TDoR 2023 / 2023 / March / 22 / Lucy Salani

Lucy Salani

Age 98 (born 12 Aug 1924)

22 Mar 2023
Bologna (Italy)
Natural causes

Lucy Salani
Lucy Salani [photo:]

Lucy died in her home from natural causes. She was the only known Italian trans survivor of a Nazi concentration camp - she had spent six months being tortured in Dachau.

Lucy Salani, the only Italian [trans woman] who survived the Nazi concentration camps, has died at the age of [98]. A life, hers, entirely spent as an activist for homosexual and transgender rights.

A few hours ago, the founder of the Sentinelli and Lombard regional councilor Luca Paladini gave the news: "Our honorary member Lucy Salani is no longer here. A long life where she experienced the horror of concentration camps and then the freedom to want to be herself". The woman died in her home in her Bologna, where she had returned in the 80s to take care of her parents and where she remained until the day of her death.

She was born in Fossano as [deadname] Salani and raised in the Emilia-Romagna capital. After having deserted both the Italian fascist and the Nazi armies she has deported to Dachau in 1944.

"Being trans in that twenty years was terrible" you recalled some time ago during the inauguration of the Homocaust exhibition dedicated to the forgotten extermination of homosexuals by Nazi-fascism. "On the issue of rights, Italy is stalled, and it is that suspension that is scary. I would not want us to return to the fascist era", she added.

Rejected by both her father and her brothers, she remained in the Nazi concentration camp for six months until the liberation of the camp by the Americans in 1945. "I got my permits and went all the way home. The Germans were looking for me because I gave a false name and address. Making my situation worse,” said Salani. After the war, she initially lived on expedients such as [sex work], under the name Carmen, but also the dancer and the actress in a show.

She then moved to Turin, working as an upholsterer and frequenting the Italian and Parisian transsexual scene. After loves that ended or never started, she decided to adopt an 18-year-old single mother: "I met her when she was a child. Her father worked in the mines, had silicosis and died early. Mom died a few weeks later. The baby came to me. She initially did odd jobs, then she fell in love with an idiot and got pregnant."

Lucy's story gained public attention for the first time in 2009, when writer and director Gabriella Romano wrote a biography about her life, named "Il mio nome è Lucy. L'Italia del XX secolo nei ricordi di una transessuale". In 2011, Romano also directed a documentary film centered around the activist, named "Essere Lucy".

In 2014 she was interviewed by director Gianni Amelio as part of his documentary Felice chi è diverso, and in January 2018, she was invited to take part in a demonstration organized by LGBT rights associations Arcigay and Arcilesbica for the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. On that occasion, she said:

"It is impossible to forget and forgive. Some nights, I still dream of the most horrendous things I saw, and I feel like I'm still [trapped] there, and so, I want people to know what happened in the concentration camps, so that it won't happen again."

Report added: 5 Nov 2023. Last updated: 7 Nov 2023

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