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Leonida Calamida (1906 - 1992)

The partisan who risked his life delivering false papers to Jewish on the run

Leonida Calamida

Leonida Calamida

Testimony of Leonida Calamida from his book "Gli anni del dolore e della rabbia" (The years of suffering and anger), La Pietra editions

"The small lab where Ortensi and I forged the papers was a complex equipment to reproduce documents and cards, to imitate stamps and signatures and other tricks… I also attended the cabinet of a well-known Milanese architect, where I went only to take forged ID cards for Jews, or a trade centre in via Croce Rossa, where one day I came across 4 SS men who were carrying out a raid. Imagine my fear, as the thugs wanted to know who I was and what I was there for. I was saved by a typist near me who told them: "The gentlemen came back to know about the outcome of his application, which, unfortunately, is negative".

If taking the forged material was not an easy task, delivering it was even more difficult. For example, you have to meet with unknown people...Once I was stopped by a roadblock in via Mercanti and rounded up with other civilians… I felt lost… But suddenly I had an idea. I pretended my bike had broken down and, my hands dirty of black oil, asked a fascist soldier to take my document from my pockets. He, fortunately, did not check all the pockets, otherwise, he might have found the cursed identity cards, but only checked I was disarmed and let me go. On that day I felt sick when I reached home, and I fell asleep almost immediately.

... As early as in 1943, in Venegono, I had helped many Jewish Italians expatriate to Switzerland.

Among the Jews whom we had helped there was a married couple in their 50es… They both were scared at crossing the border, so the woman settled at the home of some brave elder people in Arona, while we managed to have her husband hosted at the Fatebenefratelli hospital of Milan with the really brave complicity of the head physician, professor Sostegni, a patriot linked to us. The Jewish man was added to the list of the patients whose conditions had worsened, under a false name, and remained in bed for some months, until the Liberation. And yet hospitals were patrolled by fascists night and day. I learned by chance, at a half of 1945, that the couple had resumed their activity and enjoyed a very good health ".

Reported by his son Renato Michele

Gardens that honour Leonida Calamida

Leonida Calamida is honoured in the Gardens of Castelbuono e Trevi.

You can find a tree also in the Virtual Garden Monte Stella's Stories.

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