Ducati and the II World War
A tale about solidarity inside the factory
Bologna, 19 September 2013
Dear Ducatisti friends,
We have told (and shared) many stories relating to the tradition of
Ducati, the bikes produced, the victories, well known and lesser known
anecdotes, and we have often spoken of characters and their experiences inside
and outside the Ducati walls.
But I don't often have the chance to tell you the kind of life-changing
story that you will hear today; the emotional story of a man who, thanks to the
solidarity of Ducati's staff, was able to survive the horrors of the Second
Thanks to his descendants, particularly his daughter Caterina Cristofori
and granddaughter Giulia Pasetti, we can tell you this story which is as
incredible as it is true:
Forgive me if I take up a little of your time to tell you this story
that regards your company and my grandfather.
I write to you on behalf of my mother who, now in her eighties, found the badge
that I attach here.
We come from the Province of Ferrara, my grandfather originated from
and we still live here, but for work reasons he had to move to Venezia
(this was what it was called at the time) where he met my grandmother
my mother Caterina and one of her two brothers were born. Drafted for
Second World War, my grandfather was deployed in the anti-aircraft unit
in Bologna and, as I have written, was taken prisoner in the Borgo
It was 8 September 1943, the day of the armistice, and my grandfather,
Alberino Cristofori, a gunner in Borgo Panigale, was already planning his
return home with his comrades. However, on 9 September the Nazi soldiers took
them prisoner with the intention of sending them to Germany. They took them,
gathered them up and set off; they were going to leave from Bologna station.
The group of gunners that my grandfather belonged to was made up of
military men in their thirties or older, grown-up and expert, while the Nazi
soldiers "accompanying" them were all very young, inexperienced and
perhaps also starting to have their doubts.
Thus, during the walk to Bologna many Italian soldiers managed to slip away into the woods, while others
played for time, using any excuse to stop even if the walk had only just begun.
During one of these breaks, an old lady who was passing by and who had understood the situation, said to my
grandfather: "Go to Ducati!"
So he and some of the others managed to escape from the Nazis and, incredibly
one way or another, even by passing right through some homes, reached the
Here our soldiers found an organisation "turning round" fugitive
In the space of a few minutes they were stripped of their uniforms, dressed in
Ducati overalls and put in front of machines while an employee prepared their
ID badges using photos provided by the soldiers themselves, probably by
removing them from their own identity document.
The Nazi soldiers arrived a few hours later to make an inspection,
because they suspected that the fugitives had concealed themselves inside the
Ducati Factory. They saw workers at the machines, each in possession of a badge
showing a recruitment date of one year
previously and, unable to
prove that the Italian soldiers who had escaped them were among the workers,
they left and my grandfather and his comrades were free.
Having been disguised as Ducati workers, with documents validating their
identification as part of the workforce, he and the other fugitives that had
been helped to hide then returned to their homes. Although his time in Ducati
only amounted to one day, he always kept the memory of this adventure alive,
passing it on to my mother who did not have any tangible proof until last July
when she found the badge that I attach here.
My grandfather, having escaped from Bologna, reached relatives in
Ferrari who put him up for the night, he got rid of his military uniform and
returned to Cernizza Goriziana where he lived with my grandmother, my mother
and his youngest son.
Shortly after came the drama of the "foibe", literally the diggings, and there was another escape,
but that is another story. Perhaps my mother will tell you it when we have the
chance to meet.
This is the story that my mother wanted me to tell you, to express her
gratitude to the then Director of the Factory and to the staff that helped my
grandfather and his comrades, aware that things have changed at Ducati since
then. It is simply an Italian story about an Italian brand.
Thanks for taking the time to read this, and once again thank you very
much for your interest.
Giulia Pasetti and Caterina Cristofori. "
We had the pleasure of hosting Giulia and her mother Caterina when they
came to visit the Factory on 16 September to visit the places that, albeit only
for a day, protected Alberino Cristofori, allowing him subsequently to return
to his family.
LIVIO LODI - Museum Curator