Franz Thaler, Italian author, Died at 90

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Franz Thaler was born on March 6, 1925 in Sarntal, and died on October 29, 2015.

He was an author from South Tyrol, a peacock quill embroiderer and a survivor of the concentration camp in Dachau and the satellite camp in Hersbruck.

In 1939 his father decided in a referendum that his family should remain Italian citizens and should not adopt the German nationality.

As a consequence his family was harassed and isolated: Franz was no longer allowed to attend school.

In 1944, at the age of 19, Franz was called up to do military service in the German Wehrmacht, despite his Italian nationality.

At first he went into hiding for several months, but finally gave himself up when his family was threatened with reprisals.

Thaler received a sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment in Dachau concentration camp from a military court.

In December 1944 Franz was taken to Dachau and then, in the same month, to Hersbruck, a subsidiary camp of Flossenbürg concentration camp, where he then had to do hard labour.

He was later brought back to Dachau. On 29 April 1945 the concentration camp in Dachau was liberated by American troops.

Franz, and many of his fellow inmates, were forced to march to a camp in France, where they were finally set free.

When he returned home in August 1945, he began to write down his experiences, which appeared in book form in 1989.

Franz continued to work as a quill embroiderer and silversmith in Sarntal up to his retirement.

Thaler’s memoir, Unvergessen (Unforgotten), was an important catalyst in initiating, and contributing to, the discussion of what happened in South Tyrol during the Nazi era.

In 1997 Franz received the Order of Merit of the Land of Tyrol, in 2010 he was awarded the honorary citizenship of Bolzano, and in 2013 he was chosen, together with Nazi opponent and victim, Josef Mayr-Nusser, by the South Tyrolian Society for Political Science as Political Personality of the Year.

He turned 90 years old on 6 March 2015, shortly before the anniversary of the Liberation of Dachau on 29 April 2015.

Franz Thaler passed away at age 90 in October 2015.

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