Saturday, February 03, 2018

"A seemingly pregnant woman would not be suspected of stuffing her clothes with pamphlets, Resistance newspapers, or even weapons."

Italian women  partisans on the Castelluccio front (1944) .Waiting to go on patrol with the US  5th Army.

Late in the winter of 1943 ,three British SAS soldiers were dropped into (still) fascist occupied Italy.deep in a remote mountain region.
The  3 Brits were sheltered by villagers& partisans  in the remote hamlet of Gessopalena
One local must have  'grassed' on them?
Anyway, they were soon arrested, taken away & tortured by the Germans.
As punishment for trying to protect these English Squadies, on 21st January 1944 the  Luftwaffe bombed Gessopalena and completely destroyed  it.
Now ,perhaps different nations react differently to grief?
The Poles In Warsaw, they rebuilt an identical copy of their city after WW2.
However ,Italians( seeming to love ruins.)... kept Gessopalena's damage complete & intact......
They did bury  the bodies ,but otherwise  did nothing.....other than to move the undamaged  church bell .
To this day , nothing else  has ever been  moved!
 Clothes, toys furniture ,books ,mirrors....etc.remain  in exactly the same spot they were on the day the Luftwaffe called..
Somekind of  permanent record of what  " normality." might once have looked like for the victims.?
These days ,its rather weird when you hear that original  church bell call  the new villagers  to Mass in the new church in "new" Gessopalena which was later built a 100 yards away...............
I scratched my head and tried to  work out which was the "real"village and   which was the "replica"......

My son Chris.    Our friend Mick   & myself in Italy in 2010
 ( i briefly owned a ruined cottage in the Abruzzo mountains at the time ) Damien Rice: Montreal 2017(famous blue raincoat):Jackson Browne: Osaka, Japan; October 23, 2017:(late for the sky)
This is a sepia saturday post.The themes this week are Dance : Performance : Costumes : Stage

i found this photo in 2009 in a junkshop in Lanciano.I was told these are firemen .....Ironically!  looking like a bunch of girls........!


Little Nell said...

This is a story I’d never heard before. How tragic for the villagers.I expect it was quite a moving experience to visit the ruins.

Wendy said...

That's one way to say, "Never forget." (I always enjoy your music selections.)

Molly's Canopy said...

Sometimes mute testimony can speak more eloquently than mere words -- as this decimated village has done for decades. Should anyone question the need to stop fascists the minute they reemerge, the ruins of Gessopalena provide the answer. Thank you for this illuminating post.

Mike Brubaker said...

That's an extraordinary story, Tony. Thank you for introducing a bit of Italian history. I just toured the monument via Google Maps street view and it's an incredible mountain view landscape, yet not in the more familiar northern Italian range. Your linked history was fascinating. I've read a few books on the Austrian-Italian conflict in WW1. The battlefields were nothing like the trench warfare in Belgium/France, but instead put soldiers up high in the Italian alps. Quite a lot of the decaying fortifications remain and look like Gessopalena.

Sandra Williamson said...

Hmmm a bunch of girls ... I suppose that was supposed to be an insulting remark by the speaker. I'm glad they were able to find warmth - I bet those coats and their acquisition have a fascinating tale to tell in themselves, there is obviously some sort of shared comment/joke between all those pictured. Pictures such as these, help uncover the untold stories that would otherwise be overlooked and forgotten. A wonderful image in spite of the setting.
Thanks for sharing.

Barbara Rogers said...

Appreciate learning about the war, the town, the memorial. I also enjoyed your good photos. However, that last one of "firemen" dressed in strange (women's?) coats is still posed in a ruin...again sad.

tony said...

Barbara .Well,someone locally told me they were firemen.All that fur looks highley flamable ,but what do I know? ( how many blazing bears does anyone see in a lifetime....?) Sandra I see the photo as a kind of double-bluff as i imagine women were not taken as serious fighters in those days...Fascist Pride would have taken a severe dent ( adding insult to injury) by being shot by a Girl!Mike Abruzzo is/was an extremly isolated culture.In many ways very untypical of other parts of Italy (even nearby Rome or Tuscany).To be honest (if flippant)much of that part of Italy still looks like a bomb hit it....The population is dropping.Plus it's getting more elderly, as the young move to other regions for work...many abandoned properties..this time due to Economic War Molly I agree with you .Especially given the news from Italy this weekend about about new fascist shootings Wendy glad you like the music choices.You have good taste (i.e. the same as mine!)NellIt was.Strangly..the most moving bit for me was seeing an old wooden chair in the corner of a room.(with nobody their to ever sit on it again....)