Thursday, March 31, 2011
Eugenio Gentili-Tedeschi - Buon Compleanno (Happy Birthday)!
Today we mark the birthday of Eugenio Gentili-Tedeschi (z"l). Eugenio was born in Italy in 1916. While Eugenio came of age under Mussolini, he was exposed to antifascism at a young age, as his hometown of Turin was a hotbed of opposition. The war began to directly affect Eugenio in 1938, when Italy’s racial laws, based on the Nuremberg laws, were put into effect. His father lost his job, and while Eugenio’s family went into hiding, Eugenio traveled to Milan, where the bureaucracy was inefficient enough that he could sit for his university tests without harassment. After scoring top marks, Eugenio went to work as an architect’s apprentice in Milan, where he would stay for several years.
In Milan, Eugenio and his friends tore down the anti-Semitic propoganda posted in the city, their first act of resistance in that city. Eugenio also began to act as a courier, carrying underground pamphlets from a communist print shop in Turin and carrying them to Milan
Eugenio left Milan to escape the bombardment that followed the German invasion and took to the Valle d’Aosta countryside. He eventually connected with the partisans, living in the mountains and sketching scenes of his in the resistance.
Eugenio and his partisan unit kept the mountain trails open for the Allies and kept the Germans pinned down in Italy, preventing reinforcements from reaching the front lines in France. He was personally responsible for hiding the dynamite used to blow up roads and tunnels underneath his bed as well as obtaining supplies needed for daily survival, such as shoes and food. In the fall of 1944, he fought alongside British and American soldiers and then followed the front lines into France before heading back to Rome, where he learned of the liberation of Turin and Milan.
After the war Eugenio settled down to make a life for himself, marrying and continuing his studies. He would eventually become a master architect, as well as a professor at the Polytechnic University of Milan. He died in Milan in 2005.
Hear first-hand from Eugenio during his interview with JPEF and view more of his unique sketches on the JPEF website.
Picture drawn by Eugenio that shows the role of women. Women provided an important service to the partisans by hiking for 12 hours in the high mountains to deliver messages. (Source: JPEF Archive, Italy 1942-1943)
Drawn by Eugenio during the war this picture shows two partisans on an exploration mission of the northern slope of the mountain in the valley. (Source: JPEF Archive, Italy 1942-1943)