A blog from World War 2

September 23, 1943

Casale di Carinola

German soldiers with machine guns are positioned on all the streets of Casale. At around 8:00, a loudspeaker announces that all the townsmen must meet in the main square for a German official’s speech. Upon arriving in the square, we realize that we are surrounded on all sides. Our ID cards are collected and we are given an hour to go home and pack some things. We are told we’ll be taken away to work for two or three days. We are warned that if we don’t return, reprisals will be taken against our families. I suspect they’ll be taking us to Germany but out of fear of reprisal against my wife, my two children, and my father, I return to the square. After an hour we all re-gather in the square. They load us into trucks and drive up to the mountains near Massico. We sleep outdoors that night, encircled by German soldiers.

September 24, 1943

They load us into trucks again and we are taken to the Sparanise train station. Here, they load us into cattle cars. There are men from Casale, Carinola, San Donato, San Ruosi, and Ventaroli. They close the doors and there is no way out. We depart that same night. We are covered in sweat and can barely breathe. The night goes by like this. We stop at a station and they let us out to relieve ourselves, but we’re only allowed to do so on the tracks surrounded by Germans armed with rifles and machine guns.

September 26, 1943

We’re at the Verona train station. I tried to escape. I stepped out on the opposite side of the tracks and tried to climb into a freight train that was at the station. I heard a shout behind me and saw a German with his rifle pointed straight at me. I immediately stepped back into the cattle car. 

We’ve arrived in Dachau, a concentration camp. We slept on wood planks.

September 30, 1943

We’ve arrived in Munich. It’s night, they take us to a grand hotel. Here, we exchanged some of our Italian money for German Marks. We bought some beer. At night we had to sleep on wood planks on the stage of a theater.
We were taken to the employment office. People come to collect us as if we were objects. They call out our names and take the men with them, some take 20 men, some take 30 men, some take 10. They call out the names of Oreste Maina and Donato Russo from San Donato. The man is a wholesale produce merchant. That night we’re taken to a dormitory where over 500 men are lodged. While sleeping, the siren goes off. The siren hollers, it frightens us, we are led to the basement. When the siren stops, we go back up to the quarters. The windows are all broken and glass is scattered on the beds and the floor. The wall plaster has crumbled and there are cracks in the walls. On nearby streets, the firemen are working all night, making deafening noises.

October 1, 1943

Donato Russo and I went to work today.  We unload apples, cucumbers, and vegetables from Italian freight cars. At night, we go back to our dormitory. The only thing we eat here is “suppe”: warm water with wheat bran and not a bit of seasoning. At 20:00 we must take an obligatory shower, and at 20:30 everyone must go to sleep. Every morning we go to the same place. We walk three kilometers through the city to reach the loading platform. We loads trucks with cases of apples and take them to the place where the boss has his office and from where he sells produce to organizations, restaurants, and whatnot with proper ration cards. At midday we have lunch at a restaurant: suppe and kartoffel.  At night, they accompany us to the dormitory.

October 20, 1943

I’ve started to learn my way around, so they no longer accompany us. I’ve begun making friends with the shopkeepers located along the road from the dormitory to the warehouse we work in. I secretly take a bag of apples or onions from the warehouse or the freight trains and give them to one shop, then another shop, then a different one. I don’t know anyone here, I don’t know where my brothers of misfortune are so I give these things to the shopkeepers. In return they give me bread and other items.

November 8, 1943

As I leave the restaurant where I was eating, I run into some Carabinieri (translator’s note: Italian military police) in uniform. They are cleaning the city streets with carts, pushing them by hand like donkeys. They told me they were captured in Rome. I set a meeting time with them for the next day and give them a bag of apples. They give me a chunk of cheese they brought from Italy. I felt pity for them even if I’m more distraught than they are.

November 15, 1943

I went to the black market today. I ran into Silvio Grassini from Roccamonfina. I produced sulfured cherries for him from 1938 to 1943.  I bought a coat from him.  The first snow has already fallen.

November 20, 1943

Today I found other men from Carinola and San Donato. They gave me their address: Lager B.M.W., seven kilometers outside of Munich.

November 22, 1943

I bought an 8 kg jar of honey from a German. I took it Lager B.M.W. and sold it to Guido Garofalo and Ermelindo Cirelli, I made 15 Marks. They resell it in smaller jars to the Dutch who are in the same Lager. I continue to go to the black market, located in the center of Munich where Donato Russo and I live. I buy ration cards for bread, cigarettes, and whatnot and resell them. I make good money and with this I’m able to buy what I need to clothe and nourish myself.

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