BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

BBC Homepage
BBC History
WW2 People's War Homepage Archive List Timeline About This Site

Contact Us

To Die for Mussolini -Part 1

by Carlo A. Amaini

Contributed by 
Carlo A. Amaini
People in story: 
Carlo A. Amaini
Article ID: 
A3869292
Contributed on: 
07 April 2005

I wrote a book for my children but it is too long to write it here (159 pages), if you read it you may cry or even laugh.....this is the synopsis

This book has been written by Carlo A., it is the story of himself and his family, a normal Italian family like many others that can be found in many parts of the world, but who is Carlo? Nobody exceptional, he was born in 1928 in Italy and lives now in England with his wife, his three married daughters and their children. He has written this book in memory of his brother killed during a bombardment on Bologna in 1943 and wanted his children and grand children to know what happened in Italy when Mussolini took over the country and what followed afterwards..
What is written here is an account in many details of very nice and not so very nice events which occurred to him in his whole life up to this day. The events written in the following pages are not just ups and downs which happen in the course of a normal life, it is a revelation of an Italian since his infancy, the fun he had with his friends, of a school boy who went to school under the Fascist Regime in its heydays, of the pain of a teenager who lived through WW2 and under Germans occupation after 1943, of a man and his struggle to go on with his life and of an old man at the end of his long struggle. He is now 75 and very happy.
Book to follow it you are interested, Carlo A.

To Die For Mussolini
by Carlo BA—HC-ITB
January 2004 MMIV AD

This book has been written by Carlo, it is the story of himself and his family, a normal Italian family like many others that can be found in many parts of the world, but who is Carlo? Nobody exceptional, he was born in 1928 in Italy and lives now in England with his wife, his three married daughters and their children. He has written this book in memory of his brother killed during a bombardment on Bologna in 1943 and wanted his children and grand children to know what happened in Italy when Mussolini took over the country and what followed afterwards..
What is written here is an account in many details of very nice and not so very nice events which occurred to him in his whole life up to this day. The events written in the following pages are not just ups and downs which happen in the course of a normal life, it is a revelation of an Italian since his infancy, the fun he had with his friends, of a school boy who went to school under the Fascist Regime in its heydays, of the pain of a teenager who lived through WW2 and under Germans occupation after 1943, of a man and his struggle to go on with his life and of an old man at the end of his long struggle. He is now 75 and very happy.
Content

Preface..............................................................................................................Page iii-iv
Chapter 1 .............The 10th of December..........................................................Page 1
Chapter 2.............Like a Dream.......................................................................Page 3
Chapter 3..............Childhood............................................................................Page 7
Chapter 4 ............Life in the Country................................................................Page 12
Chapter 5..............A Home of Our Own............................................................Page 22
Chapter 6.............Living under a Dictatorship....................................................Page 33
Chapter 7 ...........A Very Humble Dwelling .......................................................Page 39
Chapter 8 ...........The Adventurous Kids............................................................Page 46
Chapter 9 ...........Back to School.......................................................................Page 51
Chapter 10............What the Bell Boy Saw.........................................................Page 55
Chapter 11 .........The Day I will Never Forget....................................................Page 66
Chapter 12 ........Away From It All......................................................................Page 72
Chapter 13 ........A New Dawn............................................................................Page 84
Chapter 14 .........Return to Italy.........................................................................Page 97
Chapter 15 ........Back to England.......................................................................Page 108
Chapter 16.........Going North..............................................................................Page 115
Chapter 17........The Reality.................................................................................Page 125
Chapter 18........The Great World War The Advent of Fascism and Nazism..................Page 130
Chapter 19 ........The Second World War, A Lost Generation...................................Page 138
Chapter 20 ........The Smell of Death....................................................................Page 143
Chapter 21........Power Corrupts, Absolute Power Corrupt Absolutely.................Page 147
Acknowledgment ................................................................................................Page 153
The End...............................................................................................................Page 154
76 770 Words 159 PAGES PREFACE

......through the mind of a very young child.... through the mind of a young man and his agony to have lost his dear older brother, and through the mind of a teenager before, during and after World War Two and up to these days........

I pledged to myself to write this book for one reason only and that is to dedicate it to my brother who perished during the Second World War in the first air raid on Bologna, Italy on the morning of the 23rd of July 1943 at ten o’clock, also to my cousin and his friend arrested by the Fascists and shot by the Germans in March 1945 before their retreat from the stagnating front line south of Bologna, they were accused of evading the call-up to join the army in 1943 of the puppet Fascist government. They died for Mussolini, and for what?
I had to tell the world about what life meant under the Fascist Regime and under the German occupation after 1943, also the recollections of the many aspects of my early life in Italy with my brother, my school days under a dictator before World War II and the distress suffered during that war and the few years that followed.
I had a heart attack in December 2003 and while in hospital many aspects of my life sprung to my mind as flash-backs, moments almost forgotten and lost in time came all back to me and, despite my old age, I have been able to recollect many events occurred long time ago without any effort and that really mystifies me but, as my doctor pointed out, some people remember even the day when they were baptised, I think that is the limit memory can go back to but it all depends when they were baptised of course.
My mind started to drift slowly into distant places, places covered with the dust of time and stored in remote corners of the memory bringing to life forgotten people and events. I am sure the flash-backs came about because I experienced an unexpected brush with death. It was strange, I echoed the words of a friend of mine telling me that before we die we go through the events of our lives in a flash. I didn’t die then and I have no intention of going yet but who knows, nevertheless that’s what happened to me, I presume I was reckoning with my past life but I wonder how my friend knew such a thing, I never believed him anyway.
This is not an autobiography but a résumé of everyday life of an Italian family in Italy before World War Two and thereafter in England. The written account of events occurred during my life are based from what I clearly remember, also from what my parents told me and confirmed later on, but I can strongly affirm that I didn’t leave anything to the imagination.
In these pages you’ll read many aspects of my early life, how the Italian children played the same games as the other children everywhere else in the other parts of the world, their mischiefs and escapades, what kind of food we ate and didn’t eat during the war because of the rations and the uncommon experiences a young bellboy working in a luxury hotel, but it is not what the butler saw through the keyholes but what I saw and most of all, how a pregnant femme-fatal with an irresistible charm and fascination took the innocence away from an adolescent and inexperienced boy.
I also added at the end a short summary on the ascent of Fascism and Nazism after the First Great World War of 1914-1918 and a recapitulation of the Second World War,1939-1945. In here it is explained the circumstances in which such events caused the change of history resulting in sacrifice and death of millions of people, an entire young generation disappeared because of Mussolini and Hitler, that was the lost generation that never was. I lived under a dictator before and during the Second World War, I personally witnessed horrible events committed by the Nazi and Fascist Regimes and what I write here is what I experienced then. You’ll find the complete story in the following pages.
Chapter 1

The 10th of December 2003

“Tell me the degree between 1 and 10 of the pain you are experiencing”. I remember the voice of the doctor asking me how strong the pain was.
“Between 8 and 10" “and it is unbearable... I replied.... Please doctor, tell me the truth, am I going to die, why do I feel such a big pain?” I asked.
“You had a severe heart attack and no, you are not going to die, you’ll be all right and I am telling you the truth as I always said that many times before in the course of your visits at the surgery, I am telling the truth and now your wife is on the way home, you’ll go to the hospital where you’ll be cared for” said the doctor.
My wife arrived after a few minutes and came to see me before I was taken to the hospital, she was stunned to see me in that condition, she held my hands and embraced me but she was not allowed to come to the hospital with me. When the ambulance left my house I was lying down and my mind was visualizing my wife and my house,“ good bye darling, good bye house” I said to myself. I was crying, I was thinking of my wife Joan, I wanted her to hold my hand for the last time because I was really convinced I was going to die but she wasn’t there. I was thinking of all the things left unfinished and why I suffered such a severe heart attack, I was traumatized by the event and kept asking myself, why, why?
I was now on a bed surrounded by two nurses and a doctor at the Coronary Care Unit of the Chorley Hospital, the room where I was seemed like a kind of an action-packed-centre ready to go into action any time at a short notice. I could see an unfamiliar looking big syringe in the hand of the doctor pointing at me, he looked determinated to do what he was going to do to me, his voice sounded like an ultimatum:
“We are going to inject you with a drug to dissolve the clot in the artery of your heart, this injection could either cause a haemorrhage or provoke a stroke but we don’t know, we need your permission to act right now before we can proceed”
“An haemorrhage, where?” I asked.
“We don’t know”the doctor replied impatiently.
“All right, proceed then, I am half dead already anyway” I answered.
I felt a strange feeling and considered myself gone because the pain was extremely bad and never thought I could be saved, I only want to finish the whole affair as quick as possible. The injection made me feel much better straight away, I did not get a haemorrhage nor a stroke, the clot was gone and that restored the flow of blood to my heart bringing oxygen to it, I was out of danger. Lynne, the sister in charge that day, told me that I was lucky because I was saved by a new clot-busting drug and that it had been on the market only for a short period, she added that if it would have happened some months before then it would have been a story with a different end, and then she kissed me on my forehead. I was alive. Yes, I really felt better then, I knew I was in good hands. A few months later I learned that the drug that saved me was very expensive, over £ 500. Later in the evening everything came back to me, I remember when the ambulance arrived, I was put on a metal chair and taken downstairs to the ambulance, it was a bit rough to the point that I banged my back on a metal rod of a kind and that caused a black protuberance to appear on my back, I did not know at the time but after the nurse asked me how I managed to get it. The pain in my chest was too strong to notice it then.
I was lying down on the hospital bed with my wife at my side now, her touch and reassurance were of extreme comfort to me but I felt disorientated and incredulous of what happened, the pain disappeared but I felt sick, “don’t worry love, it is normal to feel like that after such an ordeal, you must rest now and we will look after you”, said sister Lynne at my side.
The nursing staff and doctors treated me with the upmost care and attentiveness, I was safe in their hands, their devoted attention was much appreciated, they saved my life. I was lying in a hospital bed and couldn’t sleep, may be I was feeling sorry for myself, I don’t really know. During the next days I was thinking often on how short life can be, I was also realising the fact that all of a sudden I’d reached the end of a journey that started many years before, thinking on how quick old age caught up with me. I was feeling very weak and lost and felt to cry all the time thinking that my time was up. I was still incredulous of what happened because just a few months earlier I was recovered in hospital after it was found I had a blood clot in each lung and for that reason I was put on a course of Warfarin for life, unfortunately that anti-clotting agent did not work for me, it did not work because I was a subject highly prone to thrombosis. When I left the hospital I was put on Sinthrome, a much more powerful blood anticoagulant.
I was still alive and felt relaxed, I went to sleep with the thought of having my wife waiting for me at home. I was back to my sweet home after 12 days and soon it was my birthday.
Chapter 2
Like in a Dream

During my stay in hospital I went through my past, I could clearly recall episodes almost forgotten, my life was consistently coming back reminding me of many phases of my early days in this world, perhaps it was the consequence of the fright caused by the heart attack, after all I experienced a brush with death and did not know if I was going to be all right after that.
I remember, yes, I do remember very well far back when I was very small, my parents used to call me “Cicci” and continued to call me with that name up to the time I got married. I did not like to be called “Cicci” because it might have given the people the wrong idea about me but even now after such a long time my sister calls me just that when she rings me on the telephone. I suppose old habits become weaker but don’t die.
I might have been just over a year old, my father was an officer in the Customs and Excise and was posted in Milan, it was when my uncle and auntie were having animated discussions about the problems of living together; they followed my mother and father to Milan because there the opportunity to find work was much better than in Bologna, Milan and Turin were much more industrialised than many other Italian cities at that time.
Later in life my mother told me that the quarrels she was having with my father regarding her sister and her husband were the order of the day, it was supposed to shelter them for only a couple of months and not much longer. Now I laugh when I think of my father telling me that guests in a house are like fish, they smell after a while.
I remember so well being in a big room wearing a long white night dress playing with a small metal trumpet with a white porcelain mouthpiece while the arguments were going on, even now it is so clear in my mind it was when I was hiding under a bed from where I could see their legs and shoes, it was one of those big high beds in use at that time.
My wife doesn’t understand how I can remember facts that happened when I was about one or two years old, sometimes I am asking that question myself, how is it possible to remember so many details at such an early age, the fact is that I do. The more I think about it and the more I am convinced that it is possible because it is happening to me, I must have a good memory if I can remember those old events and may be that’s why I speak six European languages.

Continue in To Die For Mussolini see part 2 of 5

© Copyright of content contributed to this Archive rests with the author. Find out how you can use this.

Archive List

This story has been placed in the following categories.

Books Category
Postwar Years Category
Italy Category
icon for Story with photoStory with photo

Most of the content on this site is created by our users, who are members of the public. The views expressed are theirs and unless specifically stated are not those of the BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of any external sites referenced. In the event that you consider anything on this page to be in breach of the site's House Rules, please click here. For any other comments, please Contact Us.



About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy