“There’s still a lot I don’t know”
To obtain further information about his grandfather’s fate, Marco Moisello and his wife set out from Italy at the end of January 2018 to visit the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen. The National Socialists had arrested Francesco Moisello in his native Genoa in 1944. He never came home again.
“It’s very important to me to find out what happened to my grandfather,” his grandson explained. Marco Moisello showed us a little folder in which he had gathered all the information he’s been able to find thus far. It has a picture of his grandfather on the cover. Francesco Moisello (b. 1905) joined the resistance after Germany occupied Genoa in 1944 in response to Italy’s entry into the war on the side of the Allies. He helped partisans in hiding and families of deportees by providing them with food and money. In July 1944, he came to the notice of the occupiers and was arrested.
One document in the ITS archive mentions September 7, 1944 as the day on which he was registered at the Flossenbürg concentration camp, where he had been sent by the occupation authorities in Verona. On the 30th of that month, he was deported to the Hersbruck subcamp to perform forced labor. The inmates of Hersbruck worked in shifts to create a system of underground tunnels for a planned armaments factory. They stood little chance of surviving—as a result of the extremely heavy labor and abominable living conditions, some 4,000 persons perished in Hersbruck, among them Francesco Moisello. According to the camp death register, he died on December 2, 1944.
As Marco looked through the original documents, he came across the Flossenbürg index card recording his grandfather’s effects. It was a very special moment. The card precisely lists the clothing Francesco was wearing when he arrived at the camp: a cap, a jacket, a pair of trousers, a vest and a pair of shoes. It also bears his signature as confirmation that he had turned in these items. When his grandson saw the slightly shaky handwriting more than seventy years later, he was deeply moved.
The effects card also states that Francesco had been deported to Flossenbürg by way of the Bolzano transit camp. Now Marco wants to concentrate on the weeks between his grandfather’s arrest and the deportation to Germany. All he has at present are hunches as to what camps or prisons Francesco might have been held prisoner in. The fact that he has no information whatsoever about this period weighs heavily on Marco.
The ITS will support him in his search for the last remaining pieces of the puzzle, for example by supplying him with addresses for further inquiries or putting him in touch with some of its partner institutions. “It’s not easy to find documents in Italy,” commented Marco, who took advantage of the opportunity to carry out research on his own in the digitalized documents of the ITS during his visit.