They wanted to do a little big thing, something to make a difference in the fight for freedom. Giorgio Paglia and Cicci Vandone were just a young Italian couple, in love and hoping for a future together when the war was over. They had no weapons, no special training, but what they did have was courage and determination.
They decided their little big thing would be to save Jewish children who would otherwise be deported and likely murdered. They rented an apartment near the Swiss border and set up a smuggling network. Desperate parents sought out Giorgio and Cicci and trusted them to take their treasured little ones across the border in the middle of the night. The young couple carried out these harrowing treks until the possibility of discovery became too great. They then decided that Cicci would go home to Milan to handle clandestine communications, and Giorgio would go into the mountains to join the partisans.
On November 17, 1944, Giorgio Paglia was captured along with seven companions. Unexpectedly, he was offered his freedom because his father was a known war hero from an earlier era. When he found that his fellow partisans would be shot, however, he chose to die with them. In his last letter to Cicci, he wrote, “In these mountain months I dreamed so much about the life we would live together forever if all ended well..." For Giorgio and Cicci forever never came, but their little big thing lives on, even today…
(The testimony of Cicci Vandone, who died at the age of 97, is contained in "We Partigiani", (Feltrinelli 2020), by Gad Lerner and Laura Gnocchi.)