A blog from World War 2

Still Sunday January 7, 1945

At 7:00 at night, Agostino, Ciccillo, and I went to an eatery in my neighborhood to have them cook up the veal liver and macaroni I purchased yesterday. After eating, we talked a bit about Casale and our ill-fated families, pleading for the end of this inexorable war which is destroying everything! 20 minutes after Agostino and Ciccillo left, I was still in the room where we ate with some other friends; we suddenly hear the siren go off. We decide to go to a nearby shelter. I’m with Vincenzo Liberti from Carinola, Andrea Castoldo from Afragola, and Vincenzo Camerota from Minturno. Out of the four of us, I’m the only one who brings a suitcase with some necessities, after all my belongings went up in flames on April 25th 1944, I try to be cautious when I can. We get to the shelter and 15 minutes later we hear shooting. The doors tremble, bombs must have fallen nearby. Suddenly, a loud explosion rattled us, some people scream out of fear, the shelter sways, we all fear a bomb has fallen on us, there’s a moment of communal terror, but then we realize we’re safe! Once the shooting stops, the warning siren goes off. Those who want to go outside, can. They’re given permission to leave but are told there’s danger of unexploded bombs which could explode at any moment. Some people start to leave but when they reach the last doorway, they turn around and come back in, while others leave and don’t return. The four of us don’t know what to do, the three of them want to leave immediately but I suggest we remain in the shelter since there are many other people still here. I can’t blame them because all of their belongings are at home and they risk losing everything like I did on April 25, 1944, but I tell them, and they agree, that their safety is more important… not for us as much as for our children who truly need their dear parents! Once everyone starts to leave, we do too. Once outside, we see enormous flames everywhere. The house above our shelter stands alone, luckily it was the only one that wasn’t hit. We’re start heading home and look in the direction of our house, we see no signs of fire and we say: We got lucky this time too.

We’re about 50 meters from our home when the siren goes off again. We turn around and race back to the shelter for the second time. After 10 minutes, all hell has broken loose! It’s raining bombs in our vicinity, or so it seems. There are constant blasts, one after another, continuously. We feel the ground rise beneath us then the bombs explode with such a painful noise that I have to plug my ears. This has never happened to me before in Germany, I’ve never heard such noise from bombs, there seems to be no end to it. We’re all squatting on the ground, we all fear our time is up and that our miserable existence is about to end, then finally, after 30 minutes of constant terror, it stops. It was a close call, but the good Lord saved us this time too. At around 11:00, we leave the shelter. Despite the fact that it’s the dead of night, it’s as bright outside as if it were noon. Once outside we notice the building above our shelter is in flames, which the firemen are trying to extinguish. We start heading home. The men from Carinola and Afragola, upon seeing flames everywhere, decide to race back to make sure their belongings aren’t in flames. The man from Minturno and I walk back calmly. The roads are littered with rubble, branches, and trees which were strewn everywhere. Before turning onto the street that leads to our home, Kirchenstrasse #6, I said to him: I have a feeling that bright light is our home in flames. As soon as we turned onto Kirchenstrasse, we see our home in flames. This man from Minturno didn’t bring anything with him so he races ahead to save his belongings. Once I arrive, I call out to them, they are all inside, the three of them live on the ground floor which hasn’t been touched by the flames so their belongings are safe, but everything is strewn on the floor, the wardrobes, the windows, everything shattered by the blasts. I live on the second floor which is already in flames by the time I arrive; I run up and manage to save a few things, but not everything. My room is in flames so I have no choice but to let the fire take its course. The nuns and all of us: Italians, Dutch, French, and men of other nationalities, race to transport mattresses and other items from the unscathed rooms which risk catching fire. Later, the firemen arrive and start extinguishing the flames. They spend most of the night dousing the place with water but they cannot put the fire out. At around 3:00 at night, with our help, the nuns set up a dormitory on the ground floor, which was barely damaged, we place the mattresses on the floor and we all rest there together. 

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