Hanau Carlo, Primo Ugo and Secondo Lino

Hanau Carlo, Primo Ugo and Secondo Lino

Hanau Carlo, Primo Ugo and Secondo Lino

by Sara Baretta

On June 10, 1940 the Italians, perhaps without too much surprise, learned that they had entered the war against France and Great Britain. From the historic balcony, broadcast throughout Italy, Mussolini had aroused the enthusiasm of a crowd of Romanites in Piazza Venezia for an unexpected one-day vacation, by transmitting the watchword “win”. Some time before, in absolute secrecy, the preparation of the Urbisaglia internment camp had begun, in the historic building of Villa Giustiniani Bandini, a beautiful and large villa with a park, which had certainly lived through better times.

Further away, in every city of Italy, the ‘lists’ of people unwelcome to fascism were prepared to be subjected to a regime of coercion, mainly of Jewish origin, but not only: there were ‘subversive’ political opponents, residing in Italy at the outbreak of war and stateless people.

In Ferrara the diligent prefect Pallici Di Suni had compiled his list, which also included three members of the Hanau family, classifying ‘pure Jews’ because the Hanau family was all Jewish, even if not practicing, residing for centuries in the Este city: the elderly socialist Carlo, known as ‘Carlon’, due to his tall stature (born in 1871), landlord and professor of shorthand, and his identical twin sons Primo Ugo and Secondo Lino, (born in 1908), commercial agents.

Carlo Hanau

The Hanau family had already been well known at the Ferrara police headquarters for political reasons for quite some time; in particular, his father Carlo was a special controlled since 1898, as a ‘convinced socialist who actively and constantly propagates ideas that subvert the’ current order of things’. We also know from the same reports that that same year he passed from the socialist ranks to the republican ranks, only to be expelled from the party in 1915 because he was against the war. His son Gino Hanau, who died in 1929, had been brutally beaten by the fascists in the first troubled years of the regime. Reports from the police headquarters intensified towards the end of the 1930s, also involving Primo Ugo and Secondo Lino accused of having set up a fund for the collection of money to be donated to the anti-Franco struggle in Spain; their fate was therefore marked more for political reasons than for ‘race’. His brother Max and his wife Giovanna Saralvo, who had never been involved in politics, will instead be interned in the Fossoli concentration camp and from there sent, on April 5, 1944, to the Auschwitz concentration camp, from which they will not return.

Order of internment of Primo Ugo Hanau

On June 4, 1940, the fate of Primo Ugo and his next internment in Urbisaglia had been decided, on the grounds that he ‘son of an old subversive (…) fully shares his father’s theories. Being of a talkative and impulsive character, as soon as the well-known racial laws were taken, on several occasions he manifested his hatred towards the national government ‘; same motivation for Secondo Lino, whose presence in Ferrara, due to his ‘deaf defeatist propaganda (…) he could (..) arouse alarm, depress the public spirit and compromise the nation’s resistance to the enemy’. After a brief detention in the prisons of Ferrara, on June 16 they were sent to Urbisaglia, once the war had already begun.

Secondo Lino Hanau

On June 14, the regulations for the concentration camp were ready: the inmates could not leave the wall of the villa, unless for justified reasons they had to go to Urbisaglia, they could not leave before dawn and had to return before ‘Ave Maria, in case of undisciplined behavior they would have been confined to island colonies; two p.s. agents were in charge of security. inside the villa, while the external surveillance was guaranteed by the royal carabinieri. Incredibly, while the Urbisaglia camp exists, no one will ever try to escape.

On July 24, 1940, coming from Campagna (Salerno) where he was initially interned, the elderly father Carlo will cross the gate of the Urbisaglia camp. His stay will be short, with regard to his seniority; he will first be transferred to an external location, in San Ginesio, as a ‘free’ inmate, (even if the two words put together are a contradiction) until June 26, 1941. On July 10 he left for Ferrara with a street sheet, again semi-free man, as already subjected to a warning in his native city, thus remaining a special controlled.

The life of the two twin brothers, so identical that few were able to recognize them, becomes from this moment a long list of arid data relating to transfers, disciplinary notes, arrest warrants, which also speak extensively of lives made difficult to difficult times, managing in part to erase the silence of history, even after so many years. 

In May 41, Primo Ugo was hospitalized in a sanatorium in Prasomaso (Sondrio) for lung problems; on May 26 the internment measure is revoked and he can return to Bologna, (but not to Ferrara, as he is warned) as a substantially free man. 

The story of Secondo Lino will be different and more troubled, who, although identical in appearance to his brother, had a more rebellious character; and since his arrival at the camp he had taken an open attitude of rebellion by refusing to get out of bed to answer the morning roll, simulating non-existent ailments thus encouraging another group of inmates to cause accidents that affect the good course of the camp; this had cost him a first transfer, on 23 March 1941 to the internment camp of “Isola del Gran Sasso”.

Order of internment of Secondo Lino Hanau

We do not know the reasons for the further transfers of Secondo Lino, although we can assume them; in November 1941 he is again present in Urbisaglia; on 1 December 1941 he was deported to the Tremiti Islands, on 23 March 1942 he was transferred to Isola del Gran Sasso, in June 1942 he was interned in Alberobello; finally in September 1942 in Monghidoro. 

In the meantime Primo Ugo in Bologna had started the ‘Twin Products’ company which made chemical preparations. It was 1941, the year of the freezing winter of the siege of Stalingrad, the year in which all the city’s plants were cut down to make firewood. 

Primo Ugo had requested an act of clemency for Secondo Lino, so that he could help him in the conduct of the business, a measure that was promptly rejected on October 16, 1941. 

Finally, the two brothers return as free men with an act of clemency from the Duce on January 2, 1943, but for a little while longer; September 8 is almost upon us, the worst is yet to come, all those who had Jewish blood up to the second generation, without distinction, will be doomed to death, and war will become present everywhere, upsetting everyone’s life.

Armanda Spadini, partisan relay and wife of Primo Ugo

Ironically, it will be in the town of Urbisaglia that the Hanau, father and children, will return immediately after the armistice, ironically, finding refuge in the place of their first detention. Ugo Primo is not alone, however, with him there is also Armanda Spadini, a 22-year-old Catholic girl he met in Bologna, his future wife in the time of peace to come. She too joins the partisans, engaged throughout the duration of the war as a relay to bring food to the mountains by bicycle where the partisans were hidden. 

Between Marche and Abruzzo, the small villages on the top of the hills hid opponents of the regime, Jews and even enemy/allied soldiers, like an African American aviator who had fallen with his plane, whose black skin certainly could not go unnoticed. The entire population of the villages had to be all in agreement and attentive, to avoid the serious penalties that would have been inflicted if the illegal immigrants had been discovered by the fascist and Nazi squads that came for inspections. The constant vigilance from above facilitated the precocity of the alarm when the columns of armed men began to climb towards the villages. We must acknowledge the anti-fascist compactness of the inhabitants, none of whom allowed themselves to be tempted by the lavish rewards that the Salò regime attributed to the informers.

The Urbisaglia camp is empty in the meantime, following the events of 8 September; inmates disperse, unfortunately many were foreigners and did not know the language, others simply did not know where to go and probably no one could imagine the unimaginable; therefore, when on 27 October 1943 the commissioner of Macerata had ordered the return to the camp, which in the meantime had passed under German control, those who had presented themselves had all been transferred to the internment camp of Sforzacosta, and from there to Fossoli transit camp, destination Auschwitz. It was the journey of no return, the end, for many. 

Now there was no escape for anyone; On December 29, 1943, an arrest warrant was also issued against the younger sister Clara Edera Hanau, then twenty-six, converted to Christianity as she was married to an Italian Catholic. 

She will be saved, losing her tracks, probably at that date she was already in default, she too repaired together with her brothers and her father, somewhere between Fermo and Porto San Giorgio, hosted and helped by people who had protected her. 

From 8 September 1943 until 13 June 1944 Secondo Lino and Primo Ugo were active in the partisan formation of the band Popoli, in Popoli, with command and service roles, until it passed the front. 

From a typescript attributable to Secondo Lino himself we can briefly reconstruct the synthesis of the common history of the two brothers, united as always. 

In the thanks that are given to all those who have helped them are mentioned: Maria Contigiani of Urbisaglia, who warned them in time before they were surrounded by the Nazi-fascist forces, and thus they were able to save themselves by jumping the window and giving herself stain; Don Nicola Rilli, a singular figure of a very active partisan priest near Serrapetrona who helped them by giving them information; Dr. Simoncelli pharmacist from Macerata, the painter from Monachesi with his wife.

As of November 26, 1944, Carlo, Primo and Secondo appear to reside in via Bergamasca 19, in Fermo; guests of the Volpetti family; the war in central Italy is almost over, but not so in the north. Although we have certain news of the presence of the Hanau family in their places of origin, in Ferrara and Bologna, after the war, a request for facilitations dating back to 19 December 1944 by the central management of the partisan movement in the person of Alfredo Paccara and directed to the attention of the authorities of Ferrara, Ravenna and Forlì, it suggests that the two brothers’ journey to the north may have begun on that date, while the war is still underway; however, there is no further confirmation. 

On May 19, 1945, Carlo Hanau, who had recently returned to Ferrara, died. Jew, atheist, & nbsp; socialist and republican, he will never see the advent of the Republic.

In June 1945 the Hanau brothers are present in Bologna, engaged in the attempt to reconstruct their civil life, the latest documents available in the archives consulted tell us of a request for compensation for the damages reported to the company ‘Gemello Products’, stripped of the materials from the Nazi-Fascists; Ugo Primo and Armanda are expecting a child, who will be born shortly; life begins again, slowly.