DIARY OF DEPORTEE ANTONIO DETTORI, RED TRIANGLE NO 94450

Translated by Paul Sharkey. Text transcribed and notes added by Franco Bertolucci [1]

Antonio Dettori. Red triangle and number used to identify prisoners in the Nazi Bolzano Transit Camp, 1944-1945

This is a selection from his journal, the full version of which opens and closes in Genoa. In between come arrest, torture, transfer to Germany, the lager, forced march to another lager, liberation and home-coming to Italy. Carrying the diary with him throughout. An extraordinary story. The diary is to be published in full by BFS (Biblioteca Franco Serantini), Pisa.

II

A young informer (G.P.), in the pay of the ‘Silvio Parodi’ Brigata Nera [Black Brigade] having successfully infiltrated the ranks of the ‘Squadre di Azione Antifascista’ [Antifascist Action Squads], invited a number of members of said Squads to a meeting, supposedly a reading of a manifesto from the ‘National Salvation Committee’. Scarcely had the invitees arrived at the meeting place than they were arrested.

During the interrogations we learnt of the scale of that informer’s efforts and the identity of the informer himself. In fact, our interrogators knew all about our activities right down to the tiniest detail, especially as regards weapons, funding and past contacts with partisans and political figures. So, on the evening of 19 August 1944, at 21.00 hours, the National Republican Guard (GNR) and agents from the ‘Silvio Parodi’ Black Brigade, together with personnel from the ‘Squadra Mai Morti’ from Pisa (relocated to Genoa for purposes relating to the war) burst, armed and numerous, into our meeting place, arresting four individuals plus the informer himself, he being set free later on the pretext that he had military duties.[2]

The brush with the Genoa-Sestri Federale (A.G.) and the ghastly beatings endured over three nights and three days in the Casa Littoria in Genoa-Sampiederena, where, bound hand and foot, we were subjected to serious torture, should have been enough to wring from us the names of comrades and the secrets of the Squadre di Azione Antifascista. Every ploy, including the most brutal, was used, to the point where I made my very first attempt to kill myself.

On the night of 20 August, following the usual fisticuffs, I was tied up and suspended from the ceiling by a cable, and left dangling some 30 centimetres from the floor. Beneath my feet they placed a pot of boiling water and when I failed to answer questions put to me, I was lowered down until I was touching the water, so that within minutes, my feet were scalded.

On the night of 21 August, I was taken from my cell and hauled before the Brigata Nera’s commander and the Federale, who put questions to me.

Having declined to answer, I was handed over to the Brigate Nere militians who beat me about the chest, back and head with sandbags, so that in next to no time I passed out.

When I came to, I noticed that there was a priest close to me, and he offered me his ministerial services. From which I deduced that my end was near, but I declined his services, believing that I had no need of them, and, on taking his leave of me, he cordially shook my hand.

III

22 August 1944: They moved me from the Casa Littoria in Genoa-Sampiederena to Genoa Police Headquarters where they handed me back my watch and the sum of 4,129 lire. At the time of my arrest, I had had 12,000 lire in my wallet that I was to have distributed to political victims and to the members of our Squadre di Azione. They had me sign a receipt for the sum returned, which I did without protest, for fear of things getting worse.

23 August 1944: My first encounter with Doctor Veneziani, the superintendent and chef de bureau, the twin of Prefect Basile.[3] No sooner had I been brought before him than, by way of greeting, he boasted about his having blood on his hands as he had had four communists shot, among them the lamented Leandro Longhi from Genoa-Sestri.[4] He told me that my fate could hardly be other than that of those ‘Fallen for Freedom’. As he was continuing to question me, this butcher was toying with a revolver, and every so often would thrust it under my nose to get me to marvel at the splendid sheen of its chrome-plating. He was sitting on a seat with his feet up on the desk, making the usual hate-filled asides to an officer.

25 August 1944: On account of the trial of 31 antifascists from Genoa, a show trial mounted by the same Veneziani, he had to be in attendance at the Special Court which at the time was meeting in the Ducal Palace. My interrogation was therefore entrusted to another superintendent from the Political Bureau who proved less cruel than his boss in his dealings with me.

29 August 1944: For five days now, I have been bombarded by wearisome, nit-picking and exasperating interrogators and I am suffering greatly because of my weakened state following the abuse endured over my time at the Casa Littoria in Sampiederena.

To my great surprise and endless delight, I learn that I have been granted a few minutes of conversation with my wife, a conversation that takes place in the presence of a crowd of police. Immediately afterwards I am moved to the Casa dello  Studente, the central headquarters of the German SS. In those dismal surroundings, I am placed in an underground cell which might be compared to a coffin, because once inside all movement is rendered impossible. I remain there for a further 24 hours.

30 August 1944: I never would have dreamt that I would be subjected to any sort of interrogation in that notorious place, but indeed I was. In the late afternoon I was sent to Marassi prison, again at the disposal of the German SS. In Marassi, I am assigned to a shared cell where I had the luck to bump into some people I knew, one being Dr Giovanni Solari[5] from the San Giorgio di Genoa-Sestri Industrial Society, arrested for anti-Nazi activity. Four days previously, Dr Solari had been collected and driven to the Casa dello Studente where he had been subjected to interrogation and cruel tortures and viciousness. In the late afternoon, he was brought back to the prison, feverish and spent from the suffering inflicted upon him. I am in a position to state that the tortures inflicted upon him over those days where what essentially undermined and shattered his nerves.

IV

2 September 1944: In our shared cell I have another 222 people as my comrades in misfortune. We are allowed no communication with our spouses and no correspondence; merely the trading of laundry every Thursday: our rations are inadequate and smoking forbidden, as indeed is the most elementary hygiene; bedbugs and lice are beginning to fasten on our skins.

4 September 1944: Every day fresh residents are added to our band of wretches. They always show up after 21.00 hours, fresh from the Casa dello Studente. Every morning the chosen ones are taken away and driven back there to undergo questioning and manhandling; they return in the evening bearing on their bodies the marks of the physical and moral torment inflicted upon them by the ferocious German SS and their black-shirted lackeys.

6 September 1944: Overnight some people have been removed from the prison for shipment to Germany. What fate awaits them there? Will fate be kind to them? What sin have they committed? They are all men who have made no bones about their antifascist beliefs.

10 September 1944: During the trading of laundry this Thursday I manage to slip a note into a shirt pocket. In the note I ask my family to furnish me with the requisite items as I am convinced that I am to be deported to Germany as soon as possible.

15 September 1944: In the cell adjoining ours, four injured men in serious condition have been languishing for some time. They are 4 partisan heroes who tried to spring one of their comrades from the Republican Guard in San Fruttuoso. In the afternoon, medics arrive from the S. Martino hospital, tenderly tending to these daring and horribly wounded and mutilated fellows. They are daring partisans who have fought for our common cause, freedom, in an unequal battle and, having spilt a lot of blood, are back from their inhuman butchers who know nothing of the beauty of daring, and under sentence of death.

20 September 1944: Yet another batch of detainees ships out to Germany. Inside the prison I manage to speak to two such dear friends: Giglioli from Genoa Sestri and Bolognesi from Genoa Sampiederena, both marked for deportation.

25 September 1944: We are woken at about 23.00 by our warders. After we assemble, the list of us compiled when we entered the prison is read out; our personal identity papers are destroyed; items of vale and money are to follow us to Germany; only our ties and belts are handed back to us.

26 September 1944: After a few hours, by about 4.00 we are roused and marshalled in the prison yard. There I have the pleasure of bumping into Umberto Raspi[6], Ottonello[7] and others. With me are Doctor Solari and a lot of other Ligurians; all of us carry on our faces and bodies the marks of the suffering we have undergone. The environs of Marassi prison are in a state of war. Egged on by the rifle butts of fascist and German SS personnel, 680 detainees of both sexes, including 100 women and lots of sick, are loaded on to some vehicles. It looks as if this will be an eventful day for us; six torpedoes loaded with human flesh, guarded by fixed bayonets, set off on what is for us a mystery tour bound for endless suffering. Packed like sardines in a can, we hurtle down the Genoa-Serravalle trunk road and then via Novi-Alessandria. There we turn off on to the Vercelli-Novara road and eventually reach Milan. As far as I can make out, we took that sharp diversion in order to dodge the Anglo-American planes monitoring the road intersections.

In Milan, the populace offers us bread, drinks and other food in a gesture of fraternal solidarity with us poor wretches bound for some dismal fate, with no hope of ever returning. That gesture of solidarity triggers armed intervention by the SS who were in a nearby restaurant feeding their own appetites. They have to fire a lot of shots in the air to chase off those courageous folk who are threatening to set us loose just to get them to give up on their plans to deport us. At dusk, we press on via the Brescia-Verona-Trento road. At the latter stop-over, 4 of our fellow citizens manage to escape by forcing a hole in the bellows dividing the engine from the tow-bar; unfortunately, they lose a fifth man under the wheels. The alarm is raised and our guards thereby snatch from us our last hope and opportunity of dodging the fate in store for us.

V

27 September 1944: At around 12.00 we pass through the city of Bolzano and later we arrive at No 1 concentration camp.[8] Scarcely have we set foot on the ground than we are put into formation and then subjected to having our heads shaved. Perhaps in order to hammer home to us what we already know about our fate, they dress us in uniforms, the backs of which are emblazoned with a death’s head.

In the late evening, we are issued with a sickening broth after which we are led into the barracks, Block C, assigned for use as our dormitory.

28 September 1944:  – In this concentration camp, we recover a measure of freedom of movement, in that we can move around within the vast camp, between the perimeter walls and their barbed wire complements. But here at least we are able to breathe in lungfuls of fresh air and can stretch our legs after our lengthy stay in prison.

30 September 1944: Since day one reveille has been at 4.30 and it will remain such for the whole of our stay here. The discipline is military; three assemblies per day, one in the morning at 6.00 before we move out for hard labour which consists of unloading explosives from railway wagons; the second one is at 12.00 and the third at 18.00.

During these assemblies we are lined up in lines of ten and forced to stand stiffly to attention. The same treatment is meted out to the women who are assigned to the same heavy work and subjected to the same steely discipline.

02 October 1944: Since the very first day we arrived, we in the camp have been eating food prepared by the Germans, which is to say, black rye bread and a turnip broth. In Bolzano we found the climate pretty pleasant, there was plenty of clean water, lots of fruit and grapes. For these reasons trading in fruit items is practised in the camp on a vast scale, all of course at black market prices and on behalf of the SS who rake in the profits.

04 October 1944: Here we have the chance of writing to our families, in the hope that we will be here long enough to get a reply.

This camp has 5 barracks distinguished by the letters A-B-C-D and H. The first, third and fifth house those men who are in transit; the second is set aside for the women who are crushed together like they might be at the Christmas vigil Mass; the fourth is set aside for detainees of Jewish race together with their women and children; the most demanding, most inhuman and dirtiest work is reserved for the Jews.

Today, Sunday, we witness the first punishment, which consists of 25 lashes that a countryman of ours has to receive on his bare back. The poor wretch is bent over a saw-horse with his feet in front of him and his head lowered. He is accused of having scavenged a few food scraps from outside the camp kitchen. After punishment, the wretch is taken to the infirmary in a pitiful condition. All this to the greater glory of the civilisation of the New Order.

5 October 1945: The ones who suffer worst from this state of affairs are the smokers. Ligurian Aristide Vercelli[9] could not withstand the loss and sold his own shoes to a bourgeois in return for a few cigarettes. The black market in tobacco is thriving more than ever as it is encouraged by SS personnel.

The atmosphere and the multitude of men from so many Italian provinces packed together in this camp greatly facilitate the making and renewal of acquaintanceships. In recent days, those convicted in the trial of the 31 antifascists in Genoa arrived, the pride and joy of the hyena Veneziani, Prefect Basile, known to all, and the Genoese repubblichini.

Among those convicted and assigned to between 12 and 30 days’ hard labour, there are some women and a bunch of self-confessed communists: the priest Don Caggero[10], Engineer Anatra from the Ansaldo works in Genova Sestri[11], my townsman De Blasé, an army colonel and other lesser known persons who deserve a mention for their selflessness and sacrifice.

VI

7 October 1944: What we anticipated has come to pass. We are bound for Germany. Every mind is swamped with sadness. We are leaving Italian soil.  Travelling far from the affections of our loved ones. Deported to a foreign land which will vent all its hostility and all its hatred upon us.

In batches of 10, we are marched to the railway platform. They load us on to cattle wagons, 64 to the wagon, and the wagons are sealed from the outside. There are about a thousand of us, people of both sexes; the women occupy two wagons. We have to answer all of our bodily needs inside the wagons.

8 October 1944: We are crossing Austria; for hours we travel through endless forests which we glimpse through the chinks in the wagon. Along with me I have the inseparable Umberto Raspi, Dr Solari, Rosario Fucile[12], Martini[13], Mazzucco[14], Morando[15], Vercelli, Gaggero[16] and other Ligurians whose names escape me. Most of this transport is made up of Lombards and Venetians.

9 October 1944: We are weary and exhausted, assailed by hunger and thirst over the past two days. Our conditions are truly lamentable; we are just a heap of human flesh and treated worse than if we were livestock bound for the butcher’s. The two wagons carrying the women are uncoupled from the transport, bound for a different destination: Vienna, perhaps.

10 October 1944: After three days of torment and suffering we arrive in Munich; in the early afternoon hours we arrive at the notorious Dachau concentration camp, the hell-hole of the living dead.

On entering the camp, one feels as if one’s circulation has been cut off. High walls are complemented by a double line of barbed wire carrying a strong electrical charge. A discipline steely enough to drive one crazy and everything that meets our gaze call to mind Dante’s verses which I used to listen to as a young boy: “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here”. Within its confines, nearly 35 thousand people agonise: in circumference, Dachau camp is as big as the Champs Elysées in Paris and holds political deportees of every nationality.[17]

This camp is sub-divided into more than 100 wooden huts; holding offices, textile and shoe factories and no one is allowed to remain idle because manual labour is mandatory for all.

We entered this tomb of the undead in military formation, with all our baggage; looking forward into the severity of the German climate and the approaching winter, that asks immense sacrifices of us all.

After all our names are called out, we are forced to strip naked in the enormous yards as if attending some nudist rally and they have us leave all that gear and all personal belongings in a heap. After which we are directed into the shower rooms and are shaved, not just our heads but even our most private parts. After a cold water shower, we exit via the opposite side of the hut and from there into another hut to be issued with the rags that are to clad us, comprising of a shirt, a couple of changes, a pair of shoes and a jacket; all of them bearing zebra-like vertical stripes.

From that point on, a man loses his identity and becomes a number. We are stripped forever of all our stuff, suitcases, coats, clothing, footwear, underwear, etc. We are not so much hurt by the material loss of our things as by the fact that they have deprived us of what was a reminder to us of the loving care of our families and companions, their photographs and other cherished mementoes. 

Each of us carries a number underneath a red triangle to indicate our status as political deportees; the number and the triangle can also be found on our right trouser leg.  We find ourselves branded like so many matricides. That first day of camp life is rendered all the busier by the flurry of so many new ordinances, each more fearsome than the other. There is lamentation in our hearts, tormented and put to severe test as they have been by events and by life’s adversities.

Following this carnivalesque briefing, we are escorted to hut No 25 in teams of ten; once there, and late that evening we are fed a repulsive broth of millet and turnip. Our sleeping arrangements are horrific; we are to sleep three to a wooden bed, two with heads facing north and the one in the middle with his head pointing south.

As best we can, we arrange with close friends to sleep side-by-side on the third level bunk, but not before we hear repeated disciplinary warnings about how we are to conduct ourselves and must abide strictly by the morning wake-up call. Exhaustion, however, gets the better of our bodies, although sleep is out of the question; everything that has happened over the day is replayed before us and so we despair of our tragic and forlorn circumstances. We make every possible effort to face the suffering that they are going to inflict on us and console one another and conjure up the strength of mind needed in such circumstances.

Many sleep and many another weeps at the thought of far-off family that they might well never set eyes on again; in the end, sleep overcomes us and we surrender to the arms of Morpheus.

11 October 1944: We are wakened at 4.00 on the dot. Whether the weather be good or bad, our wake-up call will always come at this hour. We must leave the hut and step outside into the open. In the narrow space between two huts, we are obliged to remain standing until 19,00 hours, in between continual assemblies for military drill.

12 October 1944: Having found out about our arrival here, many countrymen among our fellow deportees, being eager and anxious for news, drop by to see us. We are delighted to answer their queries about their families, about how the war is going, about the damage caused by Anglo-American air raids and there are well-grounded hopes of an imminent settlement to the conflict. Among those fellow countrymen of my acquaintance, there are Repetto[18], the  Biddaus[19] (father and son), Colandro[20], Adami[21], Ciotti[22] and other workers from the Ansaldo & Fossati shipyard and the Tirreno works; all of them deported after January 1944, in the wake of the anti-nazi unrest.

14 October 1944: Today we have further visitors. Doctor Solari seeks out his cousin Enrico Solari[23] and Comm. D’Avanzi from San Giorgio and Colonel Ughi[24], head of the disciplinary office at the Ansaldo Works look us up. They were deported to Germany themselves in the wake of the unrest and disobedience last January and endured the very same repressive system and were shipped out directly to Dachau. They tell us that they arrived in extremely cold conditions with around 30 centimetres of snow. They were obliged to stand barefoot outside hut No 25 the whole day long.

All new arrivals are processed through that hut for a briefing on camp discipline, a mission entrusted to experts who know how to strike without wounding.

15 October 1944: We begin to feel the first hunger pangs. Which prompts us to barter with anything we can manage to steal. No subterfuge is off-limits as long as we can trick our neighbour; hunger heeds no one and damages ourselves and others. The whip rules supreme. It is the usual punishment for all breaches of the rules and even the tiniest infringement, no matter how insignificant. Looking sideways at the SS is severely punished.

16 October 1944: Dr Tubino[25] from Genova Pegli arrives in block No 25 today. He is eager for news of his family and of the progress of the war. Anyone meeting this calm, distinctive fellow for the first time is not going to forget him.  Dr Turbino is an ardent socialist.

Every day bring fresh searches. We are forever standing naked outside the infirmary, waiting to be seen by the medics, but it all boils down to a race in Indian file without our being tended to.

Footwear must be removed on entering the hut. What a to-do! As if one were entering a Temple dedicated to the worship of Allah! We all try to be the first inside the hut, for fear that we be left with no spot to sleep in and also in order to join our friends, so that we can console them if need be.

17 October 1944: Someone cut off from human fellowship is like someone gravely ill hoping for a cure lest he fall into death’s clutches. Many are betting on the war’s ending this coming November but few have a clear picture of the situation before their eyes; the war will in all likelihood not end until 1945. The war’s end is the thought that dominates all deportees, because only then do they envisage an end of their suffering.

18 October 1944: The ones who suffer more than the rest are the smokers; slaves to their vice, they swap their rations for tobacco. Among them there is the little band of Ligurians headed by Aristide Vercelli, Canepa[26], Gaggero, Burlando and Ferrara[27] who gather around a flake of tobacco as if sitting down for a picnic. The Milanese group is as large as the Ligurian one and among them I recall Gallini[28], Monti[29], Zappi[30] and Minetti[31], but the young Veronese far outdoes them for daring and resourcefulness. All of them enter into arrangements and negotiations to get their hands on tobacco that has yet to be distributed; they make promises and make pledges , knowing fine well that they will not be able to honour those promises and pledges.

19 October 1944: A new occurrence has caused a bit of a stir in our hut. Youngsters Mario Minetti and Cappuozio[32], who managed to get themselves taken on as pipe-fitters’ helpers, tricked one of their comrades; Cappuozio had a fellow countryman hand over his (gold-plated) watch, promising to pay him for it in food rations. However, hunger took precedence over obligation and respect for their friendship, and instead of being handed over to the owner of the watch, the rations were kept by Cappuozio for himself and, by way of explanation, he reported the watch as stolen. Naturally, there was a painstaking search made of all the men in hut No 25, to no avail. But as he had not let his pal Minetti in on what he had done, the latter publicly exposed Cappuozio as a liar and the latter in turn revealed Minetti’s secret. Previous to that, Minetti had been passing himself off as a pilot officer in the service of the Allies and claiming that he had taken part in the air raid on the port of Genoa in June 1944. Instead, Cappuozio claimed that Minetti was nothing but a deserter from the X MAS flotilla. On account of their scrapes, these two enterprising young men had won the sympathy of some Polish pipe-fitters who were nothing but corrupters of youths, which is to say, inverts.

20 October 1944: What the Nazis get up to in this camp is horrific and terrifying. As far as the Nazi populace is concerned, these are mere trifling matters; run-of-the-mill stuff for a race that brags of its superiority when it comes to producing cannibals and butchers. In this camp there is hut No 67 where all those too old to work held; among them there are all sorts of mutilated and limbless, blind, deaf, mutes who languish and vegetate and are treated as if they were animals.

21 October 1944: Internationalism is all around us. Men of every nation and every stratum of society are locked up here just because they enjoyed the respect of the public back home.

Packed together in hut No 47 there are 1,007 religious, priests and pastors from every denomination and country. A further 5 Catholic priests from Lombardy, fetched from Bolzano camp along with us, join the other 1,007. They too are required to perform manual labour.

22 October 1944: Our countrymen Colandro, Biddau, Repetto and Adami tell us that in February this year the deportees were sent to work in Munich, Bavaria, about 18 kms from the camp, at 4.00 in the morning and were assigned to hard pick-and-shovel labour on the railways, returning at 22.00 hours exhausted and spent. 

25 October 1944: We leave hut No 25 and move to hut No 10. Other wretches are due to take our places. We take it for granted that our departure from the camp will be soon, imminent.

Looking at things dispassionately, I can see that in spite of shared ideals, what links most deportees – be they partisans, patriots or idealists – is that the notions of nationality and race have swamped every relationship. They may all sing the Internationale in their own tongues, but none of them puts it into practice. They even shy away from any minor gesture of mutual solidarity. I believe this may be because of the distrust that is in the air. Even among us Italians we find this between persons from different provinces; the individual mind-set is dictated by the environment. Slaves to their vice, smokers are on the look-out for tobacco and have no hesitation in bartering away the most precious thing they have: the very food they need to survive is the first thing they bargain with.

In the absence of tobacco, they smoke potato peelings, eucalyptus and other, similar ghastliness. Ottonello and Raspi even went so far as to trade their shoes for a little tobacco. In return for a few grams of tobacco, G. Ferrara bartered a ring that he had successfully secreted away in his anus, safe from any search. All the smokers are suffering immensely from this titillation of their accursed vice.

Naked again, for an inventory to be made of the underwear we possess, we are issued with a blue-and-white striped overcoat. We look like so many zebras in the zoo. The issue has been made to us in anticipation of our imminent departure . We are glad to be leaving this camp of the living dead, which may not be the worst of them, perhaps, as we have no idea what fate lies ahead of us.

26 October 1944: After a frugal ration of turnip soup, at 18.00 we are lined up in ranks 10 deep and assigned to industrial work in a different locality. There are about 850 of us deportees from every nationality, 128 of us Italians. Among the Ligurians are Raspi, Martini, Fucile, Scotto[33], Bocca[34], Mazzuco, Morando, Vercelli, Bruschi[35], Pareto[36], Canepa and Gaggero. But there are lots of Milanese too. The majority are Venetians, though. After the usual irritating procedures – roll-calls and repeated re-counts, by name and number, carried out under the lashing rain and with our feet in the mud – we are locked up in a hut to wait for departure. The boldest among us climb through the windows there to go off in search of precious tobacco. The smokers here are like cocaine addicts; two extremes of a vice that sometimes share the same root. Because of that vice, they rob and brave dangers and thrashings which is more than they will do for food.

This has happened: monstrously, the SS and the camp officials step in, terrorising all present and sparking indescribable panic, especially among the Russians, who are well used to suffering the brutality of the SS, the bane of Europe.

Some of those who had climbed out the window to go off in search of tobacco are caught red-handed by our guards upon their return; among them are the accountant Canepa and Mario Zampotti[37], from Genoa and Voltri, plus some others whose names escape me and they are subjected to the punishment of 25 lashes on their bare backs. They emerge from this brutality feverish and barely conscious; we feel sorry for them and saddened by their suffering and by the impossibility of our affording them any assistance, not even a drop of water, as even that is denied them.

26 October 1944: At around 22.00 hours we are marshalled again and move off in the direction of the camp’s gigantic yard; with rain still falling, we are forced to stand for a further two hours in deathly silence. We are not permitted to move, nor to speak and we can no longer remain on our feet, exhausted from standing to attention, our bodies already exhausted from suffering and hunger.  In the end, the order to move out comes through; it is about midnight. Escorted by SS bayonets, we leave Dachau camp.

As we pass by the SS high command, we have to doff our overcoats and remove our caps. Following inspection, we and other groups are dispatched to Dachau railway station. Here we are loaded into cattle wagons, 60 to a wagon, plus two criminals from the SS escort. No sooner have we loaded up with human flesh that we move out, bound for northern Germany, to some unknown fate, some destination unknown.

27 October 1944: Lashing rain like yesterday. The rain penetrates the wagon and our clothes are sodden. Through an eye-hole in the wagon we glimpse vast tilled fields. Close to us inside the wagon are our countrymen Fucile, Bruschi, Monti, Masi and Cappuozio; the last named takes charge of the distribution of the bread. It is a dismal, dull day and we have no idea when we will be arriving at our destination. We indulge in a lot of speculation and each of us sets outs his own ideas about our unknown future.

28 October 1944: The train has been travelling all night. This transport reminds us of the trip from Bolzano to Dachau, but here we are exposed to the chill and cannot sit down because the floor is entirely awash and partly covered by bodily waste.

We remain standing, braced one against the other for support and are roped into an undulating movement, like so many plants shifting in the wind. Overnight, the convoy halts and they have us dismount from the train. We are all aching and drenched to our very marrow. We have to walk until we come to a huge hut where we are served a cup of warm water that passes for coffee.

Our names are called out and we are assigned a new number – 94,000 – from now on and the inevitable and ever-present “Red Triangle” to be worn on the left side of our breast and on our right leg. We discover that we are in another of the notorious death camps, Buchenwald.

Notwithstanding all our hopes for improvement our position has actually not changed. All that has changed is the name of the camp.

At the first light of day, we sight from the hut window lots of huts and barracks resembling one another; further away, up in the sky loom the crematorium chimneys. Thousands of human beings reduced to ghosts by suffering have already been exterminated through those ovens.

The name “Buchenwald” is etched into the hearts of all deportees on account of the refined ordeals inflicted upon deportees by the SS command of this death camp.[38] Anatomical experiments carried out on human subjects are the order of the day.

Our hearts sink as we pick up on all the news in this twisted war; we would love to cry but we have no tears left, because, like our memory they too have dried up. A counter-order has us leaving Buchenwald camp[39] after a few hours’ interval. We are steered towards the station, going in the opposite direction to our arrival and clamber back aboard the cattle wagons which, luckily have been cleaned out, and gratefully we now have the chance of sitting on the floor.

We are crammed in, 74 deportees to each wagon but with a little goodwill we can all sit down, one between the other’s legs, like papier maché puppets.

29 October 1944: Tiredness from the two days or two nights of travel in waterlogged wagons that required that we spend the entire time standing overcomes us and we all fall into the arms of Morpheus. When we wake, the sun is already risen; we have long since grown used to not seeing it. We slept as long as our bodies required. We are with young Cappuozio who picks a quarrel with the Russians over the distribution of the bread that the SS toss us when we stop, the way they would toss out crusts to stray dogs. These Russians are more famished than us and are in the majority in this wagon, so we are obliged to accept small measures from them. We are racing along a single-track railway line, no longer passing across wide plains, but through valleys and hills. From time to time, the only thing that stops this train, far removed from populated areas, lurking in the hills and hiding in the forests, is the air raid siren.

30 October 1944: The convoy has been travelling all through the night. It pulls up and there is a rainy autumn dawn. The SS have us dismount and order us to ensure that the wagons are cleansed of human waste. Once the cleaning has been completed, we are assembled and march, military-style, along a street, walking through the calf-deep mud.

We leave behind us a large village, the name of which escapes me now. We march as if into battle, under an escort of Nazi criminals who oblige us to march in step as if we were raw recruits.

We cover around three kilometres and finally come to the crest of a hill where there is a farm, a wooden hut for the SS escort and an old Protestant church, with a tiny bell-tower. The year of its construction is carved into its cross: 1777. Alongside the church there is a small graveyard with splendid tombs. The church becomes our billet.[40] Meanwhile, we are lined up in rows two deep and, after scrutiny by some civilian technical experts who are no doubt going to be the exploiters of our sweat, our executioners and our guards, each of us is called upon to provide a run-down of his own professional capabilities (they do their best to speak Italian but they bark like dogs) and an interpreter is sent for. Good old Ferdinando Testa[41] from Udine steps into the breach. Questioned through the interpreter, we state our professional capabilities, our educational credentials and the trades at which we have worked; all these questions, as if they were about to offer us generous salaries. These experts in other men’s sweat examine us closely, feeling our muscles and checking our teeth to reassure themselves that we are in a position to render profitable service.  We have to stand for inspection like animals on show at some country fair before they can be bought. The inspection lasts a full five hours, during which we are on our feet throughout, so much so that after four nights and three days of travelling and unspeakable suffering, our strength has all but deserted us.

Finally, about 14.00 hours, we are steered towards the Church which has recently been converted for use as a stable. The church’s high ceiling is punctured with holes. Birds come and go freely and unmolested and our only comfort will be that we are well protected from the cold and seasonal downpours.

We are issued with a cup of warm water which passes in the Lager for coffee and as to our rations, they inform us through the interpreter that these will be doled out tomorrow.

We thought we were the only denizens of the church, but, around 20.00 hours, in burst about 200 Frenchmen, back from their work detail. They fly off the handle when they see that we have occupied their sleeping places and a Babylonian uproar erupts. In rush the “police” thugs, lashing out madly at all and sundry and quelling the argument. The French have been here a month already and they too were brought in from Buchenwald camp and are entitled to the choice places. We withdraw from the usurped places and retreat into a different corner; eventually we settle ourselves down to sleep, huddled together like sheep.

31 October 1944: We have slept as deeply on the pebbles as if we had been resting on feather beds. We slept in our clothes and with clogs on our feet, on account of the cold and for fear of being robbed.

Here too, the wake-up call comes at 4.00 on the very dot. “Police” and “enforcers” deal with the sleepy heads using the Nazi system’s persuasive methods. We all step out into the square facing the stable; it is ringed with two lines of barbed wire; there we are issued with our bread and accompaniment, as well as the usual coffee.

At 5.00, we are assembled in the presence of the civilians and lined up in ranks two deep. On day one this operation eats up a lot of time and in the end, at around 8.00 we are escorted off to work. After about two kilometres we come to the factory and are turned over to the foremen. The factory, which is newly built, is in the village of Bad Gandersheim, 180 kilometers from the Dutch border.[42] This, our first day’s work in a factory building aircraft is quite eventful in terms of briefings and orders and the collection of tools from the stores: the interpreter is needed for even the merest thing so that we can make ourselves understood.

Our first contact with German civilians of both sexes in the factory, who look at us askance, is demoralising as far as we are concerned.

1 November 1944: The sleep issue is becoming an increasingly thorny issue and it is hard to resolve it since we are packed and cramped as best we can manage, on the ground and on top of a little straw and without any definite assigned spot. The punctuality with which we get the wake-up call stuns us all. Following the usual issue of food rations, we always leave the stable at five o’clock, regardless of weather or season and after rol- call off we march, arm in arm., in ranks five deep to our work.

2 November 1944: Today is the feast of the dead. We who wear the “red triangle” remember all the victims who have perished in these dismal places, all the martyrs who died for freedom’s sake and with our thoughts on our own dead loved ones who are far away but whom we carry always in our hearts. Working hours in the factory today and yesterday are as normal; the Nazis do not acknowledge the feast of the dead.   

3 November 1944: The work is tiresome and exhausting for those of us who are famished. 13 hours’ hard toil per day. From 6.00 until 19.30, with a thirty-minute break at midday for a cup of hot tea and a ten minute break at 9.00 and at 17.00 hours.

No sooner is work over than we are marshalled and, more often than not, counted in the factory and as in the mornings, arm in arm with our comrades, again in ranks five deep and marching military-style, we are off, back to the camp.

Near the stable, the SS make checks on us time and again and any punishments imposed are carried out. Afterwards, in Indian file, off we go to collect the wretched meal consisting of five boiled potatoes, mockingly referred to as “dinner”.

4 November 1944: This morning, a number of minor punishments are meted out for trivial offences committed overnight. For the sleepy-heads, a few random lashes. At work we are assigned the worst and heaviest tasks; we are mistreated worse than the French and even the Russians, just because we, once upon a time, were their allies.

The difficulty and our ignorance of the German language make our very existence a danger; moreover, there is an absence of good relations and solidarity among us deportees. At the plant, all the electrical installations are all in a block, but there are no shields on the things. The lighting is 220 volts and the engine-power 380 volts.

5 November 1944: It is Sunday and a full week has passed since our arrival in this labour camp.

Day of rest or not, we work through until 14.00 hours and we receive no supplementary rations: still the same broth and the usual crust of mouldy rye bread. At work, the civilians are forever threatening us: kicks and shoves are commonplace. Their demands are irreconcilable with our famished bodies; and besides, they insist that we carry out their demands to the letter, as if we were in Germany on a bona fide work contract and after having mastered German. The women feel no pity for us, and if we happen to get our hands on a potato or a carrot and pull up to the fire to bake it, even the so-called gentler sex is mindful of the Nazi message and reports us to the thuggish orderlies who enforce order at work.

12 November 1944: Today is Sunday, anyway.  In this, our second week of working, I have been able to observe lots of things: the behaviour of the civilians, in their working relationships with us deportees is worse than the treatment doled out to beasts of burden.

Work-days pass as usual. Up every morning at 4.00, and that includes the sick, and at 4.30 we have the distribution of rations. Most of the internees gobble down the entire day’s bread ration –  all 380 grams of it – as soon as it is distributed. 380 grams of rye bread is not even the equivalent of 150 grams of ordinary bread. At midday, there’s the usual hot tea and when the work is done the inevitable gatherings are accompanied by obscene sermons and fresh punishment orders. Finally, we have dinner, 5 boiled potatoes (some small, some big) and then bed down on the bare floor with a little straw.

I never weary of urging my pal Raspi, Vercelli, Martini, Morando and others to be a bit more even-handed in the distribution of the bread during the day lest our bodies suffer unduly from going without food for 14 hours on end. In the circumstances in which we find ourselves, we need to be able to set our own regimen. If a painter could see us, when we are lined up, moving off to and coming back after work, in lines five deep underneath the rain, he would paint one of the gloomiest paintings ever seen. By now we are broken-down machinery: one has a limp, the other an arm hanging in a sling, another his face bandaged just to cover up the eczema and the boils. Nobody cries any more because that is something for civilians, which we no longer are, and the quiet pain within each of us has broken us as men and as rebels.

19 November 1944: Third Sunday, our third working week over us; the civilian technicians are forever demanding more but our physiques are not up to such hard labour. On average we do 70 hours’ work per week, under the continual threat of the whip. When we leave our stalls it is still dark, just as it is as we return in the evenings, and we trudge through the calf-deep mud.  We grope our way back inside the stable, there being no lights. The road we travel to work is impassable, our clogs get stuck in the mud, walking is wearisome and our gait so cumbersome that we look like elderly eighty-year olds.

On the few occasions when our clogs get stuck in the mud, our naked foot is exposed and we cannot get the clogs back on because doing so would set back all the people walking behind us. (Here it can argued that whoever stops is lost). We are short of water for washing and indeed for drinking and even in the factory it is hard finding water. Our toilet arrangements are open-air ditches and these are pestilential everywhere. What the Germans demand of us, work-wise, is heartless; we are supposed to understand their systems and methodology, abide strictly by these as if this had always been our stock-in-trade. The Germans are afflicted with the disease of racial superiority, an intellectual superiority and they are proud and boastful, ambitious, obtuse and pig-headed and blinkered, but they are as obedient and disciplined as dogs; theirs is a steely discipline that strikes fear into the entire human race. Whenever they speak in their own language, we can sense the hatred they feel for us. In their actions, they are fiercer than the mastiffs that protect the flocks.  

As far as I am able, I try to keep the rest of the deportees at arm’s length and I have few close friends, among them a few sound Frenchmen. 

I spend my spare time hidden away, scribbling away, not just this journal but also the odd pointless poem; but, for me, this is a substitute for living by myself and it serves a purpose in that it keeps my spirits up and helps sustain my morale. It keeps me above and outside the brouhaha of jealousies and by steering clear of trivia and gossip, I do not come in for any of the resultant police reprisals.

As far as I can, I try to keep clear of the barter trading in the food which I strictly require. These petty diversions help fend off nostalgia for the countless memories from when I was a free man, now that I am part of the human herd.

26 November 1944: – Today is my fourth Sunday in the camp. I had a really bad time of it on my birthday and scribbled down a few poems about the thankless, dismal fate that has brought us here. The “Red Triangle” prisoners from every nation are downcast and overwhelmed with nostalgia when family occasions roll around. Some ponder their own names and those of their loved ones, others remember the date of their wedding, or the day of their first communion; sometimes, the sad date on which they lost some cherished partner.

Each day there is someone passing on his reminiscences to his dearest friend, in the hope of eliciting words of consolation to take the place of those he might have heard in the family home. A single day in this place would have been enough for great writers such as Victor Hugo, Émile Zola and Alexandre Dumas, enough for them to be inspired with the most powerful dramas that man has ever written and read. Only such great writers could set all this endless, unspeakable suffering down on paper. The sight of the morning distribution of food rations defies description. Nearly a thousand people jostling and shouting in a hellish confusion and huddled round lest they come last in this narrow space surrounded by barbed wire. Creatures from 7 countries babbling away in as many different tongues.  Naturally, the strongest shunt the weakest aside and force their way to the front. Most times, our watchdogs, the police, walk above our heads, meting out blows at random, simply on a whim and out of their insatiable thirst for vengeance.  

After the wretched distribution of rations, we are treated to the rococo trickery of the smokers. All that swearing, all these tricks, all the useless palaver just to trade some food for a little tobacco. Their vice outweighs their hunger. What they are after is an amount of tobacco, and not the quality thereof. Tobacco is the major currency in the camp and is the gold standard. Lots of these smokers ruin themselves entirely. They deny themselves food in return for some nicotine.

Some are already worn out but for the sake of their addcition they become somewhat more brutish, enduring canings that they could have avoided, smoking batches of dried leaves damaging to the health and thereby the shortest route to TB.

Yesterday, 25 November, whilst fetching some rations, Aristide Vercelli accidentally dropped his cup which fell to the ground and shattered: this event, which did not go unnoticed by the SS, earned him dire punishment.

VII

3 December 1944: – Sunday, and so great is our grief that we are no longer capable of expressing it; our hearts have become deaf to all appeal and every one of us is hard-eyed; we are like ghosts floating through the camp, perhaps searching for something, but lots of us have lost our reason.

We can no longer remember the world in which we once lived; only the cross, like a shield, stands before our eyes and is raised on Sundays, with ever greater majesty.

The yearned-for death which might end all our sufferings does not come. For all the maltreatment we receive from civilians and the police, our work hours seem to us like our happiest hours. While resting at night, there is noise and bickering instead of tranquillity. Thievery of blankets is ongoing; worry about the cold has us stealing the blankets of our fellow unfortunates. We switch sleeping spot every night.

Often one is forced to yield up a little tobacco in return for a stolen blanket or somewhere to stretch out. Every trick known to man is dreamt up and deployed here to spread the suffering to one’s neighbour.

At 20.00 every evening, the US Air Force is as punctual as any lovers’ tryst in forcing the distribution of our five potatoes to be held back for a few hours.   

For the thousand inmates from seven countries, there are just 250 mess-tins. As a result, there is much passing-on of sicknesses that might be averted if there were as many mess-tins as there are inmates, and there is not enough water to rinse them out, which prompts us to scurry to be first. We are obliged to put our lips where others have already put theirs.

Besides, our having to bed down so close to one another has led to the spread of infectious diseases, as has the lack of potable water and water to wash with. But these are matters in which the Nazis, our captors, take pride because they represent the virtues of the civilization and new order that they were to introduce to the world.

This state of affairs is due for the most part to the fact that the factory has been built recently in the woods in order to dodge enemy air raids.

10 December 1944: – With the onset of winter, the climate becomes the enemy of the roofless, the poorly clad and the badly fed. It looks as if even the weather has become our enemy. The sun keeps out of sight: the skies are forever cloudy and dismal. Only at night is there any quiet and even the sun’s warmth is denied us in these northern climes.

To cap it all, overnight frost, by morning, has delivered a thick layer of ice, leaving the road looking like a winter sports piste; as a result there are slips and falls aplenty. We are increasingly tormented by lice, having, thus far, had no change of underwear since leaving the camp in Dachau. After 40 days’ working in the electrical maintenance unit, highly dangerous work exposed to the elements, making repairs to high tension power lines, I apply to the Command for secondment to different work, invoking the claim that I did not understand a word of their language.

My request is granted and they assign me to the aluminium preparation unit. In this new unit, I am close to the workbench occupied by the student Aristide Vercelli, a youngster whose character is very hard to fathom. With a modicum of goodwill, I manage to earn his respect. I could sense that this 22-year old youth had a lot of hidden qualities which the existing way of life had derailed and tainted. In the camp he had come across a lot of treacherous sorts who, capitalizing upon his lack of experience, had tried and successfully induced him to trade his meagre food ration for tobacco, heedless of the fact that this is slowly killing him. Our friendship is increasingly closer in terms of our personal confidences, so much so that it has turned into a profound and heartfelt friendship built upon affection between two people of different social status and very different ages.

17 December 1944: – My friendship with Vercelli has made Raspi jealous and prompted sulking by friends Fucile and Scotto. To these cherished friends I said: there has been no change in my feelings for you; rather I bring you another friend, a creature who, but for the guidance of my experience, might have succumbed to vice and brutalization. Set aside your sideways glances and your hostility which have no need to target a youngster that was raised a fascist in a regime that by hook or by crook had its own way and pulled the wool over the eyes of the young. For the past several days we have been under the command of a new officer from the SS, that blight upon Europe. Tall and slim, regardless of his cynical, probing eyes, he promises us that he will lessen our suffering. Time will tell whether these roses will bloom. We are defenceless, our lives are in his hands and subject to his whims. That said, he does seem a thoughtful sort and is having new huts erected for us near the factory: but the work is being done by us, partly on Sundays and it is a hard and wearisome slog, not least because we are obliged to work in knee-deep mud and suffer ill-treatment at the hands of civilians. And then we discover that the huts have been built because the civilians have complained about the lice we are carrying in our clothing and about the risk of contagion due to their being in contact with us on the job. Lots of my Venetian, Ligurian and Lombard fellow countrymen have been assigned to these construction tasks and have tasted the pain, the suffering and the punishments inflicted upon them.

What is more, so many of our fellow unfortunates have been stricken with consumption, people like Manelli[43], Bonanno[44], Ghillenzoni[45], Panciarotti[46], Gallini, Lomazzi[47], Savioli[48], Calderani[49], Micheletti[50], Rossi[51], Botteri, Scala[52], Pinna[53] and so many others whose names escape me. My countryman Panciaroli, dodging surveillance during the morning trek to work, has a go at escaping but by late evening is recaptured in the home of some peasants who denounced him to the SS. Brought back to the camp, he is punished in the presence of us all, with 50 lashes across his bare back and then, by way of example and warning, is bound to a stake in the stables, his hands tied behind his back.

It appears, though, that the punishment inflicted upon him has been deemed insufficient, because Panciaroli from Verona was mysteriously abducted from the camp, never to be seen again. Maybe he has been dispatched to the Buchenwald camp, or killed outright.

Another two Milanese countrymen, Gino Sangaletti and Benedetto Imeri, caught up in nostalgia for traditional Christmas celebrations and imagining the end of the war to be imminent, run away from the factory at 17.00 hours on 15 December, dodging surveillance from all the serving goons and police.

These runaways who had drawn up plan after plan to ensure the success of their escape and who had even got their hands on civilian clothing and made their way through the barbed wire, which they had cut in advance, fail in the attempt. At 19.30 hours, our jailers realize that they are missing. Lengthy inquiries are then made to discover who it is that is missing and whether they have accomplices.

The factory is turned upside down and every nook and cranny is searched, but no trace is found of the two fugitives.

The SS commander is like a viper and threatens to have two other inmates strung up unless the escapers were recaptured. The commander assumes personal charge of the search, accompanied by two police dogs and a huge force of SS men.

After three days, however, our countrymen, who had so painstakingly planned their escape and having now run out of provisions give up, as every single German was a “Gestapo” agent and they bow to defeat.

No sooner have they been recaptured than they are severely punished and forced to spend the entire night on their knees in the stable yard. However, unlike Panciaroli, they are not shipped out because they are two fine specimens of dental crown work and gold teeth which the SS commander wants removed from the prisoners’ mouths.

VIII

For us, the insoluble problem is water, both drinking water and water for hygienic use and water to wash our faces with. The lice have launched their winter offensive, tormenting us day and night or putting us through our contortionist acrobatics during our rest periods.

We have already witnessed several cases of petechial typhoid. Soap is nothing but a myth: since our arrival in this camp we have not seen any, any more than we have seen other basic essentials required for basic standards of personal cleanliness.  We are still wearing the same items of clothing for working as well as sleeping in and there is no talk of their being changed, even though they may be stained and smeared with all manner of grime. Those in prison serving life sentences are better catered for than us and, unlike here, the most basic hygiene regulations are observed.

24 December 1944: – No matter where he may come from or his nationality, every deportee has cherished and nostalgic memories of Christmas Day and New Year’s Day; everyone is thinking of home, his mother, his wife, his father, his sister and his children from whom he is separated and a long way away on this holiday. Over the Christmas holidays we are left locked up in the stables for three days, like moles caught in a trap.

The Nazis have awarded themselves three days’ holiday during which to toast the ruination and blood they have spilled throughout Europe, both on the battle-field and in the notorious death camps strewn across Third Reich Germany. We respond to their derisive toasts by showering curses upon the criminal actions carried out by the Nazis between 2 September 1939 and today.

The arrival of the new cynical-eyed commander has done nothing to improve our conditions which are, indeed, growing worse by the day; our food rations are dwindling with every day that passes, even as the inflexibility of the discipline has been exasperatingly tightened up, with relentless threats that we might be strung up from a tree outside the stables.

My friendship with Vercelli is growing firmer by the day. The mutual respect and the filial affection he displays towards me, I find touching. We arrange, in the event that a benign fate should deliver us back home again, to set up a “Red Triangle” association such as already exists within the camp in embryonic form.

That association must be an umbrella group for all political deportees: meaning everybody in the concentration camps bearing the red triangle badge, the purpose being to encourage acts of fraternity and solidarity and mutual aid.

In the end, we are allowed to carry out a swift de-lousing operation: we are taken to the village of Gandersheim in batches of 25 at a time, under escort from a given number of SS personnel.

Having stripped, we enter a hut where we find two tubs of water ready for us and a cauldron in which to de-louse our underwear and blankets. We had hoped that this might be a good time to rid ourselves of all the parasites tormenting us and which, due to their huge numbers, stopped us from sleeping, no matter how weary and extremely weak we might be physically. But even that was just a dream. It amounted to wallowing in filth given that the water was only changed after every 25 people had used it.

That operation over, we found ourselves stuck with the same filthy, grimy underwear; we were, though, shorn like livestock over every part of our bodies.

The lice were decimated, though not eliminated.

31 December 1944: – Christmas Day, for us, was a rather dismal affair and only the thought of our nearest and dearest afforded us the strength to overcome the nostalgia attendant on that anniversary; it took a lot of mental strength to get us over the crisis. Lots had kidded themselves (it was the hunger speaking) that we might be getting a small supplementary ration for the Christmas holiday; instead, we are served the same broth and mouldy black bread. In an effort to banish the gloom of those three days locked up in the stables and in partnership with the French, we have a go at organizing a few choirs. The Russians and the Poles sang nostalgic songs from their homelands and the Italians followed suit, singing the odd song in our own language. My countryman Luigi Monti from Milan sang us a few songs in Milanese dialect.

The Russians and the Poles are inscrutable souls and we cannot fathom their stances. Even though they, rather than us, were targets for the wrath of the SS, for the holidays they prepared some toys for the children of the commander of the SS goons (by way of grinning in face of mischievous fate, perhaps). Above all, on occasion they sell out for a crust of bread and turn into informers working against us Italians and the French. Maybe these are exceptional and individual cases and anyway I have no wish to point an accusing finger at anyone. The individual is tainted by his environment.

The year 1945 stands on the threshold. On the anniversary I distribute a few poems to close friends to remind them of the civilized human partnership that lies ahead of us and I caution them all not to barter their rations away for smokes.

I vouchsafe to them my firm belief that as the months pass peace will smile upon us. It is precisely during this end-of-year period that I and Aristide Vercelli put the finishing touches to our arrangements for organizing the “Red Triangle” Association.

Membership of the association will be open to all deportees of either sex, regardless of age and social status. The association looks past all political notions and religious affiliations. It will be an association for all who have endured the burden of the concentration camps and the raids of the German SS and their fascist lackeys. Prisoners of war are to be excluded, as will be workers who came to Germany to work, with the exception of those who, for sabotaging that work or for breaches of military indiscipline, have been sent to the death camps.

In a follow-up to those initial arrangements, Vercelli commits to providing the funds needed in order to establish our association on firm foundations. The association’s moral purpose has to be to demonstrate to all peoples the wrongheadedness of war and, to upcoming generations, ideologies relating to racial superiority, so that they may be spared the many horrors, lots of pain and much grief that further wars for overlordship would assuredly bring.

7 January 1945: – Like Christmas Day, New Year’s Day was a sad and painful occasion for us, cut off as we are from the human community. These holidays turned out to be testing for our spirits, clouded by the most atrocious suffering, moral as well as material, suffering borne in silence in an agonizing way.

At New Year too we were left locked up in the stables for two days and were not issued with so much as an extra carrot to mark the holidays. Indeed, on New Year’s Day orders arrived from the SS command in Buchenwald that, due to economic strictures, our midday ration was to be replaced with “nothing” and our bread ration was cut from 380 to 300 grams.

Anticipating a repetition of what happened in 1918, Europe’s conqueror, the Germany of absolutist rule over all her peoples, bloodthirsty Hitlerite Germany, the Germany of the blitzkrieg, the Germany of the master-race, the Germany of barbarously violent instincts is forcing  her underling peoples to perish of hunger: just as long as she can win the war.

Instead, such measures are symptoms of defeat. The Nazis believe that by starving peoples they can secure victory and fail to appreciate that by their going down that wrong road, the war is going to be won by the Allied armies, and that victory is not going to be the economic one they would have us believe. Instead, it will be the greatest success of arms in recorded history.

***

14 January 1945: – In spite of the stepping up of air raids, there has been no easing of our work-rate or working hours. Day and night alike, Allied aircraft are bombing very close to where we are. Somewhat belatedly, perhaps, we find out about the Russians’ offensive north of Berlin. Such reports are a boost to our spirits and help us to endure with stoicism the brutishness of this life of ours.

Paeans of joy rise from our throats as we hail these victories; to us they will be like a life-line tossed to us in this sea of grief, if only we can hold out physically to the end. This life fosters the angriest feelings. The Russian approach is the most materialistic; it resorts to force and coercion to conquer everything in its path. The Poles are the greatest sticklers for etiquette, most of the inmates in this camp being former officers.

The French turn out to be the cleverest and shrewdest; there are lots of intellectuals among them. We Italians are all workers, with the occasional student or partisan making up the difference.

***

21 January 1945: – We are surrounded at all times by an endless swirl of snow and ice. The snow we turn to hygienic use: we very often wash in it and also use it to slake our thirst.

We are anxious for our very lives: the hunger we suffer is beyond all measure and we find it impossible to stand up, so weak have our legs become.

Lice inflict greater and greater torment upon us; and in this hand-to-hand combat, we are bested; our bodies are covered in bruises and festering sores created by scratching ourselves with dirty hands.

Six Italians have died. The medics tell us that death was due to pulmonary bronchitis. In actual fact, the real cause of their deaths was malnutrition and excessive suffering.

***

28 January 1945: – My countryman Umberto Raspi is rushed to the infirmary. He too is diagnosed with pulmonary bronchitis, in both lungs at that.

Along with Rosario Fucile, I managed to pay him a visit; we found him in a worrying condition, with a fever running at more than 40°. At the sight of this lion from the Sestri Ponente action squads in such straits in the infirmary, denied any hygienic or medical assistance under the supervision of a chancer who describes himself as a doctor, my heart is overwhelmed with pain. He is a dear friend and comrade whom I have known for a long time and for the very first time since we left Bolzano, tears well in my eyes.

Antonio Dettori

Text translated and annotated by Franco Bertolucci

Source:  A Rivista Anarchica, No 415, April 2017

_____________________________________________________________________________________

Antonio Andrea DETTORI (1892-1963)

Born in Bonorva (Sassari) 30 November 1892, son of Bachisio Dettori and Giuseppa Deriu. An electrician, he moved to Genoa with his brother Angelo (b. Bonorva 1894) at the beginning of the 1910s. In those restless times the Dettori brothers played a prominent part in the anarchist and trade union movements in Genoa. Angelo was active in the Valpolcevera anarchist group and in the trade union Chamber of Labour in Sestri Ponente and served as Sestri Ponente rapporteur at the Ligurian Convention of the Anarchist Union in May 1920 and was a delegate to the Italian Anarchist Union (UAI) national convention the same year.

Antonio, who worked at the Ansaldo shipyard was active in the Chamber of Labour in Bolzaneto. The factory take-overs in September 1920 found the Dettori brothers in the thick of it, as ever. With the advent of fascism the paths of the brothers diverged:

Angelo left for France; by September 1925 he would be a delegate to the national convention of the Italian Syndicalist Union (USI) in France, representing the Bolzaneto Metalworkers’ Union; after that he made his way back to Italy, to Cagliari.

Antonio stayed on in Genoa and over the ensuing years was placed under surveillance by the regime and included in the list of persons to be arrested in given circumstances. He also served a period of confinement on Ponza. In 1943, when the fascist regime collapsed, he, together with Umberto Raspi, was one of the main organizers of the libertarian action squads in Sestri Ponente. In the summer of 1944, he was arrested with some others on the word of an informer and deported to Dachau along with Raspi. Later he was imprisoned in Buchenwald. In early April 1945, Antonio was evacuated from the camp just a few days ahead of the arrival of the Allies, whereas the ailing Raspi was shot. He was to write a vivid description of his dramatic experiences as a prisoner in Memories of a Red Triangle. After the war, Antonio resumed his political and trade union activism; he was active within the Libertarian Communist Federation (FCL) in Liguria and then within the Ligurian Anarchist Federation following a short stint of support for the anarchist strand within the CGIL (Italian General Labour Confederation) and  in the late 1940s he was one of the lobbyists for the re-launch of the Italian Syndicalist Union (USI) and contributed to its newspaper Guerra di classe, published in Sestri Ponente. This choice brought him into a fierce polemic with those comrades who had stuck with the Trade Union Defence Committee within the CGIL ranks (people such as Marcello Bianconi, Pietro Cavaglia, Wanda Lizzari and others) whom he accused of deferring to the communist element. In the mid-1950s he became critical of how the new USI was working out and he wrote the trade union affairs page of the Genoa newspaper Sovranità popolare, with a column entitled “Class Action”, to which Domenico Pastorello and Ilario Margarita, among others, contributed. He died in Genoa on 24 April 1963.

Source: http://www.bfscollezionidigitali.org/


[1] Footnotes inserted by the editor. In the text the names of people and places have been left as in the original even though there might be the occasion misspelling, whereas in the notes, as a rule, the names have been given in their corrected form. Biographical details relating to individuals have been lifted from the following sources: Il libro dei deportati, research by the History Department at the University of Turin, under the supervision of B. Mantelli and N. Tranfaglia, sponsored by the ANED (National Ex-Deportees’ Association), Milan, Mursia 2009, Vol. 1, Tomes 1-3: R. Fucile Dachau: matricula n. 113305. Buchenwald: matricula n. 94453. Testimonianza di un soprevissuto, Genoa, [no further details] 1995.

[2] The “General Silvio Parodi” Brigade was the Genoa-based XXXI Brigade, its name being taken from the name of militia general Silvio Parodi, killed by the GAP on 19 June 1944. The “Squadra Mai Morti” was recruited from Apua, being made up of personnel from that area and of others from the Tyrrhenian Tuscany area. See A. Rossi: Fascisti toscani nella Repubblica di Salò 1943-1945, new revised and expanded edition, Pisa, BFS, 2006, n. 111

[3] Giusto Veneziani was a Security Force superintendent whereas Milan-born Carlo Emanuele Basile (1885-1972), a repeatedly decorated soldier who was a member, first, of the PNF from 1922 and later of the PNR from 12 September 1943 was one of the main henchmen and collaborators of the Nazis in the arrest and deportation of hundreds of Genoese. Right after the Second World War, he was to stand trial and was sentenced to death but benefitted from the clemency of the Italian courts and was then released, to continue his political activism in the ranks of the MSI. See L. Barco-P. Ferrazza, Una pagina della Resistenza. La casa dello studente di Genova, Milan, Pantarei 2012, passim.

[4] The reference here is to the execution in the Forte San Martino on 29 July 1944, by way of reprisal for the killing of General Silvio Parodi, of either five or four Genoese communists held responsible for the attempt on the life of the fascist hierarch; Aleandro Longhi, Goffredo Villa, Balilla Grillotti, Mario Cossurino and Giacinto Rizzoglio. See R. Scappini Da Empoli a Genova (1945), Milan, La Petra, 1981, passim 

[5] Giovanni Solari was born in Genoa on 30 November 1907. Deported to Germany, he arrived in Dachau on 9 October 1944. Initially registered under the number 113525. Categorized as “Schutz”. He died in Dachau on 18 December 1944.

[6] For Umberto Raspi, see the biographical outlines given for the dictionary of deportees included in the present dossier.

[7] Francesco Ottonello was born in Genoa on 28 September 1918. On 5 October 1944, he was deported from Bolzano to Dachau, arriving there on 9 October. His prison number was 113439. He was categorized “Schutz”. He was set free in Dachau on 209 April 1945.

[8] This was the Gries-Bolzano transit concentration camp, prepared during the summer of 1944 following the decision to dismantle the Fossoli concentration camp near Carpi (Modena) for security reasons. Intended to 1,500 prisoners and covering an area of 2 hectares, with a separate women’s block and 10 huts for the men, it was subsequently expanded with a range of sub-sections scattered throughout the area, its maximum capacity being boosted to around 4,000 prisoners. The camp was run by the Verona SS under the command of a Lieutenant Titho and maresciallo Haage who had earlier performed the same duties in the Fossoli camp. These had at their command a garrison of Germans, South Tyrolese and Ukrainians (the latter, who were very young, being sadly remembered by the deportees on account of their sadism).Gries was a holding centre for political prisoners, partisans (or members of partisans’ families taken as hostages)  Jews, gypsies and Allied POWs; the registration number assigned to the camp was 11,115 but many of the deportees – starting with the Jews – were not given a registration number. Dario Venegoni has identified the names and broad details of 7,809 deportees an had hypothesized that the overall figure for deportees in that camp might be around 9,500. Lots of transports left between the summer of 1944 and February 1945, bound for Ravensbrück, Flossenbürg, Dachau, Auschwitz and Mauthausen.  On the basis of Italo Tibaldi’s research, Dario Venegoni has established the names of 3,405 people deported to camps in the Reich and of 2,050 men, women and children who never returned. There was a resistance organization active inside the camp and it was in close contact with a support structure on the outside. See D. Venegoni Uomini, donne e bambini nel Lager di Bolzano. Una tragedia italiana in 7,982 storie individuali, 2nd edition, Milan, Fondazione Memoria della Deportazione-Mimesis, 2005

[9] Aristide Vercelli was born in Asti on 25 or 29 May 1922 and was a university student. Deported to Germany, he arrived in Dachau on 9 October 1944. Prison number 113591 and then 94488, he was categorized as “Schutz” and later as “Pol”.) He was transferred to Buchenwald on 27 October 1944 and assigned to the Bad Gandersheim sub-camp where he died on 13 April 1945.

[10] Don Andrea Gaggero was born in Meie (Gerona) on 12 April 10916; even as a young man in the seminary he devised ways of indicating his own antifascist sentiments before taking his priestly vows in 1940 (as one of the Philippine Fathers). After the September 1943 armistice, his church of San Filippo Neri in Genoa’s Via Lomellini, became a support base for partisan activity. Gaggero was the only priest in the whole of Italy to take part in the activities of a military command within the earliest partisan units raised in the Ligurian Appennines. On 6 June 1944 he was arrested and imprisoned and tortured for almost forty days although the fascists were unable to get him to talk. Brought before the courts, he was given an 18-year prison sentence and was then transferred to the Bolzano camp (prisoner number 4035) where he was active within the underground resistance committee and from where he was moved on 14 December 1944, initially, to Dachau and then to Mauthausen (prisoner number 113979). He was categorized as “Geistlicher”. Having survived hunger, cold and brutality, Don Gaggero was liberated on 5 May 1945. On hi return to Genoa he resumed his priestly duties but agreed to chair the Ligurian Ex-Deportees’ Association. In 1950, with the “Cold War” at its height, he accepted an invitation to Warsaw, to the ‘Partisans of Peace’ World Congress where he delivered a speech and was voted on to the Council. On returning to Italy he was summoned before the Holy Office which, in May 1953, laicized him “for serious disobedience”.  Don Gaggero did not give up his lobbying for peace and in 1961 served as chair of the Italian Committee and, together with Aldo Capitini, sponsored a venture that had a worldwide impact: the Perugia-to-Assisi Peace March. He died in Rome on 20 June 1988. See A, Gaggero, Vestio di omo, Florenze, Giunti 1991, pp. 113-149

[11] At this point in the research engineer Anatrà from Ansaldo has yet to be identified, whereas another Genoese industrial engineer was deported to Dachau; this was Luigi Astengo, born in Genoa on 4 December 1896. He was deported to Germany on 20 January 1944, as prisoner number 61958. He was categorized as “Schutz”.  He was freed by the Alies in late April 1945 in Allach (Dachau).

[12] Rosario Fucile was born on 26 November 1914 in Messina; he was a salesman and mechanic. A partisan, he was arrested in Porto Maurizio and transferred to Bolzano concentration camp and thence to Dachau on 9 October 1944 (prison number 113305, categorized “Schutz”). He was then moved to Buchenwald on 27 October 1944 (prisoner number 94453). Freed by the Allies in April 1945.

[13] Redano Giambattista Martini was born in Genoa on 9 June 1925: he was a lathe-operator. Deported from Bolzano to Dachau on 5 October 1944, arriving there on 9 October 1944. He was again transferred, this time to Mauthausen and from there on to the Bad Gandersheim sub-camp, prisoner number 113405, then 94554. Categorized as “Schutz” and then “Pol”.

[14] Pietro Mazzucco was born in Cairo Montenotte (Savona) on 21 February 1892 and was a peasant. Arrested in Cengio (Savona), he was deported on 5 October 1944 from Bolzano to Dachau, arriving there on 9 October. Prison number 113415. Category “Schutz” prisoner. Died in Überlingen on 26 February 1945.

[15] Ettore Renato Morando, mechanic, was born in Sampiedarena (Gerona) on 4 August 1924. After arrest in Sampiedarena he was deported on 5 October 1944 from Bolzano to Dachau, arriving there on 9 October, before being transferred to Mauthausen and thence to the Bad Gandersheim sub-camp. Prisoner number 113412 and then 94555. Category “Schutz” prisoner and then “Pol”.

[16] This may be Emilio Gaggero, a lathe-operator born in Gerona on 8 April 1909. Deported to Germany, he arrived in Dachau on 9 October 1944 and on 27 October 1944 was transferred to Buchenwald and thence to the Bad Gandersheim sub-camp. Prisoner number 113338 and later 94459. Category “Schutz” prisoner, then “Pol”.

[17] Dachau concentration camp was situated about 16 kms northwest of Munich in Bavaria. The set-up had been based on rehabilitation of the products and premises of a decommissioned First World War arms factory. The first deportees to reach Dachau were German civilians charged with membership of left-wing organizations (socialists, communists, trade unionists, anarchists and subversives generally). Come the outbreak of the Second World War, the camp underwent a radical transformation due to the arrival of deportees from every part of Nazi-occupied Europe; Russians, Poles, French, Italians, Czechoslovaks, Hungarians, etc. During the war some 200,000 deportees passed through the camp (upwards of 10,000 of them were Italians), but this is probably an under-estimate. Soon there was a clandestine resistance committee operating with the camp. On 29 April 1945 the American troops who liberated the camp recorded the presence of 31,432 people, in addition to a further 36,245 scattered through the sub-camps and detachments. These were the survivors still on site, but we do not know the numbers of those who, shortly ahead of the Allies’ arrival, were removed by forced march to other camps such as Mauthausen and Buchenwald.  The number who lost their lives in the camp has yet to be established. The records of the camp’s registry give the figure of dead as around 45,000, but obviously these “official” figures fall far short of the daily horrors in Dachau.

[18] Pietro Repetto was born in Sestri, Genoa on 26 October 1912. A partisan, he was arrested at his own home in January 1944, was held in Marassi prison and included in the transport that left Genoa on 16 January 1944 and was transferred to Dachau, arriving there on 19 or 20 January., as prisoner number 61949. Category “Schutz” prisoner. He was freed from Dachau by America troops on 29 April 1945.

[19] Gian Battista Biddau was born in Genoa on 6 November 1885 whereas his son Natale was born in the same city on 27 December 1919. Both men were deported to Dachau on 20 January 1944 (prisoners numbers 61950 and 61947, both classified as “Schutz”). They were liberated by the Americans on 29 April 1945.

[20] Mario Colandro, a workman, was born in Sestri Ponente (Gerona) on 25 June 1902. He was arrested in Genoa by the SS and deported to Germany, to Dachau, where he arrived on 20 January 1944 as prisoner number 61951, category “Schutz”. He was shot in Dachau on 15 January 1945 although other sources suggest that he died on 24 February 1945.

[21] In all likelihood this was Antonio Adamo, a workman and partisan born in Cagliari on 25 August 1907, arrested by the Nazis in Genoa and deported to Dachau on 20 January 1944 as prisoner 61938. A “Schutz” category prisoner.

[22] Rolando Pietro Ciotti, a mechanic, was born in Savona on 11 September 1911. Arrested in Genoa he arrived in Dachau on 20 January 1944 as prisoner number 61963. Category “Schutz” prisoner. Freed by Allied troops on 29 April 1945.

[23] Enrico Solari was born in Genoa on 20 May 1913 and was deported to Dachau on 20 January 1944. Prisoner number 61946, category “Schutz”. Died in Dachau on 21 February 1945.

[24] Ugo Ughi was born in Milan on 20 December 1891. Arrested in Genoa he arrived in Dachau on 20 January 1944. Prisoner number 61945, category “Schutz”. Freed by Allied troops on 29 April 1945.

[25] Stefano Ernest Tubino was born in Pegli on 21 September 1906. Arrested in Pegli, he arrived in Dachau on 20 January 1944, prisoner number 61942, category “Schutz” prisoner, He died in Dachau on 24 Match 1945.

[26] Office worker Francesco Carlo Canepa was born in Corumba (Brazil) on 31 October 1905. He was arrested in Genoa and deported to Bolzano and from there to Dachau on 5 October 1944 as prisoner number 113264 and later 94447. On 27 October he was transferred from Dachau to Mauthausen and thence to the Bad Gandershein sub-camp. He was a category “Schutz” and later “Pol” prisoner. Freed by Allied troops in April 1945.

[27] Ferrara was presumably deportee Giuseppe Ferrara, born in Linguaglossa on 6 December 1908, a sales representative. He was arrested and sent to Bolzano and arrived in Dachau between 9 and 10 October 1944 as prisoner number 113308 and, later, number 94454. Category “Schutz” and, later, “Pol”. Moved to Buchenwald on 27 October he was then transferred to the Bad Gandersheim sub-camp. He died on 2 February 1945, although other sources place the date of his death in April.

[28] Luciano Gallini, carpenter, was born in Finale Emilia (Reggio Emilia) on 12 January 1908. Arrested in Milan, he was then deported to Bolzano on 7 September 1944 and thence to Dachau on 5 October, prisoner number 113324 and, later, 94457. Category “Schutz” and later “Pol” prisoner. Freed by Allied troops in April 1945.

[29] Luigi Monti, draughtsman, was born in Milan on 23 August 1923. Arrested in Milan he was deported to Bolzano and then, on 5 October 1944, to Dachau, arriving there on 9 October. Prisoner number 113388 and, later, 94466. Category “Schutz” and then “Pol” prisoner. On 27 October he was transferred to Buchenwald and then to Bad Gandersheim.

[30] Vitaliano Zappi was born in Milan on 11 September 1911. Deported from Milan on 7 October 1944 to Bolzano and then on to Dachau, where he arrived on 9 October. Prisoner number 113614 and, later, 94493. Category “Schutz” and then “Pol” prisoner. On 27 October he was transferred to Buchenwald.

[31] Mario Minetti, mechanic, born in Rome on 2 February 1922. Deported on 5 October 1944 from Bolzano to Dachau, arriving there on 9 October. Prisoner number 113414 and then 94470. Category “Schutz” and then “Pol”. On 27 October he was transferred to Buchenwald and thence to the Bad Gandersheim sub-camp.

[32] This Cappuozio may have been office worker Francesco Cappuozio born in Forino (Avenza) on 8 October 1920. Deported to Germany, he arrived in Dachau on 5 October 1944. Prisoner number 112828 and then 94284. Category “Schutz” prisoner and then “Pol”. On 27 October he was transferred to Buchenwald and shortly after that assigned to the Bad Gandersheim sub-camp.

[33] Antonio Scotto, draughtsman, was born in Savona on 12 November 1926. Deported from Bolzano to Dachau on 5 October 1944, arriving in Dachau on 19 October. Prisoner number 113539, later 94494. Category “Schutz” and later “Pol” prisoner. On 27 October he was transferred to Buchenwald and then to Bad Gandersheim.

[34] Emilio Bocca was born in Savona on 15 January 1928. Deported from Bolzano to Dachau on 5 October 1944, arriving there on 9 October. Prisoner number 113168 and later 94431. Category “Schutz” and later “Pol” prisoner. On 27 October 1944 he was moved to Buchenwald and then on to Bad Gandersheim.

[35] Renato Bruschi, mechanic, was born in Genoa on 18 June 1906. On 5 October 1944 he was deported from Bolzano to Dachau, arriving there on 9 October. Prisoner number 113183 and later 94434. Category “Schutz” prisoner and later category “Pol”. On 27 October he was transferred to Buchenwald and then to Bad Gandersheim, where he would be liberated by the Allies.

[36] Ernesto Pareto, deliveryman and apprentice fitter was born in Sori (Genoa) on 30 November 1923 or 1925. He was arrested either in Capreno or in Sori on 29 July 1944 by men from the Monterosa Division and held in Marassi prison in Genoa before being transferred to the Bolzano concentration camp and thence to Dachau, arriving on 9 October 1944. Prisoner number 11364 and then 94562. Category “Schutz” and later “Pol”. On 27 October he was moved to Buchenwald and thence to Bad Gandersheim. The date of his death is not known.

[37] Mario Luigi Zampotti was born in Genoa on 24 November 1944. Deported on 5 October 1944 from Bolzano to Dachau, arriving there on 9 October. Prisoner number 113606 and later 04491. Category “Schutz” and then “Pol”. On 27 October he was transferred to Buchenwald and then to Bad Gandersheim where he died on 20 March 1945.

[38] The Buchenwald concentration camp had been set up on 16 July 1936 near the city of Weimar. The camp was made ready thanks to the labours of around 300 deportees drawn from the defunct Lichtenburg camp near Leipzig. It is reckoned that prior to the outbreak of the Second World War the camp would have played host to just under 10,000 deportees, almost all of German origin. By the end of December 1943 the records speak of a population of 37,319 and by the following December this had risen to 63,084 and, by March 1945, to 80,346. It is estimated that over the course of its existence about 230,000 people passed through Buchenwald. Recorded deaths stood at 56,544. When troops from the Allied armies reached the camp on 13 April 1945 the camp had already been liberated thanks to an uprising by the deportees themselves, orchestrated by an international committee which had overpowered the SS guards. 

[39] The deportees were transferred to Bad Gandersheim where there was a sub-camp that was a satellite of Buchenwald. Prior to the construction of that sub-camp, in the summer of 1944, the Bad Gandersheim area had employed lots of slave labourers, drawn primarily from Eastern Europe – Russians, Poles, etc., – deployed in the various farms around the area. Obviously, their living conditions were very harsh and lots of them perished from malnutrition and violence at the hands of their jailers.

[40] The de-consecrated monastery church is in fact a building dating back to the 9th century AD and is located in the vicinity of the factory in Brunshausen near Bad Gandersheim. The deportees assigned to slave labour were billeted in that church, which lacked any form of heating, toilet arrangements and with a range of structural flaws. Later the prisoners were to be forced to build, by their own unaided efforts, in very severe climatic conditions and on inadequate rations, a number of huts on the ground owned by the company. Not until February 1945 were those new buildings ready.

[41] Ferdinando Testa might be carpenter Ferdinand or Ferdinando Testor, born in Buchenstein (in Italian, Livinallongo del Col di Lana) on 19 September 1893. In 1923 he moved to France. He joined the antifascist ranks in Spain in August 1936 (serving with the Del Barrio and Trueba Column’s Garibaldi Battalion). In March 1937 he was wounded in action, taken prisoner, removed to Italy in September 1937 and interned (on Tremiti) for 5 years Having served out that sentence he was held as an internee and then released in August 1943. In 1944 he was rearrested and held in prison in Bolzano. Deported to Germany, he arrived in Dachau from Reichenau-Innsbruck on 9 October 1944. Prisoner number 113557 and then 94486. His classification was “Pol”. On 27 October he was transferred to Buchenwald and thence to the Bad Gandersheim sub-camp.

[42] The Ernst Heinkel Flugzeugwerke A.G., a German aircraft firm specializing in building bombers for the Luftwaffe, decided, as the front line was getting closer in the summer of 1944 to relocate its Mielec subsidiary, a Polish aircraft plant, to Brunshausen where the premises of Carl Brun’s Kreienser firm were turned over to the production of rockets for deployment on the HE 219 night-fighters. In addition to 136 German specialist workers, office workers and guards the workforce was made up of concentration camp labourers: between October and December 1944 some 600 prisoners were moved to Brunshausen from the Buchenwald, Dachau and Sachsenhausen concentration camps. The first transport of 200 prisoners from Buchenwald – they included the Frenchman Robert Antelme – arrived on 2 October 1944. A further 331 prisoners from Dachau via Buchenwald arrived between the end of October and the start of November and these included the anarchists Antonio Dettori, Umberto Raspi and Pietro Repetto . The final transport of 50 “slave labourers” was brought in on 19 December from the Sachsenhausen camp. The prisoners, all male, were drawn from 14 different countries. The majority of them were French, Italian, Russian and Poles, with a sprinkling of Germans. Their average age was 30. See F. Baranowski Bad Gandersheim in Der Ort des Terrors. Geschichte der nazionalsozialistischen Konzentrazionslager, Band 3, Sachsenhausen, Buchenwald mit Nebenlagern, Munich, C H Beck, 2006, pp. 374-376

[43] Loris Manelli, painter, was born in Genoa on 31 January 1912. On 5 October 1944 he was deported from Bolzano to Dachau, arriving on 9 October. Prisoner number 113403 and then 94553. Category “Schutz” and then “Pol” prisoner. On 27 October he was transferred to Buchenwald and on to Bad Gandersheim, where he died on 4 April 1945.

[44] Lathe-operator Sante or Santo Bonanno was born in Genoa on 24 December 1921.On 5 October 1944 he was deported from Bolzano to Dachau, arriving on 9 October. Prisoner number 112764 and then 94273. Category “Schutz”, then later “Pol”. On 27 October he was transferred to Buchenwald and then to Bad Gandersheim where he died on 4 April 1945.

[45] This Ghillanzoni may well be plumber Franco Grillenzoni born in Finale Liguria (Modena) on 8 September 1923. Deported to German, he arrived in Dachau on 9 October 1944. Prisoner number 113339 and then 94460. Category “Schutz”, then “Pol”. He was then transferred to Buchenwald and thence on 27 October to the Bad Gandersheim sub-camp. He died in Clausthal Zellerfeld prison on 6 April 1945.

[46] Panciarotti and/or Panciaroli was presumably Plinio Pancirolli born in Verona on 14 December 1892, a mechanic. Arrested in Verona, he was then deported to Germany, to Dachau, arriving there on 9 October 1944. Prisoner number 113450, then 94561. Category “Schutz” and then “Pol”. He was transferred from Dachau to Buchenwald on 27 October 1944 and then assigned to the Bad Gandersheim sub-camp where he died on 10 January 1945.

[47] Ugo Lomazzi, mechanic, born in Fagnano Olona (Verona)on 17 November 1923. Arrested o 14 August 1944, he was deported from Milan to Bolzano on 20 September and then on 5 October was transferred to Dachau, arriving on 9 October. Prisoner number 113370, then 94462. Category “Schutz” then “Pol”. He was transferred from Dachau to Buchenwald on 27 October and then assigned the Bad Gandersheim sub-camp where he was liberated by Allied troops in April 1945.

[48] Cesare Saviotti or Savietti, mechanic, was born in Milan on 29 April 1925. Deported to Bolzano, he was transferred on 5 October to Dachau, arriving there on 9 October. Prisoner number 113522, then 94482. Category “Schutz” and then “Pol”. Transferred from Dachau to Buchenwald on 27 October 1944 and then assigned to the Bad Gandersheim sub-camp.

[49] Giovanni Calderani, blacksmith, was born in Nimis (Udine) on 14 November [***] He was arrested in Nimis and transferred to Dachau on 5 October 1944. Prisoner number 112826, then 94262. Category “Schutz” then “Pol”. On 27 October he was transferred to Buchenwald and on to the Bad Gandersheim sub-camp where he died on a date unspecified.

[50] Rino Micheletti, mechanic was born in Vicenza on 1 June 1919 (other sources have him born on 8 July or 6 August 1925). Prisoner number 112969, then 94353. Category “Schutz”, then “Pol”. On 27 October 1944 he was transferred to Buchenwald and from there to the Bad Gandersheim sub-camp. He was later transferred to Ravensbrück.

[51] In the list of those deported to Bad Gandersheim, there are two deportees with the surname Rossi. Mario Rossi, born in Milan on 6 or 8 May 1915, arrested in Milan, arrived in Dachau on 9 October 1944. Prisoner number 113493, then 94479. Category “Schutz” and then “Pol”. He was transferred to Buchenwald on 27 October, then assigned to the Bad Gandersheim sub-camp. There was also a Romeo Rossi, born in Crespano della Grappa (Treviso) on 26 May 1924. He was a mechanic. Deported to Dachau, arriving there on 9 October 1944. Prisoner number 113491 and then 94478.  Category “Schutz” then “Pol”. Transferred to Buchenwald on 27 October and then posted to the sub-camp in Bad Gandersheim.

[52] Remo Scala, a university student, was born in the Avesa district of Verona (27 October 1924). By 1843 he was serving with the signals corps (and was a brother of the female partisan Marisa Scala, later deported to the Bolzano lager). After 8 September 1943 he operated in ‘Giustizia e Libertà’ and ‘autonomous’ units in the Cuneo area. In April 1944 he moved to Turn where he was arrested by the police on 11 July and placed in the Carceri Nuove. He was then moved from Turin to Bolzano in September and from there shipped on to Dachau on 5 October, arriving there on 9 October .Prisoner number 113533, then 94564.  Category “Schutz” and then “Pol”. On 27 October 1944 he was transferred to Buchenwald and then assigned to the Bad Gandersheim sub-camp, where he was liberated by Allied troops in April 1945 during the march to evacuate the camp.

[53] This Pinna might be Emanuele Pinna, born in Abbasanta (Oristano) on 11 January 1924. Prisoner number 94272 (Buchenwald). He died in Bad Gandersheim on 4 April 1945. Buried in Bad Gandersheim-Salzberg.