Life in Italy During the War

Postwar Life


Alfiero Giamberardino was born in May 1936 near Rome [Annotator's Note: Rome, Italy]. The American and British bombers would fly over his town 400 at a time. He would count the planes as they passed. The bombers would go to Genoa [Annotator's Note: Genoa, Italy] and Trieste [Annotator's Note: Trieste, Italy]. In 1945, the Germans entered Giamberardino's town. He was not afraid of them. The Germans would send telegrams to the mayor telling him they needed the barns for the soldiers. They also used the school as a headquarters. Some of the houses were occupied by the Germans. They would eat in Giamberardino's home. The Germans stole food from the civilians because their supply lines were bombed by the British and Americans. The family would hide food in fake walls. The Gestapo [Annotator's Note: German Geheime Staatspolizei or Secret State Police; abbreviated Gestapo] would tap on walls to see which ones were hollow. Giamberardino's uncle was taken away, but a few weeks later he managed to make it home after jumping out the train. The Germans tried to force him to fight in the war. When tanks would come by, the Germans made local boys cover them up to protect them from bombers. The Germans gave the kids chocolate. Sometimes the Germans made booby-traps and gave them to the kids. Giamberardino thought some of the Germans were good and others were bad. The Germans would play with the kids sometimes, they were generally friendly, but others were bad. In one town nearby, the Germans put a bunch of kids in a church and blew it up. The kids were in their 20s. Some of the bombers dropped their payloads in the area, but not many. There was a shipyard and sometimes they strafed the Germans. Giamberardino's father fought in Africa. He left for war when Giamberardino was six months old and returned home when he was 11 years old. His father had been captured by the British. He would write letters to the family. When he came home, Giamberardino did not want to see him. Giamberardino's mother would make clothing for the townspeople. He had an older sister and a couple of younger sisters. Some British airmen were shot down near the town and hid in the nearby caves. The townspeople would bring them food and Giamberardino would warn them if the Germans were suspicious. He thought the British were good soldiers and he liked their uniforms. They did not have anything to give Giamberardino. The British were hidden in small caves that the Germans never searched. There were not many partisan fighters in his town. The Germans evacuated on their own. One evening, they started moving out of the town. Some Allied planes started shooting at the convoy. The Germans knew they were losing the war, which is why they did so many bad things. There was a large ammunition store that the Germans could not bring with them. They had the local kids transport the ammunition to mountain for disposal. Giamberardino did not know what he was doing. He found one large shell he thought might be defective. He started hitting the shell to open it up, but it never blew up.


Alfiero Giamberardino started screaming about the war's end when they heard about it on the radio. The British were on the Adriatic Sea. The Allies went to Rome [Annotator's Note: Rome, Italy] and kept moving north. When Giamberardino's father came home, he was not interested in his father. Eventually, Giamberardino started wanting to do things with him. His father was a stone mason. His mother's family moved to the United States in the early 1900s, but at some point moved back to Europe. His mother received a telegram saying she was an American citizen, allowing her to immigrate. She went to the consulate in Naples [Annotator's Note: Naples, Italy], who confirmed she could move. The remainder of the family immigrated in 1955. Giamberardino did not become an American citizen. Giamberardino knows American children do not know what war is like. He did not have much food during the war. People do not invade their homes. During the 11 September attacks [Annotator's Note: series of terrorist attacks against the United States led by Al Qaeda on 11 September 2001], Giamberardino and his family were supposed to be in a plane to return to New York [Annotator's Note: New York]. It reminded him of some of his childhood during the war. Sometime his childhood comes up in conversation with his family. Sometimes Giamberardino would play on the big German guns. Mussolini [Annotator's Note: Italian fascist dictator Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini; also know as il Duce] would give fruit to the kindergarten kids. Giamberardino never saw Mussolini, but his mother saw him. He hid outside of his town in the mountains. He was hiding from partisans. Giamberardino believes the worst thing he did was allying himself with the Fuhrer [Annotator's Note: German dictator Adolf Hitler]. Giamberardino believes Mussolini was doing alright before that. Giamberardino thinks that whatever the Germans did to the Jewish people should have been done to them as well.

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