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The Comacchio Valleys are an important crossroad in the events of the Second World War, a conflict that for its size and impact marked a real watershed in this region.
A “timeless” landscape is the backdrop for the “men of the valley”, the “boating partisans” who settle in the local houses and carry out their actions guided by experienced boatmen who perfectly know that thick and entangled network of water and land, which is safe for those who know it but dangerous for venturers.

Comacchio is the first city that is liberated by partisans only.

The barrages and the fortified positions.

The Po Delta with its large river arms, its marshes and its man-made canals is the perfect place for the setting up of a part of the Bologna – Comacchio defensive line, better known as “Gengis Khan line”. This is what the Germans think when they get there in 1943; moreover, the destruction of bridges and the construction of fortified positions would stop any possible breakthrough.

From the winter of 1943 the Germans build defensive facilities in Codigoro, anti-landing sea walls close to the current Lidi area and a barrage made of bunkers (small-sized  “tobruk-like” fortifications) in Mesola, along the old Romea road. The allied change of strategy makes this imposing defensive line totally useless. As a matter of fact the Allied troops land in Anzio, in the South, therefore the “Gengis Khan” line is far from the battlefield.

A couple of Resistance fighters

Renata Viganò (Bologna, 1900-1976) and Antonio Meluschi (Vigarano Mainarda, Ferrara, 1909 - Bologna, 1977) join the partisans and become the symbol of the Resistance movement.
Renata, very young author (the lines of the Ginestra in fiore date from 1913) and, after the war, columnist for several newspapers and magazines, she made a name thanks to her novel L’Agnese va a morire (1949), which was turned into a film with the same title by director Giuliano Mondaldo (1976). Renata also reports about the Resistance movement in the novel Donne nella Resistenza (1955), devoted to her female anti-fascist fellow Bolognese citizens and in the short stories of Matrimonio in brigata (1976).
Until the Liberation she supported the Resistance not only by working for the underground press but also as a nurse for injured partisans and as a dispatcher.
Antonio Meluschi, writer and former theatrical critic for the «Corriere Padano», since the beginning of 1944 together with his wife Renata, works on the underground paper published in Imola and called «La Comune». Arrested by the SS, he is tortured and condemned by the Special Court, he escapes and becomes a partisan leader in the Comacchio valleys. His novel La morte non costa niente (1946) is devoted to the Resistance movement; then he edits for ANPI a collection of first-hand tales about the fight for freedom in the Bolognese area, Romagna Epopea partigiana (1948), and while his past as Resistance fighter in the Ferrara area is told in the novel L’armata in barca (1978).
Between the end of October 1944 and the spring of 1945, “the Doctor” – his nickname – leads the 35 bis Garibaldi Brigade named “Mario Babini”, which includes three local units: the “Mazzini” unit in the Argenta area, the “Agida Cavalli” unit in the Filo area and the “Edgardo Fogli” unit in the Comacchio area, the base being located in the Piguréra farmhouse [literally; the Shepherdess house], between Mulino di Filo and the Valleys.
 
Edgardo Fogli, a “dangerous subversive”

A plaque put by the Comacchio Municipality on the facade of N°46 of the current street named after the partisan hero, honours his house in Comacchio, where he was born in 23 May, 1901, After serving in the financial police (1920-1923) he joins the Ferrara resistance unit. He was arrested and brought to trial several times, he then goes to France and Moscow, then comes back to Paris and then back to Italy to join the anti-fascist fight. Once he gets free on September 8 September 1943, he joins the partisans of the 35Garibaldi Brigade in the Comcchio Valleys.

For some months the partisans led by Fogli succeed in hindering the ferries that deliver supplies to the Nazis and the fascists. Wanted by the Police, he is then arrested upon a tip-off and then interrogated and tortured to get information. However, he does not say a single word. He was mowed down in Comacchio at the dawn of January 29 1945 together with  Giovanni Farinelli, Giuseppe Ghirardelli and Vittorio Bulgarelli.
The President of the Italian Republic Giuseppe Saragat gave him the Gold Medal of Military Valour with the following reason: “Brave partisan fighter, he was among the first to join the resistance movement and showed incredible skills as a fighter, organizer and leader. His battalion used to join all the most challenging missions in the tricky and dangerous water valleys, destroying several opposing ferries and provoking huge human and material losses. After a long chase he was finally arrested and tortured. However, he did not utter a single word likely to damage the Resistance until when the enemy, enraged by such a strong will, killed him brutally. He was a shining example of adamant pride and fervent love for his homeland.”
 
A 21 year old vetern: : Vincenzino Folegatti

After September 8, 1943, Vincenzino Folegatti an Italian military soldier joins the Partisans. Thanks to his perfect knowledge of the valley labyrinth he joins dangerous actions and also shares the missions of the “Mario Gordini” 28th Garibaldi Brigade such as the “Battle of the Valleys” of the beginning of April 1945 for the conquest of north of the Reno lands and also the final attack later on the same month. On April 18  Vincenzino while rescuing an endangered mate dies following the blow of a landmine in Valle Paviero close to the  Bingotta farm.

In the middle of the countryside, at a 7 km distance from Comacchio towards Ostellato, in an area, which was later reclaimed, a memorial stone honours his memory.
In the Comacchio city centre a square was named after the young Folegatti to honour his memory.
 
 
Texts by the Institute of Contemporary History of Ferrara

    

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