He was 99 years old. At 19 he approached the Resistance, joining Justice and Freedom.
Journalist Francesca Laura Wronowski De Topòr, Giacomo Matteotti’s last granddaughter, has died at the age of 99. “Hello Laura, hello Partisan. A great pain”, writes the National Association of Partisans of Italy, announcing her disappearance.
At the age of 19 Wronowski approached the Resistance, joining the partisan brigade Justice and Freedom, named after his uncle Giacomo Matteotti and led by his brother-in-law Antonio Zolesio, (the commander “Umberto”) husband of his sister Natalia. On the membership card of the Volunteer Freedom Corps her battle name as a partisan relay was “Kiky”, but officially she decided to use the middle first name, Laura. You took part in numerous partisan actions, including the liberation of twenty Jewish prisoners from the Calvari camp.
After the war, Laura Wronowski embarked on a journalistic career, turning professional in 1951. She married Massimo Fabbri and when her son Maurizio was born, she decided to leave her job. Later she testified at length to her young people about her experience as a partisan and the value of memory with meetings in schools.
In 2016 Laura Wronowski was awarded by the Ministry of Defense with the Medal of Liberation, on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Liberation. In 2018 you received the “Renato Benedetto Fabrizi” national award for your efforts in defending national freedom during your youth. Also in 2018 you received the Golden Ambrogino from the Municipality of Milan.
She was born on 1 January 1924 in Milan to Casimiro Wronowski de Topòr, a journalist for the “Corriere della Sera”, and to Nella Titta, whose sister Velia was the wife of the socialist deputy Giacomo Matteotti. Matteotti’s assassination by fascist assassins on 10 June 1924 dramatically marks the existence of the family. The fascistisation of the “Corriere della Sera”, which in November 1925 led to the ouster of Luigi Albertini from the direction of the newspaper, led to the resignation of various anti-fascist personalities who collaborated with the masthead, including Laura’s father. The family was therefore forced by the worsening economic conditions to move to Liguria, where they also welcomed Matteotti’s children and experienced a situation of nagging police control. On September 8, 1943 Laura Wronowski chose the Resistance.
On 9 September 1943 Laura went up to Valfontabuona, in the province of Genoa, for the first time by bicycle. In fact, it was she who was responsible for climbing the mountains to choose a location that guaranteed a minimum of security, and also verifying the availability of the local farmers. Thus began the “his of hers” Resistance of hers, which lasted 18 months, between the fears of a young woman and the thought of what her life would have in store for her. Her first action was to give the partisan “Paolino” – (a young butcher who also made boots, but who in those circumstances had the role of filtering the entry of new elements into the partisan formation) – half a 2 lire banknote; Paolino had the other half, as a sign of recognition. Laura was therefore the first to arrive in Valfontanabuona, precisely because she had the task of evaluating the places and understanding the possibilities of welcoming formation. Here she stayed alone for a couple of days, hosted by a peasant family and then slowly other components of the future formation of Giustizia e Libertà were added. With the nom de guerre “Kiki”, Laura then became the pioneer of the Justice and Freedom training, where she initially performed the tasks of an information relay and then also a handyman nurse.
In December 1943 Antonio Zolezio – husband of his sister Natalia and therefore brother-in-law of Laura – was sent to Valfontanabuona, where together with PierLorenzo Wronowski (brother of Laura), Giulio Bertonelli (“Balbi”), his Genoese cousins Gaetano and Edoardo Basevi, Giulio Bottari (“Avvocato Rocca”), and other shareholders, organized a Justice and Freedom department, of which he became commander. In early March 1944, the Matteotti Brigade was then formed, of which Laura became part of the “Antonio Lanfranconi” formation.
Laura’s first real action took place between June and July 1944, the liberation of the Calvari concentration camp. The camp, located in the hamlet of Calvari, precisely in Piani di Coreglia, in the municipality of San Colombano Certenoli, in the province of Genoa, had been called “Campo 52”. It was a camp for civilian internees, initially taking in British, New Zealand and African prisoners and later also Jews. It was a non-bloody episode, without bloodshed. The Brigade had come to know that around thirty people, all middle-aged Jews, were being hosted in the camp at that time. The commander studied well how to proceed, even with the help of two camp guards.
Only after months and months of partisan life did Laura manage to see her mother again, while her father had been arrested following a spy (the mother was not arrested because she suffered from phlebitis) and taken to the “Casa dello Studente” in Genoa, which was became the main headquarters of the Gestapo and in its halls the worst atrocities were perpetrated. As the Liberation approached, realizing that that hard experience was about to end, she asked Commander Zolesio if she too could go down to Genoa, because she wanted to be present at that event.
His story was told by the journalist Zita Dazzi in the book ‘With the soul sideways. The story of resistance and freedom by Laura Wronowski’ (Solferino, 2019).