What is the newfound freedom?
What was the liberation from war, fascism and oppression that is celebrated on 25th April? An answer comes from an old notebook with yellowed pages: a joy that makes you cry. Tears that are too good to be hidden. Corrado tells us about this, from a diary, not even too crumpled considering its sixty-six years of age, found by his son Alexander in a forgotten box of old mementos.
Corrado Capecchi passed away almost three and a half years ago. During World War II he was in Albania as an auxiliary carabiniere and he was deported and interned in a labour camp in the north-west of Germany in Wietzendorf, between Hanover and Braunschweig. That notebook, hidden somehow, is his diary of imprisonment. Corrado was captured after the armistice of September 8th: 600,000 Italian soldiers who left, many less would return, who were the protagonists of a “Resistenza senz’armi” (Unarmed Resistance).
In 1943 he was 22 years old. He told us his story more than fifteen years ago. Then he told it, later, to children in schools as well. Many in the village used to know him: a man more than eighty years old who lived in the central square of Carmignano. In 2002 he wrote to President Ciampi to recount the many insults suffered by the Italian military internees: the silence endured until 1977, the loose change announced by the Germans as compensation in 2000 but only granted to deported civilians .”I fight not for the money but for a principle” he used to say. He died with the consolation of a medal of honour announced but which he had not enough time to see.

That diary had always remained in a drawer and forgotten and when his son found it It really made his heart skip a beat. The story begins on September 25th 1943 and ends on April 12th 1945. Just 21 days are recounted:
Few pages, after all, because there was little paper, and seven months were spent in hospital (his luck, probably) and because hope was fading away as well as the desire to write. The pages were few, but intense, and even well-written. Freedom is the word which is repeated almost on every page and among the most frequently cited, along with God and mum. You can read about despair: “This cannot last long, it would be horrible” he writes on the fourth day. The cold, the first snow and the cruelties are described as well as the vexation to which the inmates were subjected. Inmates working as Corrado with “pick and shovel” to build barracks of all kinds, while in the factories nearby unlikely amtraks, aircrafts and the notorious V1 and V2 flying bombs were being produced. They were called “stik”, pieces.
“Are they beating us for nothing? he notes – but one day God will punish them. What wrong have we done?”. And then: “We eat barely enough to stand” Every day at dawn they had to follow a bumpy and muddy path at least five kilometres long. On the sides there were plantations of beets, potatoes and carrots. But woe befel the one who picked even a single fruit: the punishments were exemplary. There is also the disappointment in fascism and war: “After long years of endless sacrifices, this is the reward”, he writes on October 2nd.
Praying is the only comfort. The main concerns are for loved ones, who do not hear from him. Finally at Christmas prisoners are allowed to write a postcard.” Let’s hope it arrives” Corrado confides to diary. But he’d rather die than fight alongside the Germans in the Republic of Salò. In the camps they tried to recruit soldiers among the internees.” A fascist crow came to seek volunteers?” He recounts Few, very few indeed are those who join. (…) We are unrecognisable, empty and emaciated faces, pale and suffering and we are all hungry, hungry, hungry.(…). “Me?” – Corrado explains – I prefer to die of hunger than fight for these inhuman German monsters”. Because freedom is basically born of   ideas and a moral law that does not allow trading. (Wf)

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