Aristide and the twenty years
curated by Francesco Deplanu
Aristide Guardabassi, the first on the left in the photo was born in 1912, became an adult during the Fascist period. After the military started in 1931, participated in the "Ethiopian enterprise" from 1935 to '36, the era of the "great consensus", then he was recalled in 1941 in the military battalions of the "shirts." black " and died in 1942 at the "mouths of Cattaro" together with a commissioner, Massetti, from Città di Castello affected from "friendly" batteries.
The remains of his body were tracked down by the Maggior Suppa of the Italian army only after twenty years and brought back to a now democratic and pacified Umbertide. His funeral, in a very cold March 1960, with the banner of the Municipality in front, climbed on foot to the cemetery with all the citizens in tow, after having crossed a plain that still showed the promiscuous culture of the vine, the last landscape of an ancient world.
He had reached the "sixth" elementary and so on long years of military service and then as a "black shirt", volunteer for the AOI and recalled for the Second World War, he had a very long correspondence with his wife, Olinda Guardabassi. Linda, as she was called, responded less to difficulties between work as a "tobacconist" and other jobs to be able to live and raise the little daughter; moreover, like many girls before the war, he was prevented from finishing elementary school because he was "a woman". After the second class, in fact, it had been held home to provide for family needs ... his writing was therefore more tiring.
In addition to many documents of the time among the many letters left, where they are substantially absent i references to the "enemy" e to war, there are affections, memories and common life as in an "escape" from a present that is difficult to live and tell.
Linda kept everything she had left in her wooden barber box: her compass and sewing supplies, letters, postcards, some documents, the metal plate found with the remains of her body, the newspaper with the 'announcement of death and some letters from friends to alleviate his loss.
The barber's box contained about 300 letters, 144 postcards, filled for almost all the space available, and some telegrams written in the decade 1932-42. Almost all the letters are by Aristide some by Linda. The letters are concentrated above all in the second year of the war, as many as 110 letters, when he was recalled and left for the conflict, and in 1942, third year of the war, 52 letters before dying.
In particular 68 letters were kept during his military service and 10 postcards; between 1934 and 1936, during the African campaign, 66 letters, 1 telegram and 29 postcards remain; 170 letters, 105 postcards and 3 telegrams remain for the period of the World War:
1932 - 4 letters,
1933 - 61 letters from Vercelli, 10 postcards, 4 edelweiss,
1934 - 3 missives,
1935 - 38 missives 1 telegram and 29 postcards,
1936 - 25 letters,
1939 - 2 telegrams and 15 postcards,
1941 - 110 missives 2 post card, 2 telegrams 70 postcards,
1942 - 59 missives 4 postcards 1 telegram 35 postcards and 1 letter from Alberto Burri to his wife Linda after her death.
Interno della cassetta da barbiere
In addition, many personal photos were kept in the box, 30 photos of the funeral that took place in the post-war period in Umbertide, various personal and time documents, "Various materials" including, a compass used in the AOI, a needle holder and wooden thread, a branded cigarette holder with still some cigarettes inside, a small santino di Sant'Antonio kept inside a small bussolotto, the identification plate kept in a green canvas bag with the personal data, the flag with which the small chest with the remains of Aristide was displayed in the Collegiate Church for the funeral about twenty years after his death; Linda after many years used to say that only at that moment, when the remains were brought back in a small box, did she really stop hoping for his return ...
A decade of alternating correspondence for a few years, after the "unlimited leave" from military service, first from the "African enterprise" and then from the outbreak of the conflict. A very long correspondence in which Aristide wrote almost exclusively of love, affection and everyday life; an aspect that goes hand in hand with the historical moments in which he writes, writes from Vercelli and Biella to the compulsory service of the state, writes from the "steamer" that takes him to Africa for the Empire, sends postcards where the propaganda phrases of the "Fascism" as he greets his Lindina, postcards that have as their theme the geographical map of the AOI or busts of beautiful African girls that the regime shows as trophies, he writes more and more often when he is sent to the coasts of Albania and present-day Montenegro . He wrote from Podgorica, from the "very Italian" Boka Kotorska, until his death at the hands of his own army in an Italy that soon will be divided in two, with the central part and its Umbertide that from that moment will live another story: drama and liberation. In addition to the correspondence, the preserved documents tell us about that moment: the cards of the fascist, workers and women's organizations, the lists of members of the Umbertidese militias of the "black shirts", the recall orders for the lack of behavior of these Umbertidesi militiamen on the part of the Perugian nucleus, an internal propaganda theme made to write to the daughter for the return of the father who will never return ... A remarkable material to be investigated at another time because it is too vast.
The affections for the young Linda, first girlfriend then wife and mother of a child seem to be almost the exclusive subject to communicate. Here are some examples as a soldier of Leva in 1933 and then as a husband in '39 and on the day of his death in July '42:
"Biella 04/21/1933 - IX EF ("Fascist year and period" Ed.)
I reply to yours ("letter" Ed.) With a little nervousness caused by your silence.
Lindina you will never imagine how I desire one of yours ("letter" Ed), and not receiving it, the saddest thoughts assault my brain, and the most phantasmagoric visions come before my eyes making me see who knows how many times you that you no longer think of me, that you do not love me, and who knows how many other bad things that my miserable language cannot pronounce ... "
"Sora 16-7-39 - VII" ("fascist year" Ed.)
Dearest love, with the greatest joy, I reply to your dear letter, which has reached me today. Lindina you will want to excuse me if sometimes in my letters I am a little impulsive, but you must understand, that it is the love I have towards you that makes me insane.
Not a minute of the day goes by, that my thoughts are not turned towards you, and I remember all our talks, all our walks, every intimate we had with you and I wonder: what will my Linda do now without me? Maybe he will think of his distant love? And my heart answers yes. "
"(Place not present for military reasons) - 29/07/1942 - XX
... I really liked the two conchigline I found in the letter of the 22nd from Imperia. Do you think Linda wanted to be a little bird, and see our daughter how he looked for them, and what he told you when he gave them to you to send them to me. I think of you how happy you will be, that you see Imperia growing like a flower, and that you guide it, and you look at it as you look at an angel. But for my part, I am happy all the same, because when it is joy for you, it is happiness for me too. Perhaps you will be even more worried than me, as despite being happy you have the constant thought for me, and who knows how many times you will repeat a name that with the help of our good God, will return safe and sound. "...
He died immediately after the last letter together with his friend Massetti from Città di Castello, the other Umbertidesi present with him in Podgorica buried him.
We insert here some images of 1933-34, the love letters and the envelope that Linda carefully preserved with the 6 edelweiss that Aristide had sent him; the letter of departure for the AOI; postcards, front and back from Eritrea with images that are racist and sexist in our eyes today; sheets for the symbols of the 1: 25000 tablets of the IGM, the patriotic propaganda theme made to write in class to the daughter ...
Linda also replied, although less frequently, moreover only a few letters have survived, those reported in the few licenses by Aristide. The writing is more tiring and with spelling errors that we decided to leave to remember the female condition of the time where compulsory schooling was not respected especially for girls.
The last letter visible in the images inserted above was from Linda but he returned only later with the remains of Aristide in 1960; it was probably kept in its uniform. "Arille" was the affectionate way in which he called Aristide, and as usual the family affections dominate the thoughts of the two but the letter also briefly describes the situation of rationing during the war in Umbertide "nothing is found" and the solidarity between women with the wife of another "recalled" who brought food to their little daughter. “Recalled” indicates those who, like Aristide, had obtained “unlimited leave” but were “recalled” to arms with the worsening of the conflict; condition according to Linda suffered by Aristide and the other young people from Umbertide who left in '41. Linda also used to tell how the conflict led Aristide to moments of despair and that once, returning from leave, he seriously asked her to throw all three under the train nearby.
My dearest Aristide
For a few days, I have not heard from you, the last of yours on the 22nd, Rille my thoughts vague, that again you will be moved, for another action, this is the thought that does not give me peace, Arille with a contracted heart , and full of hope I never tire of praying our good God, who is so good and merciful, will always watch over you, to make you return as soon as possible to your home, which is always full of your memories, where Imperia remembers its father a hundred, but a hundred times a day, your caresses, your sweet little words, full of fatherly love, Arille when our little one reminds me of your compliments, a knot tightens my tears, my heart no longer knows how to fight it has this great pain, of this your distance, that I do not know what I would give just to let me pass by in a moment to see you, and see the state you are in, Arille in these days that are without news from you the saddest thoughts assail me and make me suffer so much, Arille mirror everything as long as I get a line of comfort from you and relief, explaining the delay of this post. Arillino days ago I sent you the photo Imperia I hope it has reached you. Arille as I told you, indeed you will know, that times are difficult now and nothing can be found, but I tell you that our Imperia has lacked for nothing up to now, because there are the wives of those recalled who are with you that every so much they bring me eggs and flour, today Gigino di Dalai's wife came and brought Imperia 10 eggs and flour, dear kisses Linda and Imperia. "
Linda young and still beautiful, with her darker and lighter eyes, peculiarity given by a benign neoplasm to the eye, found herself facing a life in poverty with a small daughter but with great strength and courage; with the bombing of Umbertide he welcomed Pompeo who was one year older than his daughter, who was orphaned by his whole family. They grew up as brothers until he had to send them far away to give them the future by making them come back whenever possible. Linda didn't want to anymore no one close to him waiting secretly and irrationally, in his heart, that Aristide's death had been communicated by mistake; conviction that ended at the return of the petty cash with what remained of his body.
In addition to the family story, Aristide's documents tell us about our local history.
Among the various documents that you can see in the gallery above, for example, there is one that can shed light, although it is undated, on the composition and structuring of the "umbertidesi fasci" system, part of history for obvious reasons not much in-depth since the war. up to the present day. In the typed document, with the caption "FEDERATION OF THE COMBAT BANDS OF PERUGIA" at the head, continuing underneath with the words "BAND OF UMBERTIDE", the distinction of the city is evident in at least five sectors, since this was the fifth. This "sector" concerned the area of Piazza S. Francesco, Via Secoli, Via Soli, Via Spoletini, Via Stella, Via Cesare Battisti. There was the "head of the sector": Ramaccioni Gino e 3 "nuclei". At the "head" of the first "nucleus" there was just Guardabassi Aristide with the particularity of being registered without the reference to be a "(CN)", or a black shirt. This writing instead appears next to the names of the "head" of the "II nucleus", Ramaccioni Dino, and of the "III nucleus", Pucci Carlo. Thus the list seems to have been written before the '' African enterprise, when Aristide was certainly a "Black Shirt" but was also used later ( 1935-'38) seen that in pencil you can read next to various names of the components of the "nuclei" the military destination of some: Bologna, Africa, Milan, Albania. However the components of this list are 17 in first “nucleus”, 17 the second and 23 the third. Overall, the "V sector" alone therefore counted on 61 belonging to the "Fasci di Umbertide".
Here are the names present in the document relating to the "V sector" of the "Fascio di Umbertide":
(Piazza S. Francesco - Via Secoli - Via Soli - Via Spoletini - Via Stella - Via Cesare Battisti)
Head of Sector - Ramaccioni Gino
Head of core Guardabassi Aristide
Tarragoni Ginetto pupils
Tarragoni Students Enrico
Head of nucleus Ramaccioni Dino (CN)
Head of Core Pucci Carlo (CN)
Tullini Elmo students
Other letters speak to us, however, of historical events of national significance such as the departure for the AOI when he writes from from the ship Princess Giovanna:
"Sender: Aristide Guardabassi Black Shirt,
First Division CC. NN. March 23
202 th Legion,
Second company, East Africa.
08/28/1939 - XIII EF ("Fascist Year and Epoch" Ed.)
Dear Linda, first of all, I extend my affection to you, with the best wishes for a goodbye soon (before it is possible).
Linda as she announces by telegram that you left on Sunday evening, the last 25th, with the ship Principessa Giovanna, and indeed it was.
Our ship has lifted the anchors to head to Massawa in Eritrea, at 5 and 45 minutes, and we will arrive on 2 September the same day. Linda when the ship left the quay, to head towards the East, the immense crowd that filled the port, gave us a warm show of sympathy and affection, (and some faces were covered with tears) that you cannot imagine ... "
An analysis of the long correspondence in search of historical elements as well as affective ones could reveal further information on the modalities of life during Fascism in the upper Tiber Valley and in our country.
The correspondence is interrupted with the life of Aristide, just a end of July 1942, after 18 years his remains will return to Umbertide.
A red envelope Linda kept inside the wooden box contained the last one missive written by Aristide, one page newspaper with the news of the death and the letter from her friend, Alberto Burri, written to Linda at the time of the news of the killing in July 1942. Burri, 3 years younger, was captured in Tunisia the following year, on 8 May 1943, and after several trips he was taken to the concentration camps of the United States .
This is the text of the letter:
" Dear Madam,
You know how great our friendship was and you can understand how I too suffer for the loss of dear Aristide. However, the knowledge that he has left us in fulfilling all his duty as an Italian and a Fascist must help you and help us to bear this pain. He will always be alive in our memory with his eternally smiling face and with his good humor that increased with the difficulties of the moment. He was an excellent soldier and an excellent father, and little Imperia can be proud of him.
You like mine Madam best regards.
Alberto Burri "
Aristide was one of the 93 dead or missing in the war of our country, but in addition to them the toll of lives for this war was very conspicuous because 70 died under the bombing of 1944 people, 22 were killed in retaliation (in Penetola, Serra Partucci, Civitella Ranieri and Montecastelli), 34 people died as a result of the war, 1 in prison camps and 2 at the front after 8 September as partisans. For those wishing to see their complete list, you can read the precious text by Mario Tosti " Beautiful works. Information, documents, testimonies and images on life and death events that took place in the Municipality of Umbertide during the Second World War ." Municipality of Umbertide, 25 April 1995.
In total, therefore, a good two hundred and eighty-two Umbertidesi died during this conflict.
- Family archive of the Micucci-Guardabassi family
- Oral source Fam. Guardabassi-Deplanu
- Mario Tosti: " Beautiful works. Information, documents, testimonies and images on life and death events that occurred in the Municipality of Umbertide during the Second World War . Edited by Mario Tosti. Municipality of Umbertide, 25 April 1995.
- Photo: Family archive of the Micucci-Guardabassi family