Biography

Ada Buffulini

Italy

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Ada Buffulini was a doctor and anti-fascist. She was interned in the Nazi camp in Bolzano where she managed to set up a resistance movement.

Ada Buffulini was born in Trieste on 28 September 1912 into a well-to-do family. In 1930 she moved to Milan to study medicine at the university. It was here that Ada came into contact with life in the big city and she became involved in the anti-fascist movement.  

In 1943, Ada met Lelio Basso, secretary of the Socialist Party, and from this moment her active involvement in politics and anti-fascism grew. Her activities mainly took place in the university environment. She distributed leaflets, translated documents, and attended meetings. She also edited an underground socialist newspaper for women.  

In November 1943 she was forced to go into hiding: “From then on I had no home, no relatives, no work; I no longer even had a name [...] So began that terrible and magnificent time, at times haunting like a nightmare, at times splendid like an epic; that time when everything was forgotten, of all that had formed my life up to then, to remember only one thing, the political passion for which I lived and for which I knew I could die every day”.  

On 4 July 1944, she was caught by the fascists and taken to San Vittore prison in Milan. On 7 September 1944, she was deported to the Nazi camp in Bolzano together with other prisoners. Among them was Carlo Venegoni, a communist leader, whom Ada would marry after the war. Political prisoners were marked by overalls with a red triangle and prisoner numbers sown on to them. Ada thus became number 3795.  

Because she was a doctor and spoke German, Ada was assigned to the camp infirmary. Inside the camp, she managed to continue her resistance activities. She coordinated the resistance in the camp, kept in contact with a group outside the camp which aided the prisoners, kept them in contact with their families and sometimes organised escapes.  

The SS guards suspected that Ada played a role in the resistance movement in the camp and imprisoned her in the Cell Block from February 1945 until the liberation of the camp.  

After the war, she returned to Milan where she continued her political commitment in the ranks of the Communist Party and where she dedicated herself to the memory of the resistance in the Bolzano camp by being a member of the Associazione Nazionale Ex Deportati Politici Dai Campi Nazisti (National Association of Former Political Deportees from Nazi Camps).