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Irma Bandiera

8 Aprile 1915 - 14 Agosto 1944


“First among Bolognese women to take up arms to fight in the name of liberty, she always fought with such courage. Captured while fighting the German SS, undergoing ferocious torture, yet she did not speak a word that would compromise her comrades. After she was blinded, she was cruelly slaughtered on the public road. The most pure heroine worthy of the virtues of Italian women, she would be a guiding light for all Bolognese patriots in the war of Liberation.”

Irma Bandiera, battle name “Mimma”, daughter of Angelo and Argentina Manferrari; was born in Bologna and resided here in 1943. She was an elementary school teacher. Irma Bandiera was born in Bologna on 8 April 1915 into a wealthy family, composed of her father Angelo, a construction foreman who during the dictatorship had antifascist sentiments, her mother Argentina Manferrati, herself and her sister Nastia. Irma was beautiful and always known as elegant. In her life, Irma was engaged to her fiancé Federico, a soldier in Crete, who was a prisoner of war from 8 September 1943. The ship he embarked on to be transferred to Germany was bombed and sank at Pireo. Federico was listed as missing-in-action and Mimma and his famiy searched without luck, even going through the Vatican. During the chaos of the Armistice, with the dissolution of the Armed Forces and the abandonment of the monarchy, Irma began to help the disbanded soldiers and became increasingly interested in the politics of the Communist party. Quickly, she joined the Resistance movement, assuming the battle name “Mimma”, together with a university student from the faculty of Medicine Dino Cipollani a young partisan from Argelato (battle name “Marco”) whom she met in Funo, where she often went to visit her relatives. In August 1944 the Liberation movement in Bologna was in a particularly active zone. On 5 August, the partisans assassinated a German office and a commander of the fascist Black Brigade. At midnight on the 6th of August, in Funo, commenced a terrible retaliation on the Partisans, during which three were arrested by Germans and were taken to the school of San Giorgio of Piano. On the evening of the 7th of August, Irma was also arrested at her uncle’s house, together with two others, and was also locked up in the school of San Giorgio, but isolated. She was then moved to Bologna. It is probable that the fascists knew about her and believed that she would give them information.

The family searched for her at the Red barracks (Caserme Rosse) on Via Corticella, then the sorting centre for deportees, in hopes that Irma was among the liberated prisoners of those who attacked the 'gappisti' in the city prison of San Giovanni in Monte on the 9th of August. Together with her sister, her mother continued to search for Irma at the police station and German command on Via Santa Chiara 6/3. Irma resisted the torture until the very end, without ever speaking a word, thus saving her companions. The morning of 14 August, a person informed her relatives that Irma’s body was found on the cobbled street nearby the ICO factory, a manufacturer of cleaning supplies. “Mimma” was left in sight of her torturers for the day, as a terrible warning. Then her body was brought to the Insistute of Legal Medicine on via Irnerio where a caretaker, a friend of the Resistence, photographed her to show the devastating results of torture. She was brought to buried at the Certosa, accompanied by her family and close friends. The Bolognese Federation of the PCL (Partito comunista dei lavoratori - Communist Party of Workers) on 4 September 1944 published an angry letter, printed in secret, in which to tell of Irma’s patriotic sacrifice to incite Bologna to intensify the fight against the Nazis. A SAP brigade (Patriotic Action Team) that operated in the northern suburbs of Bologna and a GDD (Women’s Defense Group) were named after her. She was recognised as a partisan at the end of the war and was decorated with the Gold Medal of Military Valor together with 18 other partisans in Italy.

She is buried in the Ossuary Monument for Partisan Soldiers (Monumento osssario dei partigiani) at the Certosa in Bologna and she is remembered in the Neptune Piazza Memorial for paritsan soldiers and at Villa Spada for womens partisan. In Bologna there is a commemorative plaque honoring her sacrifice on the street named after her. A street is dedicated to her as well in the areas of Argelato, Castel Maggiore, San Giorgio of Piano, Malalbergo and Molinella.

Bandiera Irma known as Mimma: 8 April 1915- 14 August 1944 (according to the press from the time). Title of study: Elementary Teacher. Cause of Death: Aftermath of Torture. Gold Medal of Military Valor.

Translation from italian language by Holly Bean.