The perpetrators of most documented war crimes are unknown. Of those whose identities are known, only a small number were ever tried. After the war, both governments focused on improving Germany-Italy relations, rather than bringing war criminals to justice. This tendency was exacerbated by the prominence of former Nazis in the West German government and Italy's fears that its own citizens would be held accountable for crimes committed while Italy was part of the Axis. In addition, the Christian Democracy party in power in Italy after the war would not have benefitted politically from drawing attention to the Communist-dominated Italian resistance.Recently, Italy has tried a number of German war criminals in absentia due to Germany's refusal to extradite them. These convicted criminals can avoid serving their prison sentences by remaining in Germany. Germany's refusal to extradite war criminals to Italy or prosecute them in German courts has ignited controversy. The response to Germany's refusal to extradite eight Germans convicted in absentia for the murder of 560 Italian civilians at Sant'Anna di Stazzema led to the German government's decision to fund research into war crimes committed by Axis forces in Italy.Only a very small number of German military personnel were placed on trial in Italy in the first five years after the war, up to 1951. After 1951 only a hand full of trials were conducted until 1996, when the case against Erich Priebke started a new wave of court cases. By then, in many cases, because decades elapsed between the crimes and their prosecution, the accused either had died already, died during the court case or were deemed too old to be extradited or serve time in jail. An example of those is the San Cesario sul Panaro massacre, where twelve civilians were killed and where three of the four officers accused died before the trial commenced in 2004 and the fourth one died on the second day of the trial, leaving the massacre without legal repercussions for the perpetrators.

Michael Seifert (SS guard)

Michael Seifert (16 March 1924 – 6 November 2010) was an SS guard in Italy during World War II.

He was an ethnic German born in Landau (present-day Mykolaiv Oblast, Ukraine). Dubbed the "Beast of Bolzano", he was convicted in absentia in 2000 by a military tribunal in Verona, Italy, on nine counts of murder, committed while he was an SS guard at the Bolzano Transit Camp, northern Italy.

He was sentenced to life in prison and extradited on 17 February 2008, from Canada to Italy. His crimes involved actions taken in a prison camp in Bolzano from 1944 to 1945. At his trial, witnesses accused him of leaving a prisoner to starve to death, raping and killing a pregnant woman, and gouging an inmate's eyes out.Avi Benlolo, president of the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies in Canada, noted that Seifert's imprisonment "sets an example for other war criminals, not only Nazi war criminals, but war criminals related to Rwanda, Bosnia, Darfur, or any other genocide, that there's no time limit to justice".After his extradition to Italy from Canada, Seifert was held in an Italian military prison in Santa Maria Capua Vetere. Prosecutors from Italy and Germany intended to interview him regarding other war crimes that may have taken place at Bolzano.He died in 2010 in Santa Maria after having been transferred to a hospital from the Capua Vetere prison. He was buried in a cemetery near Caserta after his body went unclaimed by friends and relatives. [1]

Operational Zone of the Alpine Foothills

The Operational Zone of the Alpine Foothills (German: Operationszone Alpenvorland (OZAV); Italian: Zona d'operazione Prealpi) was a Nazi German district in the sub-Alpine area created in Italian territory during World War II.

Palazzo Cesi-Gaddi war crimes archive

The Palazzo Cesi-Gaddi war crimes archive or armoire of shame (Italian: armadio della vergogna) is a wooden cabinet discovered in 1994 inside a large storage room in Palazzo Cesi-Gaddi, Rome which, at the time, housed the chancellery of the military attorney's office. The cabinet contained an archive of 695 files documenting war crimes perpetrated on Italian soil under fascist rule and during Nazi occupation after the September 8, 1943 armistice between Italy and Allied armed forces. The actions described in the records spanned several years and took place in various areas of the country, from the southern city of Acerra to the northern province of Trieste and as far east as the Balkans; it remains unclear, to this day, how the archive remained concealed for so long, and who gave the order to hide the files in the immediate post-war period.

Stolpersteine in Liguria

Stolpersteine is the German name for small, cobble stone-sized memorials collocated all over Europe by German artist Gunter Demnig. They remember the fate of the victims of Nazi Germany being murdered, deported, exiled or driven to suicide. The first Stolperstein in Genoa, the capital of the Italian region of Liguria, was collocated in January 2012.

Generally, the stumbling blocks are posed in front of the building where the victims had their last self chosen residence. The Stolperstein for Riccardo Reuven Pacifici was collocated at the site of his arrest. The name of the Stolpersteine in Italian is pietre d'inciampo.

The list is sortable; the basic order follows the alphabet according to the last name of the victim.

The Holocaust in Italy

The Holocaust in Italy was the persecution, deportation, and murder of Jews between 1943 and 1945 in the Italian Social Republic, the part of the Kingdom of Italy occupied by Nazi Germany after the Italian surrender on September 8, 1943, during World War II.

The oppression of Italian Jews began in 1938 with the enactment of Racial Laws of segregation by the fascist regime of Benito Mussolini. Before the Italian surrender in 1943, however, Italy and the Italian occupation zones in Greece, France and Yugoslavia had been places of relative safety for local Jews and European Jewish refugees. This changed in September 1943, when German forces occupied the country, installed the puppet state of the Italian Social Republic and immediately began persecuting and deporting the Jews found there. Italy had a pre-war Jewish population of 40,000 but, through evacuation and refugees, this number increased during the war. Of the estimated 50,000 Jews living in Italy before September 1943, some 8,000 died during the Holocaust (mostly at Auschwitz), while 40,000 survived. In this, the Italian police and Fascist militia played an integral role as the Germans' accessories.

While most Italian concentration camps were police and transit camps, one camp, the Risiera di San Sabba in Trieste, was also an extermination camp. It is estimated that up to 5,000 mostly political prisoners were murdered there.

The Holocaust in Italy has received comparatively little attention. For example, until the 1990s, no publication dealt with the history of the Italian concentration camps.

Timeline of Bolzano

The following is a timeline of the history of the city of Bolzano/Bozen in the Trentino-South Tyrol region of Italy.

Vittore Bocchetta

Vittore Bocchetta (born November 15, 1918 in Sassari, Sardinia) is an Italian sculptor, painter, and academic. Bocchetta was a member of the anti-fascist Italian resistance movement during World War II.

Wilhelm Harster

Wilhelm Harster (b 21 July 1904 – 25 December 1991) was a high-ranking member in the SS and a Holocaust perpetrator during the Nazi era. He was twice convicted for his crimes by the Netherlands and later by West Germany. He had been employed by the government of Bavaria as a civil servant and was let go with a full pension after a public outcry.

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