On the night between 24th and 25th November 1943, a fascist patrol burst into Cervi family farmhouse in Gattatico, in the province of Reggio Emilia, in Italy, and captured the head of the family Alcide, and his seven male sons: Gelindo, Antenore, Aldo, Ferdinando, Agostino, Ovidio and Ettore.
was active in the anti-fascist struggle, even before the establishment
of the regime, and then in the Resistenza against the nazi occupation
and the puppet state of the fascist republic, so as to form, with
other comrades, a partisan squad, which had scored many military
and political victories, such as the famous anti-fascist pasta
festival on July 26th, 1943, to celebrate
the unfortunately provisional fall of the fascist regime.
After the arrest, the eight Cervi, with other prisoners, were taken to the Reggio Emilia "dei Servi" jail, and on December 28th, the seven brothers, along with another prisoner, Quarto Camurri, were taken to Reggio Emilia firing range and executed by a firing squad. Their father was in jail and learned about the death of his sons only later, as he was able to escape taking advantage of an allied bombing.
Years later Alcide Cervi so described those days in Reggio Emilia jail:
I knew that, I felt a deep remorse, I had understood nothing,
nothing, and I greeted them waving my hand, for the last time,
being hopeful that they would go to the trial and prevail over
the fascists, they were so cunning and full of tricks. Instead
they were going to die. They knew, but they wanted to leave me
the illusion, and they greeted me smiling, and with that smile
they gave me their last goodbye. Sons, why did you have pity on
my old age, why didn't you tell me you were going to be shot?
I would have screamed against the fascists, as I always did, and
maybe you would not be dead. Now that they've told me everything,
and your prison mates have referred your sentences, my remorse
When the fascist guard told us "go to sleep, it's for tomorrow", you Gelindo replied: "Why should we go to sleep, we have slept so long and now we go towards the eternal sleep".
But I didn't hear his sentence, otherwise I had understood. And when you, Hector, the younger and the dearer, you left your white sweater to Codeluppi, I asked, "Why do you leave it? In Parma it will be cold", and you smiled without answering me. But now I knew that you said Codeluppi, "Why should we let them pierce it? It's new, keep it for your son, at least it will be good for something".
Why did you do so my children? Am I guilty if I have always believed in you, that no one would have prevailed on you? Wasn't it always so when we were together and you came back as winners from the trials, the jails, the fights with the fascists, the partisan attacks?
But to death, to death I had never thought. Well-deserved is my remorse, haughty me, I thought you were invulnerable to death. And even if in prison I said that you might have been dead, my blood didn't believe it, and opposed to it. But fathers and mothers are made like that, now I understand. They think they'll die, that the whole world will die, but their children will never leave them, not even after their death, and they'll always be playing around with their children that they have brought up for so many years, and death is a stranger. What does the death know of our privations, of the kisses you gave me even when you were grown up, of the nights I stood watch by your beds, seven children, they take all your lifetime! And you Gelindo, who were always ready to answer, you don't know me anymore and do not answer me? And you, Ettore, who in the tall grass, used to say: "I'm not here anymore!". Now the tall grass has covered you all, and you are not here anymore. And you, Aldo, you so strong and smarter than life, have you been defeated by death?
Curse pity and curse whom from heaven closed my ears and clouded my eyes, so that I didn't understand and stayed alive in your place! Nothing of your last moments we know anymore, neither a sentence, a look or a thought. You were all seven together, even before death, and I know that you hugged and kissed each other, and Gelindo shouted before the fire: "You are killing us, but we will never die!"
From: Alcide Cervi. I miei sette figli. (edited by Renato Nicolai)- Istituto Fratelli Cervi - Patria Indipendente (Organ of ANPI - Associazione Nazionale Partigiani d'Italia)
Gelindo (August 7th, 1901); Antenore (March 30th, 1904); Aldo (February 9th, 1909); Ferdinando (April 19th, 1911); Agostino (January 11th, 1916); Ovidio (March 18th, 1918) and Ettore (June 2nd, 1921).
From: Amedeo TAGLIACOZZO (1980) item "Cervi". In : Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, Volume 24 link