A blog from World War 2

January 6, 1944

Yesterday I went to the Lager where the men from Carinola, San Donato, and environs live. I brought them another jar of honey, which they re-sell to the Dutch, who were also deported by the Germans like us. The Dutch are very nice people.

January 10, 1944

Last night while we were sleeping, the siren woke us up. We ran to the dormitory’s basement, after an hour we were able to go back up into the dormitory. There is no damage inside, but outside we can hear the excavators digging amidst rubble and corpses, and firemen trying to put out fires. I’m tired of this miserable existence, I hope it ends soon or they destroy everything so it’ll be over for us all.

January 18, 1944

Today I went to Lager Fasanerie-Nord where I see Agostino, Ciccillo, Traglia, and Mario Tutone, the Neapolitan evacuee whose wife and family live in Casale. Mario is an intelligent and good man, he proposes we try to escape but I tell him it’s not time yet. I spend the day with them and return to Munich at night by train, I don’t know where the other men from Casale are.

January 24, 1944

I’ve returned from work and feel ill, very ill. At 20:00 it’s time for the obligatory shower, but I cannot even move so I stay put. Everyone goes into the dining hall after taking their showers and they eat the usual suppe, but I don’t touch it. My head is burning up, we go to the barracks to sleep. While I’m struggling to get undressed, a barrack guard comes in and touches my hair, he notices it is not wet and I haven’t taken a shower. He yells and orders me, like a true and tried German, to get dressed. I make him understand that I have a fever, but he couldn’t care less, he throws me out in the streets. It’s about 21:00 and it’s freezing outside. Nearby is a Gasthaus where I sometimes go to have a beer. I go there and see a Spanish man who recognizes me, I tell him what happened and ask him to ask the owner if I can take refuge there for the night, even on a chair. The owner says it is out of the question. I leave and head toward the train station. I was lucky because I caught the last train for Lager B.M.W. I get on the tram and go to the barracks where my friends from San Donato live. It’s pitch black out, they barely recognize me by my voice because it has changed… I can hardly speak. They let me sleep in a cot that belongs to a man who works the nightshift.

January 27, 1944

The Lager guard comes in and says that if I don’t leave he will call the police. Agostino speaks (or rather has someone speak) to our boss Rockinger about my situation. He says he couldn’t care less. So I have to leave the Lager and go back to Munich. I take the tram to the Italian Consulate. No one accompanies me, I can barely stand up. They give me a slip of paper and send me to the Italian Delegation. After asking around and taking various trams, I manage to finally find the Italian Delegation. Here, they give me some paperwork and directions on how to reach the hospital by tram. By afternoon, I’ve finally reached the hospital. My hands are black, I haven’t washed up or eaten in four days. As soon as I arrive they wrap me in a wet sheet. My body was burning up so badly before, I almost wanted to die. After this sort of bath, they give me an injection and I feel my blood flowing through my veins, I feel like I’ve been resuscitated.

They bathed me and I am resting in a clean bed with five other men in my room. At 9:00, the nurse comes and gives all six of us a thermometer, then leaves, and after 10 minutes the nurse returns to collect the thermometer and writes down our temperatures in our files. I’m already feeling better. Since they gave me the injection I feel resuscitated, before that I wanted to die.

January 28, 1944

I’m able to get up, I’m feeling much better.

January 29, 1944

Bombs fell last night, all the patients who aren’t seriously ill walk down to hospital’s basement. The others, myself included, are taken down to the basement on their cots through a trap door in the hallway. After a few hours we are taken back upstairs again. The bombs were dropped further away.

Today, two German ladies came to visit their brother. A French man and I were walking in the hallway, our room is near this German man’s room. We enter his room and on the table we see a guitar and a violin brought by the German ladies. We exchange a few words then I pick up the guitar and position my fingers into the E minor chord, I strum all six strings, much like a piano chord. The two ladies look at each other in amazement for the perfect chord I’ve strummed. One of them picks up the violin and asks me to accompany her, she plays “The Merry Widow” waltz. I’ve played this waltz hundreds of times in Italy so I accompanied her with expertise. The two women are stunned and call in the nuns to introduce me. From this point on, I become the nuns’ favorite. At lunch they always bring me a special meal, they often come visit me and I go visit them. I feel better and better each day.

January 30, 1944

I asked the nuns for a thermometer, I tell them that when the nurse comes in the morning with the thermometers, I don’t have a fever but in the afternoon I do. They immediately give me a thermometer.

January 31, 1944

There’s snow outside and it continues to fall, but it’s warm inside. I want to stay here until this damn war is over. I’ve come up with a plan: with the thermometer the nuns gave me, I go into the bathroom and place it on the radiator until it reaches 39°C then I hide it in my bed. When the nurse comes in the morning, I swap his thermometer with my thermometer, he looks at it, writes down my temperature, and leaves.

The nurse comes in every morning. I give him the thermometer every morning, at times I warm it to 38°C, at times 39°C, I change the temperature each morning so he doesn’t get suspicious. I hope the war ends soon so I don’t have to go back to that damn factory, I was almost on my deathbed and they didn’t even help me reach the hospital.

February 2, 1944

This morning, the nuns came and held Mass in the hospital. They sang the same songs we used to sing with Father Pasquale Ruosi in the church of Casale. I couldn’t hold back the tears. After Mass, I felt tired and had to rest. In the afternoon I felt better.

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