It’s already April 25th in Italy, Liberation Day, when the fall of the Nazis and Fascists is celebrated.
In 1952, convicted war criminal Albert Kesselring, responsible for the Ardeatine Caves massacre in Rome among many other crimes, was released from prison on the grounds of ill-health. He arrogantly claimed that rather than imprison him, the ungrateful Italians should have built him a monument.
There is a monument. It’s in Cuneo, and it has this poem on engraved on it. I am posting my translation for Liberation Day. Ora e sempre.
Memorial Plaque for Disgrace
by Piero Calamandrei
You’ll get it,
the monument you claim from us Italians
but what stone it’s built from—
that’s for us to choose now.
Not from the scorched stones
of the defenseless hamlets you mutilated, eradicated,
not from the earth of the graveyards
where our comrades, so very young,
not from the inviolate snow of the mountains
which for two winters defied you
not from the springtime of these valleys
which saw you turn and run away.
But only from the silence of the tortured
tougher than any boulder
only from the hard rock of this pact
sworn among free men
assembling as volunteers
for dignity not hate
fixed on redeeming
the shame, the terror of the world.
Should you ever feel like walking these streets
again you’ll find us at our posts
the dead and the living determined alike
the people closing ranks around a monument
which is called
now and forever
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