This is the story of a military internship in Bari, Captain Antonio Colaleo, who was deported to the Nazi concentration camps after 8th September 1943: in Biala Podlaska, Poland, and Sandbostel and Wietzendorf, Germany. He shared his captivity with the writer Giovanni Guareschi and the actor Gianrico Tedeschi and there, after having hidden some colored pencils crumbling them in his pockets so that they could escape the controls, he documented the concentration camps with 34 drawings: delicate images of great beauty. The daughter-in-law Antonella Bartolo started from those drawings to reconstruct the history of the imprisonment of Antonio Colaleo retracing his deportation journey, meeting the last witnesses, comparing written and photographic memories, ordering the research of historians, visiting the places of imprisonment after seventy years .
In the book, which is a story but also an accurate historiographic investigation, past and present, facts and testimonies are intertwined. The memories of the protagonist, reported by the author, are tied to the stories of the military prisoners and a new plot of great emotional involvement is obtained.
650 thousand Italian soldiers said No to the Republic of Salò to remain faithful to their homeland: for this reason they were interned in the camps of the third Reich and were forgotten by many. They lived about two years of hunger and cold; died of hardship, disease and violence. Almost 50 thousand never returned home.
In the summer of ’45 repatriation; but after the euphoria the disappointment. Many felt abandoned, welcomed by indifference and suspicion of treason. For this reason the deported soldiers did not tell their stories, they closed themselves in a dignified silence trying only to forget.
Antonio Colaleo returned to his Bari but the city had changed a lot. He resumed his life as a soldier in the Italian Army and his drawings remained closed in a drawer.
The publication of the 34 drawings is now an important contribution for the conservation of documents and for keeping alive the memory of the Italian military internment (Matite sbriciolate, Rubbettino, 18 euros).