Yesterday at 11.30 am at the memorial stone commemorating the concentration camp at Socciglia in the comune of Borgo a Mozzano a ceremony was held for all those victims held there either for hard labour or for eventual transportation to the German extermination camps.
Present were the mayor of Borgo a Mozzano, Patrizio Andreuccetti, who delivered a very pointed speech, quoting phrases by Hannah Arendt, representatives from the Gothic Line preservation society and local branches of the Alpinisti regiment who had suffered the greatest losses in World War II during the Russian campaign.
The morning was overcast with thick grey clouds and there was a slight drizzle – almost like tears from the heavens.
I was able to find out more about the camp from those present, many of who had been little children or whose fathers had been interned there. The camp was actually called Anchiano camp after the nearby village since the present industrial estate of Socciglia didn’t exist then.
Anchiano camp occupied the area now filled by industrial units including my scooter mechanic’s one. At its height over eight hundred men were imprisoned there. Their choice was simple: either to work for the Todt organisation and help build the Gothic line defences or be transported to forced labour camps and extermination in Germany.
(Anchiano concentration camp is now occupied by the industrial units to the left in this photo)
One Alpino remembered how the prisoners were always missing their vines so one day their wives decided to collect some grapes and put them in a big basket. As a twelve year-old he carried the basket to the fence surrounding the camp and was just about to get it through to the men inside when a German guard appeared from behind angrily shouting ‘Heraus!’ ‘I could see his point,’ said the Alpino. ‘After all we might have hidden a gun under all those grapes.’
There was just one woman at the ceremony and the total number of those present was a little over ten. It would have been good if younger generations had been present but the mayor assured me that he’d talked to the local school about the Shoah earlier that morning and was satisfied that the memory of the terrible events which afflicted Italy from 1942 to 1945 would never die but be passed safely intact to a future age.
Never again…..lest we forget.