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71 years after being separated by the Nazis, a mother is reunited with her daughter

A handout picture provided by the International Tracing Service (ITS) on 12 August 2015 shows the 91-year-old Italian woman, holding an illustrated book with photos of the family of her daughter Margot Bachmann in her hands in Novellara, Italy, 08 August 2015. (International Tracing Service ITS/dpa)

“Dear Mum, my name is Margot Bachmann and I am your daughter, born on Oct 25 1944 in Heidelberg. All my life I asked my family about you, without being given any answers. I want to come and find you so that I can hug you once again. I’m immensely happy to be able to finally know you.”

The above is an excerpt, published in the Telegraph and verified by The Washington Post, from a letter German citizen Margot Bachmann sent to her Italian mother. Last weekend, Bachmann and her 91-year old mother, who did not want to be named, were finally reunited in the Italian village of Novellara – 71 years after being separated.

"What we observed last weekend, comes close to a miracle," Friederike Scharlau, representative of International Tracing Service, said in a news release. The organization, in collaboration with the initiative Restoring Family Links which is led by the International Committee of the Red Cross, had helped Bachmann and her mother be reunited.

"Nowadays, it is extraordinarily rare that parents and children reconnect who were separated by the Nazi regime. Many Nazi-survivors have died by now," Scharlau said. Often, the organization is only able to connect relatives with cousins or siblings of subsequent generations.

Bachmann was born in Heidelberg in Germany, where her mother had moved to during the Second World War to work in a factory where she was forced to live in a labor camp. A German soldier impregnated her when she was 20, and she was pressured to hand over the baby to authorities after her parental custody was revoked.

Margot Bachmann was temporarily raised in a children's home, until the German soldier's family adopted her shortly after the end of World War II. Post-war chaos divided the Italian mother and her daughter even further. In the belief that her daughter had been killed, the woman later returned to Italy.

She did not know that her daughter -- raised under the name Margot Bachmann -- was still alive. Bachmann says her German father prohibited her from searching for her biological mother throughout his life. Although Bachmann's father wanted to make her believe that her mother had died, she had doubts early on. "Already as a child I had the feeling that this wasn't true," she said.

Last year, her father died and Bachmann decided to defy his wishes. "I wanted to know who my mother was, whether we were similar; and I wanted to find photos or some information. I didn't dare to hope that I would ever be able to hug her. Now, I am overtly happy that she is doing well and that we were able to get to know each other," Bachmann was quoted as saying by the International Tracing Service.

On her original birth certificate, Bachmann found the full name of her mother and asked the International Tracing Service to search for information about her, using a database of about 30 million documents.

"We were lucky because in all these years, the mother had not moved away from her home town," Laura Bastianetto, a spokesperson for the Italian Red Cross which accompanied the reunion last weekend, told La Repubblica. "We were able to trace her fairly quickly. We hope that the mother, who believed she had lost her daughter forever, can now make up for lost time. She doesn't know when, but she is sure to come back as soon as possible," Bastianetto said.

"A bottle of sparkling wine, the excitement of the reunification and an exchange of gifts and family pictures filled the time," the Italian Red Cross spokesperson described the reunion to The Washington Post in an email.

Looking at her daughter, the mother said: "I thought you were dead, otherwise I would have searched for you," according to Bastianetto.

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