Diary of Writing Italy’s Sorrow

Pavia, November 3, 2005 
Up and away fairly early to see a number of Partisans in Piacenza.  Not only has Sir Stephen Hastings died, so too has Muro, while Bruno Gandolfi is very ill, so it was a different group of ex-Partisans that we met this time.  Again, they were very interesting.  One had been a Communist, the other had not.  It was a difficult interview for Julia because at the ANPI (Italian National Partisan Association) offices where we met them, there were a number of different people listening and interjecting at various intervals.  I am becoming increasingly interested in the choices Italians had to make. The majority, I’m sure, simply tried to keep their heads down and not pledge themselves to either side, but if you were young and of an age where you faced compulsory call-up, you simply HAD to make a choice.  Carlo, the Communist, for example, had joined the Partisans because the boss at the factory where he worked was murdered by the Fascists and felt sure he would be next; Pino, on the other hand, had done so because he did not want to fight for the Fascists or work for the Germans.  They showed us a number of gruesome photographs of dead Partisans, all killed by the Fascist Militia and Fascist Black Brigades.

In the afternoon, we then went to visit Antonio Cuciatti, who had joined the Decima MAS whilst still in his teens.  His family had always been fairly pro-Fascist – supporters of Mussolini at any rate – but Antonio had wanted to join the Decima MAS from a very early age.  They were the best troops Italy had, he explained, and simply wanted to be a part of that elite

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