THE REBELS OF THE MOUNTAIN


Italy entered the war on June 10, 1940 , after the victory of the Germans against France , with the prospect of a blitzkrieg. However the military unpreparedness of italians leads to some serious setbacks. In 1943, in early July, the Allies landed in Sicily and begin to move up the peninsula. Also in July, fell the fascist regime and Mussolini was deposed as head of government that was entrusted to marshal Badoglio. On 8 September 1943 he signed the armistice with the Anglo-American and Italy out of the war. The king, ignominiously, fleeing for fear of retaliation by Hitler and left the army in disarray; the situation is serious rupture in the Italian consciousness. From this moment, begin to form the first partisan groups on the initiative of anti-fascists and military of the royal army. Initially composed of a few thousand men, they took on consistency with the wide participation of workers, peasants and young draft dodgers of the Republic of Salo that led the army partisan about 300,000 people. The partisan groups gave birth to armed resistance against the Nazi occupation and against the collaborationist fascist and that's why it was at the same time a war of liberation against the foreigner and a civil war. The partisan groups operating in preference away from population centers to take advantage of the mountainous nature of the country, launching sudden attacks to enemy units or structures of military interest. The German reprisals were ferocious: massacred hundreds of civilians in many Italian cities. In the spring of 1945, the Anglo American troops, aided by Italian volunteers, broke through the Gothic Line that developed from La Spezia to Rimini along the Apennines spreading in the Po Valley. On April 25, the Italian resistance triggered the national uprising against the German occupation. April 25 is celebrated in Italy as a day of liberation.


© Lorenzo Papi from the series 'I ribelli della montagna'


“I was very young I was 15 years old, we were in the evening at the Germans camp, some of us distracted them by selling them photographs of Italian actresses, others of us were doing sabotage, throwing sand inside the German truck tanks. After a while there was the spy and I became a wanted, one night I ran away, spent the night in a barn. I went to Don Mario a pastor who had contacts with the partisan teams. We were sleeping on the dry leaves of beech, eating the hedgehogs and listening to the radio. I was too young for the actions but I was quick and smart: I became a relay, I delivered messages from one brigade to another. The messages were written on a very light paper similar to the one used for cigarettes, easy to ingest if we were discovered; The order was this.”

© Lorenzo Papi from the series 'I ribelli della montagna'

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© Lorenzo Papi from the series 'I ribelli della montagna'


When the postcard arrived to enlist, I refused and ran off the road to the mountains, I joined to the partisan brigade. I cooked for them and participated in various actions, the winter was stiff and the snow was abundant. In the spring I was captured by the Germans, the night with my companion we escaped from that collegetha was improvised to a prison, we crossed the barbed wire fence and ran into the woods at the slopes of the mountain while the dogs were chasing us. We are hiding in a ditch full of mud and water roaming through the trenches, we went to that place with water to the throat for a whole day.

© Lorenzo Papi from the series 'I ribelli della montagna'

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© Lorenzo Papi from the series 'I ribelli della montagna'


With the experience of the war, I got to know the limits and faults of the fascist regime. My ideals of freedom and democracy brought me to know several captains of brigades, they invited me to take part, but at the beginning I refused. Shortly thereafter, I escaped the life of two American pilots whose plane had been shot down by the Germans, I hosted them in my house for one night, the next day I knew that I was looking for it: someone had spy, the same evening I joined in armed resistance.

© Lorenzo Papi from the series 'I ribelli della montagna'

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© Lorenzo Papi from the series 'I ribelli della montagna'

 

We left with a friend of mine for the mountain and we joined the brigade, during the long and cold winter there were many clashes with the Germans: it seemed to be in hell. I remember that during a clash we were scattered in the bush, to save us from the German miter, we fell into a ravine, my friend fainted by the blow, but I managed to save his life by dragging him with heavy snow to his thighs; We repaired under a shrub. One morning we had to go and recover a throw on a plain about twenty miles from where we were; The team split up I stayed in the camp together with most of us, others including my friend were sent to that plain. he greeted me with a face that I had never seen, was the look of a person who already knew he was to die. During the march there was a German ambush, no one returned. I will never forget his eyes.

© Lorenzo Papi from the series 'I ribelli della montagna'

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LORENZO PAPI
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