Milena Bernabò

30.12.1928 -
Young Milena Bernabò. © Iole Bottari private archive

Milena Bernabò was fifteen years old on August 12, 1944. She was rounded up together with other people and locked up in a stable. The Nazis shot and set fire. Milena was wounded but managed to save herself and save three other young survivors.

Milena Bernabò was 15 years old on the day of the Sant’Anna di Stazzema massacre. She had gotten up early to fetch water from a nearby spring when she saw a column of Nazis approaching in the distance. Frightened, she returned home, to raise the alarm and to discuss what to do with her sister and three other young friends. In their plans they should have reached a place called Ponte Rosso to buy some commodities. Although they were very afraid, they all decided to leave together. Shortly afterwards they understood that it would have been better to go back to protect the houses because the Nazis were arriving and everyone knew that in the previous days in Farnocchia and Montornato they had burned the houses and stolen all the goods. When the Nazis arrived Milena and her sister Iole were grouped together with other people from the neighborhood and forced to walk towards Vaccareccia. Milena was locked up in a stable. The Nazis shot and burned everything, Milena was wounded, she had difficulty breathing, yet she managed to see some children still alive: Mauro Pieri who was 12 years old, Mario Ulivi who was 5 years old and Lina Antonucci who was 9 years old. Milena saw an escape route, she climbed onto a wooden plank, went to the upper floor of the stable and there, helped by Mauro, she took Mario and Lina and saved their lives. Once outside the stable they found another surviving child, Ennio Navari. They were found hours later. They were dirty, hurt, shocked.

In the following months Milena lived with her father and with the few survivors in the caves in the woods. They were afraid the Nazis might come back. Only after the war did she return to her old home. On 12 October 2004, the Italian Republic recognized her courage by awarding her the Gold Medal for Civil Valor, as to Genny Bibolotti Marsili, as to Cesira Pardini.