April 22, 2018 | Rome, Italy | °C

Ignes Figini

By Alison Fottrell
Published: 2013-01-24

Did you manage to get back to Italy immediately?

No. Unfortunately for me it wasn't over. Before going home I got sick with typhoid but over the following months I willed myself to get better. I eventually got back to Como on Oct. 25, 1945. Everyone thought I was dead.

How did your family react when they saw you?

First some neighbors saw me, and one of them went on to warn my parents of my physical appearance. I was much thinner than when I had had to spend four months in bed to regain my health. When my father saw me he told me he had dusted down my bike the day before. My mother had been sleeping in my bedroom since my arrest. The night before I arrived a small statue of Our Lady had fallen from the shelf above her head waking her up. She immediately thought it was a sign I was going to come home.

How did you feel knowing that some of your captors escaped arrest and prosecution?

After years I realized that anger and hatred only poison the heart and cause such atrocities to repeat. For this reason I have forgiven. Freedom for me was when I freed my heart and mind of the cruelty, which tried but failed to strip me of my humanity and my dignity. Freedom is a magnificent thing.

Have you ever regretting speaking out on behalf of your colleagues on March 6, 1944?

In all honesty the answer is no. Undoubtedly those words to the Police Commissioner in front of the factory gates all those years ago have marked my existence. But I have never regretted them.

I am regularly invited to middle schools in the Como area to speak about my experiences. I understand that I have a duty to contribute to educating young people on understanding the importance of forgiveness. Often they can't accept the idea that it is possible to forgive such violence but I tell them that when you forgive you discover who you really are.

Forgiveness gives you an interior peace in the same way that hate and revenge generate damage not only others, but above all oneself.

We can't live in the past. We have to look ahead. And I say that at age 90. But we must never forget.

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