• WORKS | Are you ready for the country?


    Are You Ready For The Country?

    Slippin’ and a-slidin’
    And playin’ domino
    Leftin’ and then rightin’
    It’s not a crime, you know
    You got to tell your story, boy
    Before it’s time to go

    Are you ready for the country
    Because it’s time to go
    Are you ready for the country
    Because it’s time to go

    I was talkin’ to the preacher
    Said God was on my side
    Then I ran into the hangman
    He said it’s time to die
    You gotta tell your story, boy
    You know the reason why

    Are you ready for the country
    Because it’s time to go
    Are you ready for the country
    Because it’s time to go

  • Are You Ready For The Country?

    Easter and April 25th, Liberation Day, brought the same gift. Both were days off from school and, therefore, holidays. I was about 10 years old when I began to notice a difference between the two celebrations, probably because the dates were so close. Eastertime in church, Easter Sunday, everybody dressed fancy, big smiles, everybody happy… the luncheon, the chocolate…Nice.

    Not on April 25th. It didn’t seem like a holiday. It was something tremendously serious. The feeling in the air caused me to think a lot. The tight faces, the dark eyes, the flags, the silence, the red bandanas, the marching band. I didn’t understand. I didn’t understand why things that happened so long ago could still generate so much tension. I didn’t understand that those people who seemed old to me were really only fifty-year-olds and that those fifty-year-olds were there thirty years ago, in the middle of a fury that seemed very far off in time compared to me and everything around me.

    “Do not cry, Remember us.” There are 479 monuments dedicated to World War Two and the Resistance throughout the province of Reggio Emilia. These 479 monuments are scattered throughout an area of less than 2,300 square kilometres. One for every five. “What do you think you can add to the partisan story with regards to what has already been said and written?”, I was asked when I was putting this project together. Nothing. I am aware that there is nothing to add to the thousands of personal stories, stories of tragedies, oppression, but also stories of redemption and great altruism.

    My work is to be a celebration, a gesture of recognition towards thousands of people who, at a certain point, found themselves having to, or often obliged to, make a choice. A choice that would be crucial. A choice that, after over 70 years, has given us a Europe that has never known such a long period of peace. During the preparation of my Pantheon of common heroes, I was intrigued by two things: the modernness of their faces and the sense of suspended time that I felt in the places where they died.

    Of course, it is impossible to not consider the fundamental contribution made by thousands of other men and women from every corner of the planet. Americans, British, Russians. As well as, Canadians, South Africans, New Zealanders, Australians, Moroccans, Pakistanis and Indians. To whom we owe thanks even now for their sacrifice in the name of the ideals of freedom and justice. Ideals that, unfortunately, in many places only exist on paper and in others not even that.

    I don’t have or want an ideological vision (I am a devotee of Pierpaolo Pasolini, who declared the end of ideologies back in 1965). However, the number and diversity of the dead shows that, at a certain point, it was no longer possible to not act, it was not enough to not be a partisan. People died indiscriminately anyway due to a ferocity that was as blind as it was useless. In my secular pilgrimage, when I found myself face-to-face with these young, and often very young, people, I asked myself, “They demonstrated their readiness. And you? Are you ready for the country?”

    Raffaello De Vito

  • “They hung me out of anger, at the school in Fosdondo. They believed that we were nothing more than two morons, eh? Chickenshits that drop their pants at the first ‘Halt’. Like hell I’m doing what you say. The hell with you and your ‘halt’. I slaughtered two of yours and my comrade managed to get away. I died well.

    Anyway, I knew it would’ve been hard to run off with the machine guns from that plane that went down in Ronchi. But we had to try. My comrade Celeste really had guts, I asked him to come. But I didn’t want him to die because of me… When the car appeared, it was obvious that the two of us, who were on bicycles, were not getting away. They wanted to search us. I wasn’t going to let fascists put their hands on me again, ever, I had already seen their jails…

    Whoever shoots first, shoots best, that is what I learnt. I showed them what a partisan was really made of. My battle name was Giuseppe, saint of cuckolds, GAP [Partisan Assault Group] commander, 37th brigade, second battalion. They can hang me when I’m dead, I’m not the only one who will end up like that. As history teaches.”

    Gisberto Vecchi / 1 July 1944 / Fosdondo

  • “‘Move it, you good for nothings!’, that’s what they said to us. To us, who were just working on a canal and only one of us was actually a partisan. They didn’t even know. They didn’t even ask—We’re just working here, you murdering, thieving dog! Do you go deaf in the Black Brigade?!—Worse than walking in the dark! They were the ugly horde…

    They put us on a truck and drove off. They were angry to the core, that’s what they were. ‘Viva the Republic!’, they yelled. They wanted revenge for their own men, that’s all… They had lost four at Ponte Nuovo. ‘Beasts!’, they called us. ‘You bloody cowards!’, and then they beat us. ‘Traitors!’, and more beating. Then they stopped the truck. They threw us off. They kicked us into a line. ‘Viva Italy!’, I called out but I was the only one.

    You can’t, you can’t, you can’t. Voices lost on the wind. They shot us in the back. And do you know why? Oh, go on, it’s simple… Because it was too hard to look us in the eyes.”

    The Fallen of San Prospero / 1 December 1944 

  • “That very evening, at the meeting, they made me secretary. Y’know what I mean? For someone like me, who’d lived twenty years working against them, that was more than an honour. It was a joy to say… Well, all of those years weren’t in vain, because at times I felt like putting a pillow over my head and saying that’s enough. I don’t want to hear, I don’t want to see, It’s too hard to carry on this way.

    It looked like that was going to be the last winter. A rumour was spreading, I could taste hope in my mouth. Because a dream costs nothing, but it falls upon you like a lie if it doesn’t come true. So, I hung on tightly to the satisfaction. Provincial Secretary of the PCI [Italian Communist Party]. Oh, it’s a really big thing… I wanted to tell my brother so much, I had to go by his place. But Aldaciso had already been beaten to a pulp and waiting for me was the wrong Republic. I tried to run away across the fields, but on the plains, you can’t get very far. And there was a lot of snow. I was stuck in it up to my knees. The perfect target. The fascists had fun aiming for the centre of my head. I didn’t even have time to swear, I was already dead cold. And to die on that very day… Well, I mean, I had imagined the death of a commander to be different. Really different. Goddamnit… They’re right when they say that we’re all the same when we die.”

    Vittorio (Toti) Saltini / 25 January 1945 / Fosdondo

  • “When I saw that they wanted to bury him in the manure heap, well, I was blind with rage. They’d already reduced my brother Adalciso to tatters. Then they set their eyes on Silvana, my niece, seventeen years old and you can imagine what a flower she was… They spit such horrible insults in her face it could have made the snow turn red. Then a pain exploded inside me, right in the middle of my chest, I had to scream out loud that they couldn’t do something so disgusting to Toti—’I hope you drop dead, you ugly cowardly cockroach, you lowlife thug’—after twenty years of silence, my tongue let loose like shrapnel. It didn’t even seem like it was me talking. It was as if … as if…. who knows what it was. I only know that I couldn’t stop myself, so they did. With two bullets in my chest. Then the snow really turned red… That’s what I was thinking about. Strange, eh? When you die, certain things come to mind…”

    Vandina Saltini / 25 January 1945 / Fosdondo

  • “When burying the dead, we risked ending up the same way… We certainly couldn’t leave them out in the open, could we? In the area around Carpi, it was dangerous for us to be out in the open… so we went as far as Budrio, to the cemetery, and came face-to-face with the same fate. In those days, round-ups were the usual thing. A sign that the front was getting closer and the Wehrmacht were nervous… They took us and another sixty people hostages. But the Wehrmacht was only pretending to negotiate; they had already chosen their reprisal.

    ‘Whoever buries a partisan, buries a bandit.’ That’s what they told us. Or perhaps they took us because we were out there. We believed they wanted an exchange… For two of theirs, two officers that had been captured and killed in San Biagio. So, as a deterrent, they massacred the four of us. The negations stalled. I challenge anyone to prove that their two were any more alive. But they couldn’t have known… They took us to Ponte Nuovo to put pressure on our people. Some way to be treated… a barrage and then gone. That’s how you end up a prisoner on the wrong day. That’s how you end up when you’re on the spot. That’s how you end up when only a rifle opens its mouth.”

    Ettore Giovanardi / 13 or 16 March 1945 / Ponte Nuovo

  • “Do you have any idea what a battle is? I’ll tell you. You don’t understand much when you’re in it. People are screaming, yelling, escaping, running, hiding and then shooting. I was in that mess, when I heard my name being called—’Carburo!’—and I said to myself, ‘if they know me, I can step out’. A group arrived and I had no idea who they were. I found out very quickly. They waited until I got close to them, really close, so they couldn’t miss. They killed me right there and then. Those damn cowards.”

    Paride Carminati alias ‘Carburo’ / 15 May 1945 / Fosdondo

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