Sassuolo, Monday 02/12/2002, 16,00
I got involved with the Resistance because of the things that happened after so many years of war. To be precise it was 8th September 1943 when the armistice was announced; we were all at the house in Fiorano, it was 8th September and there was a big town fete there in the afternoon, and people put their radios on the windowsills and everyone was happy and we all went out dancing. But the next morning, 9th September, the German and fascist armoured cars entered Sassuolo to occupy the Palazzo°, where there were 2,000 soldiers, and some of them tried to hold out against them, but a lot of the others just ran off because behind the Palazzo there was just open countryside. From then on, a few months after that happened, where the books talk about everything that General Ferrero (who was in charge of the Palazzo) did, two soldiers who tried to put up resistance were killed. Afterwards, around October, November ’43, we started hearing about the first Resistance groups who were preparing to go up into the mountains to fight the nazi-fascists. It was there at the end of ’43, after November, that we heard that there was…, not that it was ever talked about openly at home, because it was dangerous; I wasn’t taken away by the Germans, although I was hauled in a couple of times, but I was reformed so they had to let me go. As for the others, who knows, all the ones they caught got taken to Germany. Then after that first moment, especially after they’d started all those bombings on the Secchia bridge, in the spring of ’44, the line was held by the young men running off to the mountains. There they used to ask us which was the best path to take, and we’d tell them what to do. I remember those two who had escaped from Fossoli, those two English officers- we thought the fascists, the Germans who were on duty on the bridge were going to start raising the alarm. But with these two escapees we crossed the river and went up towards Rio Rocca and then I took them to the castle of San Brambilla, which had already been declared Partisan zone. That was one of the first episodes. Now that I come to think of it, Don Ruini took part as well, that priest from San Michele who lived near us, and his family were farmers; I don’t remember if he was still in training or what, but anyway he did the interpreting. And so the alarm went up and I took these two officers across the Secchia and up the Rio Rocca which comes out at Veggia. Then when the bombings started, us lot who were there near the bridge°°, all the families that lived there started – there were only a few old people, some women and children, because there weren’t any men, they had all run off to the mountains, or they were in the military, or prisoners, and that’s when we really started to get to know the Resistance, then in ’44. […]
From then on we also started hearing about what was going on in the mountains, and that all the peasants were helping those in the Resistance, because they were tired and they thought the war had finished on 8th September, but instead it was worse than before and a lot more dangerous. […]
Then we heard in ’44 when the Republic of Montefiorino was established that, I don’t know how, it was even in the papers, I mean, the leaflets distributed by the anti-fascists said they had sent them packing and they talked about this area of nine comuni which had got rid of fascism had founded the first Partisan republic in Italy, and it was that sort of thing which made us feel closer to the Resistance.
° The Palazzo Ducale of Sassuolo
°° The district known as Borgo Venezia lies to the east of the Secchia river