In Memoriam Modesto Melis
The sad news has reached us from Italy that Modesto Melis, a survivor of the Mauthausen and Gusen concentration camps, passed away in Carbonia, Italy, on 9 January 2017 at the age of 96.
Modesto was the son of peasant farmers in Gairo, a small town in Sardinia. The family was poor and already as a teenager, he was forced to leave home to seek work in the mines of Carbonia. During the Second World War, Modesto Melis served in the Italian paratroopers. After fleeing from the Fascists, he was arrested in February 1944. Having been imprisoned in the Fossoli, Bolzano and Mauthausen camps he finally arrived at Gusen, where he claimed to be an electrician and, on this basis, was assigned to work in the ‘Bergkristall’ tunnel complex. Later he said that it was only thanks to this that he survived.
In the book ‘L’animo degli offesi. Storia di Modesto Melis da Carbonia a Mauthausen e ritorna’, published by Giuseppe Mura in 2013, Modesto Melis described what he lived through. He frequently gave talks in schools about his experiences in the concentration camps. He made his last visit to the former Mauthausen concentration camp three years ago together with his son Bruno.
Modesto Melis will be sadly missed.