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Mafalda of Hesse, Princess of Savoy - “... bombs fell very close to us ...”

19/11/1902 (Rom, Kingdom of Italy) – 27/8/1944 (Buchenwald concentration camp)

Portrait of Mafalda of Hesse, Princess of Savoy
Mafalda of Hessen, Princess of Savoy (1902-1944), ca. 1940.

Mafalda’s husband, Prince Philipp of Hesse, supported the National Socialists. He joined the party in 1930 and, after Hitler’s rise to power, became governor of the province of Hesse-Nassau. The son-in-law of the Italian king, Philipp acted as an intermediary between Hitler and Mussolini. In 1943, Allied troops occupied Sicily. Mussolini was deposed, and Philipp of Hesse suspected of having worked with the Italian royal family to bring about the dictator’s fall. He and his wife were arrested. Separated from her husband and children, Mafalda arrived in Buchenwald in October 1943. She was lodged in a special barrack, and injured so severely during the American aerial attack that she died as a result. “Three bombs fell very close to us”, Rudolf Breitscheid’s wife recalled.

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