Mafalda Maria Elisabetta of Savoy

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Mafalda of Savoy
Mafalda of Savoy
Template:House of Savoy

Mafalda Maria Elisabetta Anna Romana, born November 2, 1902 in Rome, Italy died August 27, 1944 near Weimar, Germany, was a Princess of the House of Savoy.

Known as Princess Mafalda, she was the second child of King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy and Elena Petrovich of Montenegro.

On September 23, 1925, at Racconigi Castle in Piedmont, near Turin, Italy, she married Philip von Hesse Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel (1896-1980). They had the following children:

  1. Maurice Frederick Charles (1926-1968)
  2. Henry William Constantine (born 1927)
  3. Otto Adolf (born 1937)
  4. Elizabeth Marguerite Elena (born 1940)

Her husband was a Nazi party loyalist whose brother Christoph was part of the Nazi hierarchy and who was married to Princess Sophie, the sister of England's Prince Philip. Princess Mafalda 's marriage resulted in her husband being in a position to act as intermediary between the Nazis in Germany and the Fascist regime in Italy. Their importance was such, that in May of 1938 Adolf Hitler visited the Savoy family in Rome. However, during World War II Hitler believed Princess Mafalda was working against the Nazis, referring to her as the "blackest carrion in the Italian royal house."

In early September of 1943, Princess Mafalda traveled to Bulgaria to attend the funeral of her brother-in-law, King Boris III. While there, she was informed of Italy's surrender and that her husband was being held in Bavaria while her children had been given sanctuary in the Vatican. The Gestapo ordered her arrest, and on September 23rd she received a telephone call from Karl Hass at the German High Command who informed her there was an important message from her husband. On her arrival at the German embassy she was arrested, obstensibly for her subversive activities, but also as a threat to keep her father, the king of Italy, in line. Princess Mafalda was transported to Munich for questioning, then to Berlin and was finally deported to Buchenwald concentration camp.

At Buchenwald she was severely wounded during an Allied bomber attack on the nearby armament factories and had to have an arm amputated. Already weakened from forced labor and near starvation, the lack of proper medical attention resulted in her succumbing the following day. The death of Princess Mafalda was not confirmed until after the Allies liberated Germany in 1945.

In 1997, the Italian government honored Princess Mafalda with her image on a postal Maria Elisabeth van Savoye


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