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RETURN TO THE SMALL TOWN 

By the end of March 1944, the German troops were retreating. By now they were drifters, worn out and tired, and they either sought refuge or ways to cross the border using the same mountains to which the war had pushed us only a few weeks before.

Allied planes would drop leaflets in all districts that announced the victory. The leaflets informed us that evacuees could return to their towns. The war, the terrible, horrible tragedy, was over: we could return home.

We prepared ourselves for the long trip back. We gathered all our riches in baskets and sacks, we said goodbye to the kind family that had welcomed us and had so kindly given us shelter. We had been touched, we had grown fond of them, but we were also anxious to return to our homes, to our beloved Settefrati. It was the beginning of June when we set out on the road towards home. Along the way, we met up with columns of other evacuees that, with sacks on their shoulders, were hurrying back to their homes as well. While still continuing on through mine fields and along streets full of bomb craters, we bumped into a group of people that had a small donkey with them, fully laden with bundles. When she saw me walking, the owner picked me up me and put me in one of the big chests that the donkey had tied to its sides. I was so small that only my head poked out of the chest. The donkey carried me for quite a while. It was wonderful to walk without getting tired.

Every once in a while, we would stop for a short time. Then be on our way again. Along the way, we would meet with others from our town, friends and acquaintances who were also going home, coming from other places where they had been waiting to return home. These meetings were always very emotional; the adults would hug and cry and ask each other thousands of questions.

When we arrived in Settefrati, we could never have imagined the disaster that we found. It was indescribable; houses had been sacked and were deserted, balconies torn off, no windows left in them, roofs and terraces damaged and holes in the walls. They had found and searched even the most secret of hiding places. In the places where the vandalís hand of the soldier couldnít reach, they had used hand grenades to destroy with furious rage. The houses that the Germans had converted into stables and where they had put mules and dogs were full of fleas, lice and garbage and were completely uninhabitable.

Many others had been destroyed or damaged by the bombs and cannon fire. Seventy percent of the town was not fit to live in. We were left with only our eyes to cry, as the saying went.

And so it was.  


DELIA SOCCI SKIDMORE

 NOTA: ultimo racconto della serie:"In guerra in Italia" :la prossima settimana inizia una nuova serie: "la storia di Pietro" 

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