After more than 70 years, Margot Bachmann, born in the midst of World War II, finally got to meet her mother, ending a lifetime of questions and uncertainty.
Bachmann’s mother had been recruited to work in Nazi Germany during World War II while Italy and Germany were still allied. When Italy switched sides following its capitulation to the Allies, her status became that of forced laborer.
She fell in love with a German soldier, became pregnant and gave birth to her daughter Margot in October 1944. In late 1944, the Nazi “Welfare and Juvenile Office” denied the 20-year-old mother her right as guardian, and Margot was taken to a children’s home, according to the International Tracing Service. The ITS’s mission includes tracing the fate of family members persecuted by the Nazis and their allies.
At war’s end in 1945 the mother returned to Italy under the assumption that her daughter and the father had died in the conflict’s waning months.
What Bachmann’s mother didn’t know is that the German soldier was already married. He not only survived the war but his family took Margot out of the children’s home.
Margot would grow up with seven half-brothers and sisters. Questions about Bachmann’s biological mother were strictly forbidden by her father, who wanted her to believe that her mother had died.
Although Bachmann suspected that the facts didn’t add up, it was only after her father died two years ago that she gathered the courage to try to find out what happened to her mother.
With the help of her own daughter, Bachmann found her baptismal certificate, which included the name of her mother. They then inquired at the German Red Cross, which passed her inquiry on to the International Tracing Service, where staff members were able to find information in its archives that made it possible to locate her mother, now 91 and living in Novellara, a small town in northern Italy.
Bachmann then wrote a letter to her mother: