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70 years after WWII, mum and daughter reunite

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70 years after WWII, mum and daughter reunite
A stock photo of a woman. Photo: Nicole Pierce/Flickr Creative Commons.
08:44 CEST+02:00
A 92-year-old Italian woman and her German-born daughter, who were separated at the end of the Second World War, have been reunited in Italy after decades apart.

Last weekend's emotional reunion was made possible thanks to a search led by the Germany-based International Tracing Service (ITS), which specializes in reuniting people separated by conflict, and the Italian Red Cross, which has an international mandate to assist in such searches.

In 1944, the mother from Emilia-Romagna became pregnant by a married German soldier while she was working in Germany.

As soon as the child was born, she was taken from the mother and raised by the father and his wife, along with their own sons and daughters.

The mother was led to believe that the baby had died shortly after being born, and returned to her hometown of Novellara when the war ended.

As the child grew up in a small town outside Frankfurt, the father told her that her mother was Italian, but had died during the war and would not allow his daughter to ask anymore questions about her maternal parent.

But two years ago, after the death of her father, Margot Bachmann, now 71, decided she wanted to know more about her biological mother, who she believed to be long dead.

With the support of her own daughter, she went to the ITS to try to see what she could discover.

Incredibly, the search revealed that after 70 years, her mother was still alive. Since returning to Italy, she had never left her hometown and was eventually located by the ITS and Italian Red Cross.

"It required a lot of time. We have a database of 30 million documents that we needed to search and fortunately we managed to find the mother's pension request," a spokesperson for the ITS told The Local.

"We only manage to reunite a handful of people like this each year."

Speaking of the emotional reunion in Novellara, Bachmann told La Repubblica: "I started the search hoping to find out more but I never thought I would be able to embrace my mother in my arms."

A spokesperson for the Italian Red Cross, Laura Bastianetto, explained how extraordinary the reunion was.

“We have witnessed a small miracle. It's very rare for a mother and daughter to find each other after 70 years. Usually it's brothers and sisters we end up reuniting – there aren't that many Second World War survivors left.

“Now that the two families have been reunited, no doubt there will be plenty of trips between Germany and Italy. They have so much to tell each other and it's great that the mother, who believed her child to be dead, will have the chance to make up for lost time.” 

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