Lamberto and the Resistance

curated by Isotta Bottaccioli and Francesco Deplanu

After the 8th of September 1943 Lamberto Beatini, coming from a  family of republican faith, at 19 he refused the call to arms of the Republic of Salò e  together with a friend he went into the woods; after a few months he was captured and locked up in the prison of Perugia;  Lamberto besides the fear of not leaving that place said "being imprisoned because you refuse war, weapons, violence, oppression, injustices is something that causes you pain and a lot of anger". He saved himself and over the years he became the "Maestrone", a man of the school so called because he was more than 1.90 cm tall. Years ago he told his second wife, Isolde, what happened in that period.

Isotta recounts: “ rather than fighting alongside the Nazi-fascists, many young people preferred the bush. Making this courageous choice was very dangerous because we were considered deserters and, if caught, punishable by the death penalty ”. Lamberto made this choice one evening in September 1943 together with a friend of his from Umbria, Antonelli, left  towards S. Cristina. The two walked through woods and fields and tired, they stopped behind a haystack not far from a farmhouse. They lay down on a pile of straw and suddenly fell asleep. During the night it started to rain but the two noticed it when they woke up wet and dirty. After a "sgrullata" they set off again and finally reached S. Cristina where, bravely, they were hosted by a relative of Antonelli. A different life began for Lamberto and his partner. 

Early in the morning they left the host family and were hiding in the nearby woods, returning at dusk. Some evenings, through shortcuts and away from the main road, they went to Lamberto's sister, Costantina known as Gosta, in Civitella Benazzone who, as soon as she saw them, began to make her good tagliatelle. With a full stomach they resumed their way back in the middle of the night.

The mother Anna, to see her son again, following alternative routes to the normal ones because she was afraid of being followed, in the early morning she left Umbertide to go to S. Cristina. The road ahead was long and there were many climbs, but for her there were no obstacles, no weariness; the goal was too precious not to be reached at any cost. When the carabinieri knocked on the door of the Beatini family to ask where the deserter son was, the mother replied: << I wish I knew! I would run to him. I really want to see him again. >>.

The two deserters spent three months in the bush and in December, perhaps due to a spying on them, they were discovered and taken to prison in Perugia. The stay lasted six months and marked Lamberto so much that when he recounted certain episodes, after so many years, his eyes were shadowed by so much sadness and sometimes tears.  

 

After having crossed the door of the prison that Lamberto called << college of Piazza Partigiani >>, his personal details were taken, his fingerprints were taken, everything he had in his pockets was removed, his belt and shoelaces were removed. While awaiting questioning, he was placed in a small cell with other inmates. A few days later he began his tiring interrogation. For a few hours he was asked the same question very firmly and harshly, always in the hope of making him fall into contradiction. So much was the mental fatigue and tension that from the high shoulders  sweat was coming out of his coat. At the end of the long interrogation a graduate entered who abruptly asked Lamberto for his personal details. << I'm Lamberto Beatini, son of Antonio and Anna Gregori >>. At this name the Captain stood up and after a loud blasphemy he said \ u0026lt; \ u0026lt; Are you Anna's son? Do you know your mom is my milk sister? but what did you make me do ... >>. But by now Lamberto was in prison, the gear had been set in motion and the superior was also a prisoner of certain laws. For two or three days Lamberto was fasting because the food of the "college" just looking at him made his stomach sick. On the third day, hunger prevailed and he managed to eat a soup where bits of cabbage leaves floated among a few stars of fat. A  once he removed 17 flies from the broth before eating it.

" In his cell they put a man from Torgiano accused of insulting the fascist party. While he was reading a manifesto of the regime signed by the notorious Rocchi, he voluntarily made a huge burp. It happened that at that moment a fanatic fascist hierarch passed by who, taking the poor man for the collar of his jacket, scrambled him and denounced him.The man was tried and sentenced to a prison sentence.The unfortunate fell into a bad depression could not eat.

Not far from Lamberto's cell, on the so-called death row, there was a convict. Nobody knew the reason for the sentence, but everyone thought it was for political reasons. The guards said that the young man knew he was going to die and every time they opened his cell, the young man changed. His body tensed and his complexion turned yellow, as if his blood stopped. This swing of very strong emotions made him lose all hair and hair. Once Lamberto saw him pass between two agents and I am impressed by his thin head, smooth, shiny as a billiard ball, by his thin and blood lips and by two black eyes without lashes and eyebrows that seem to come out of their sockets. That night Lamberto did not sleep  because he always had before him the hallucinating visions of this young man. Fortunately, the war ended and the poor fellow was released from prison. Every time he recounted this episode on Lamberto's face one could read the suffering and also the anger at the bestiality of war and dictatorship. A different fate touches another young anti-fascist who was shot a few days before the liberation. This was Mario Bricchi, whose sister Gloria was a high school companion of Maria Teresa Beatini, nephew of Lamberto. "

Isotta tells that Lamberto used to tell ...  "When my daughter Anna asked me what was the best day of your life I replied: the day I got out of prison. Anna was upset because she knows how much I wanted it, the great love I feel for her. But Anna is a joy that I have tasted minute by minute since I learned it existed, for eight months  he was the center of my thoughts, so his birth was a long and beautiful wait. My release was, however, the end of a great nightmare of which I was not sure I could get out alive. Often when i  my companions slept, I too closed my eyes and began to dream. I dreamed of my future  beautiful, serene, bright, full of girls and love; instead I opened my eyes and saw darkness, not a glimmer of light. Hope alternated with despair and resignation.

A whirlwind of emotions me  it invaded continuously. Being imprisoned at twenty for your ideas that you find human right, being imprisoned because you refuse war, weapons, violence, oppression, injustices is something that causes you pain and a lot of anger. I remember, still with sorrow and sadness, long afternoons in April and May, when behind the bars I glimpsed trees with their new leaves, when the spring air full of perfumes entered the cell, when you could hear the loving calls of birds and the voices playful of children playing in the street. It was the time of memories, of nostalgia, of sadness. Then I would lie down on my "straw mattress" and think of my family and my friends who free, they could be among themselves, be with their girlfriends, have lunch and dinner with their loved ones, look and touch the spring. Certain sensations, both good and bad, cannot be told, but must be lived to know what one feels and to be innocent in prison, at twenty years old, when someone like me who loves life, light, the heat of the sun, colors, people, freedom, love, is a condition that I do not wish on anyone. "...

 

Isotta continues: "On June 13, 1944, the day of St. Anthony, the prison door opened for Lamberto and his friend Antonelli. Outside the prison door two stopped, looked  360 degrees and took a long sigh of relief. They were free together and began a journey that would bring them home. Passing by chance they arrived at Ponte Felcino in Ponte Valleceppi where grandmother Clorinda lived. They all presented themselves happy about his house, but immediately they cooled down because some German soldiers found him in the house. The moment was embarrassing, but grandmother Clorinda understood the situation and speaking and  gesticulating he made the Germans understand that two of them were mentally ill. Which was not difficult because Lamberto, due to the absence of movement, was so swollen that it seemed swollen. He wore trousers that reached the calf of his legs, wore two shoes without very broken laces, the jacket covered the back and a little of the front, the sleeves reached just below the elbow. On the contrary Antonelli, also tall, was dry, lanky, frightened, I looked like a dead man walking. The fact is that the Germans, as if frightened, said goodbye and left. Grandmother Clorinda then greeted them with great warmth, kissing and hugging them, then, quickly, quickly, she began to cook. After being  refreshed, they set out along the railway in the direction of  Umbertide. In Ponte Pattoli  They separated. Antonelli headed for Santa Cristina where he would find his family displaced by relatives, Lamberto continued in the direction of Umbertide. The road was very long, the boots became heavier and heavier, the damaged and swollen feet no longer fit inside the shoes and began to bleed; finally he arrived in Montecorona and felt relieved, in sight of the town he thought  to the meeting that his loved ones. He headed for the house of "Guardengolo", a farmer who gave hospitality to his family and that of his brother Pietro. Meanwhile, from the loggia of the farmhouse, mother Anna and Pietro's wife Marietta saw at the end of the road a big fat man walking with difficulty. The two women, a little frightened because they were alone, wondered who he was and what he wanted. As Lamberto approached he made signs of greeting  with his arms but the two women remained impassive. Only a few meters away did they recognize him. The mother Anna started running crying with joy and hugged her son in an embrace that never seemed to end. "

 

On 23 July 1944 Lamberto, together with 21 other people from Umberto I, gave life to the Local Committee for National Liberation in the hall of the municipal council. After the war Lamberto yes  he adapted to do many small jobs: it was important and necessary to bring something home because it was needed. He worked for the Land Registry, for the Municipality, then he began to study for the master's degree competition which he passed brilliantly. He taught  in Colmotino di Cascia, in Reschio, in Civitella Ranieri, ad  Umbertide ... then dissatisfied with the teaching he began  to work in the secretariat of the elementary school, a job that he did with seriousness, commitment and great competence until 1979. We report here the letter of greeting from Director Candido Palazzetti when Lamberto left school.

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Maestro Beatini on the step and Director Candido Palazzetti on his left,  to his right the other Director Spadoni.

In the photos at the beginning we have  we report the documents of the Anpi as a "partisan" and the card of the CGIL, the union close to the communist party to which Lamberto joined. Here under the public recognition that the mayor of Umbertide Celestino Sonaglia, in 1974, gave to Lamberto for his being a partisan. 

In the meantime Lamberto had committed himself body and soul  to give life and strength to the section of the Avis of Umbria, donating from the very beginning in person, even directly, that blood that he did not want to shed.  In 1959, in fact, Dr. Mariano Migliorati promoted a "Committee" to set up a first nucleus of donors for the hospital of Umbertide, a "hospital" that had already been downgraded to "nursing" under Fascism but was very active. and working  with the help of the "medical doctors"; this  even after the bombing, in fact, it continued to function in the Serra Partucci headquarters.  The members of the Committee were Lamberto Beatini, Raffaele Mancini, Marta Gandin and Aurelio Nocioni. Two teachers and two Headmasters. Lamberto was the only member of the Committee who was also a donor, and had the card no. 1 of the Avis of Umbertide;  gift  up to the age limit established by law.  He was elected among the first 5 members and also President. Office for which he was re-elected until 1986, when  became "Secretary".

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Image from the Facebook page of Avis di Umbertide

Lamberto always maintained an ideality together with an extraordinary humanity, a social and democratic vision lived and breathed in the family. In his desk he kept among other things the documents of his father Giovanni, probably obtained from his grandfather Costantino, a letter from Giuseppe Mazzini and the "santino" also from Mazzini where he, as a child, had written his name over the period in which he had followed with his father to Cantiano together with his family,  when his father, a former officer in the First World War, played the role of stationmaster. Grandfather Costantino, in fact, was one of the young people of republican faith who tried to oppose the monarchy in Umbertide together with Leopoldo Grilli, who was the animator of the republican circle "Thought and action", Torquato Bucci and   Raffaello Scagnetti.

Lamberto and Celestino Sonaglia during the delivery of a "partisan" medal in 1974

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Costantino Beatini

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Probably the letter is not complete, the final part seems to be missing at the bottom (let's imagine a sheet made up of six squares); it is thought that by their very existence these letters were dangerous and were introduced folded into several parts and perhaps sewn inside the clothes. The letter is from 1868, after the most famous organizations such as "Giovane Italia" and "Giovane Europa" an indomitable Mazzini did not recognize the Savoyard monarchy as legitimate. He therefore continued to profess and organize associations of "republican faith" such as, in this case, "the Universal Republican Alliance" in Lugano. In the text you can read: The purpose of the Section of the All (eanza) Rep (ubblicana) Univ (ersale) in Lugano should be: to pay homage to the principle that requires the political order of  men of republican faith, wherever, few or many, are: they organize multiple means of safe introduction of letters and more from the Canton of Italy: help with the monthly quota of the brothers and with the offers obtained  for just once, the coffers of the Alliance: Try to make Italians, belonging to any class e  in general they should follow the rules contained in the circular of October 1865 if possible. Giuseppe Mazzini.  Nov. 1868 ".

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Antonio Beatini with the black ribbon of the republicans

The letter passed to Lamberto's father, Antonio Beatini, a republican who usually wore the black bow instead of the ties of the time as it was in use among the republicans. Antonio was a supporter of the entry into war against the Austrian Empire in 1915 and wrote in " Il Popolo: organ of the Umbrian-Sabine republicans " on February 6 of that year that it was necessary to go to war against Austria " not out of mania warmonger, but for the protection of the rights and interests of our country, always tampered with and outraged by it ". The  newspaper  carried on Mazzini's ideals, was born  as a party newspaper aimed at aggregating and informing members and supporters. He was suspended for two months in 1915 due to the call to arms of many collaborators,  it was then closed in 1922 with the arrival of fascism.  Antonio also left as an officer despite the 5 children. The letter  it then passed to Lamberto who grew up with different ideals but with the same seriousness and ideality.  

We conclude with a last anecdote reported by Isotta to make people understand the sensitivity and value that every living being had for Lamberto:  " the episode that Lamberto told smiling with such grace is the episode of the little mouse that he managed to teach by becoming his friend. This episode Anna (the daughter), a friend of animals, had it  described in a fourth grade theme whose title was: "the father tells",  here is the transcript: \ u0026lt; \ u0026lt; I was going to buy candies and as I passed on the sidewalk, with the care of the eye, on the road, I saw a dead mouse. Immediately, frightened, I returned  at home. There was my father who, seeing me upset, asked me what had happened. I replied that I had seen a hideous rat squashed with a pancake on the road. It remained a  silent moment then he began to tell: “you know Anna, when I was  there weren't many entertainments in prison and so if we wanted to play checkers, we had to build the pieces ourselves. We put a piece of bread in our mouth and after chewing it for a long time we made balls that we put to dry outside the bars. The next day instead of the balls there were only crumbs. Immediately I thought of a mouse and then I wanted to try to get him back. I put the balls back on the windowsill for  wait for them to dry. The mouse arrived and a little fearful hesitated a little then seeing that I was indifferent approached the balls and began to gnaw. I went up to him, he looked at me with fearful eyes. I stroked him gently on the head and he mounted me  on the arm. A few days passed and the little mouse and I were  already good friends. He got into the habit, when I was lying on the cot, of mounting on my chest and scrape on my shirt. I had to unbutton myself and he would go inside and then fall asleep. In a short time his coat had become long long and shiny, i  his teeth were sharp and he was in good shape. When I got out of the prison I looked for the little mouse but I couldn't find it. I would have taken it away.  I was a little sorry but then he understood  that the little mouse had to go home, he too had his father and mother. " Father had made me understand that even a mouse could be tamed and become a companion of man. >>. ".

Sources:  

- Family archive of the Beatini-Bottaccioli family

- Mario Tosti: " Beautiful works. Information, documents, testimonies and images on life and death events that took place in the Municipality of Umbertide during the Second World War . Edited by Mario Tosti. Municipality of Umbertide, 25 April 1995.

-  Roberto Sciurpa, The Blood of the Fratta. History of the Avis section of Umbertide, Gesp editrice

http://augustaem.comune.perugia.it/scheda.aspx?ID=12&cod=PORU

- http://www.storiatifernate.it/allegati_prod/01-neutralismo.pdf

- photo: Archive fam. Beatini-Bottaccioli