Travelling by train from Florence to Bologna, you go through two little stations, which are similar one another: one is named Vernio and the other San Benedetto Val di Sambro. They share a trait: they lie at the two ends of a very long tunnel, the Great Apennine Tunnel, with a lenght of more than 18 kilometres (about eleven miles).
The little stations have some more trait in common: the first one is close to the point in the tunnel where the Express train (rapido) 904 exploded, on December 23
rd 1984 (15 people killed and 267 wounded), the other is the one in which, coming out from the tunnel, the Italicus Express exploded, on August 4th, 1974 (12 people killed and 48 wounded).
The Fascists who put the bomb in 1974 did not want the train would explode in the tunnel: they planned to make it blow in Bologna station, aiming to kill more people, but the train was delayed and went off too early. The mafia killers who put the bomb in 1984, instead, made it explode on purpose in a tunnel, to boost the effects of the blast.
However they once succeeded in making Bologna station blow up: on August 2
nd 1980 they struck without fail and put the bomb in the waiting room, then went away, they weren't kamikaze after all, they just were fascists or secret service hit men, more probably both at the same time, there wasn't and still there isn't any conflict of interests.
The Fascists use to say they follow the SS motto, “My Honour is Loyalty”. I wonder if making some innocents blow up while they're waiting for the train falls within "honour" or rather within "loyalty"; and besides the fascists use to mention Homeland, but maybe Italian trains and stations don't belong to the Homeland, maybe they are extraterritorial.

On Italicus Express also a Japanese tourist died, Tsugufumi Fukada, perhaps he didn't even know who the fascists were, and certainly he didn't know that the fascist terrorist Delfo Zorzi would be run away in Japan and would have even obtained the citizenship of that country.
Tunnels, as places of remembrance are kind of peculiar, different from the others: if you are outside you can stop in the waiting room of Bologna station and think of the people who were there on August 2
nd, 1980, reading a newspaper and waiting for a train, or even you can empathize with the persons who were queuing up tor make a deposit into the Bank of Agriculture in the square piazza Fontana in Milan on December 12th, 1969, and you can also identify with the workers who were taking part in a trade-union meeting in Brescia on May 28th, 1974, in the square piazza della Loggia, to the passengers of the DC9 in Ustica on June 27th, 1980, to the students who sat in their classroom in Casalecchio di Reno on December 6th, 1990, or to the babygirls who slept with their parents in via dei Georgofili, in Florence, on May 27th, 1993.
But this can't happen in railway tunnels; you can only go through them by train, you barely have the time to pass there for few seconds and imagine the abyss of terror, dismay, darkness and pain experienced by that people twenty ot thirty years before, but you are anyway in transit, in a rush, in a warm and safe place, the lights are on, maybe you're chattering with those with the seats next to yours or you are speaking on your mobile.
Then tunnels end, even the very long ones, like those in which the slaughters happened, you go out in the daylight, you see meadows, hills, life, and all this put an end to your empathy with those dead, with their souls, if you believe in soul, or with their memory, if you are an unbeliever like me.
I wonder how their parents manage to take them a flower, who knows if they ever pass through that tunnel, and if so, what they feel (are the Japanese man's relatives still coming?), who knows if as they get by train into other tunnels they feel strange, or sad, or scared.
Doesn't matter if the fascist and the mafiosi had actually chosen to make the trains blow up in a tunnel, anyway a tunnel is a perfect scene of horror in the collective imagination, even for those who are not claustrophobic.
It's a scene already visited by the railway accidents: in 1944 an overloaded goods train drawn by a steam engine stopped on his climb in the tunnel galleria delle Armi (see my webpage on it) between Balvano and Bella, in the region Basilicata, southern Italy, more then 500 people choked to death by the smoke, the massacre wasn't determined by somebody, but also that place is forgotten, hardly somebody knows about the tragedy and very few people know where it took place, therefore almost nobody can think of that event as he gets into that tunnel

Until few years ago at San Benedetto station some coach of Italicus Express still remained, then they have been scrapped. You could see them passing with the train, maybe they prevented people from forgetting, it was better they didn't. Their images can still be seen at the end of the film “Strane storie” (Strange Stories) by Sandro Baldoni, brother to Enzo, another victim of an unpunished slaughter. Today a fragment of that train became a monument, in front of the little station.
Now the fascists have turned good, they even go to Jerusalem, at Yad Vashem, to pay homage to the Shoah's victims, sometimes they even dare to level accusations of anti-Semitism against the others.
Oblivion saves them, years ago the late President of the Republic Francesco Cossiga wanted to remove the word “fascist” from the memorial plaque in Bologna station, and slowly slowly, thanks to their old buddy which owns plenty of TV stations, they try to live down all the slaughters they made, when they guided the nazis to massacre newborn babies and pregnant women in the small village of Marzabotto, when they were kept on a leash by C.I.A. putting bombs in the banks, trains, railway stations and places, especially if there was a trade-union meeting.

At last the memory doesn't belong anymore to the people, many of them entrusted it on contract to some zealous storekeepers, that give it them a little at a time, just when they want.
They remind you that fascism was a very important twenty-year period (in order to sell you De Felice's books), that the Communists have on their conscience hundreds of million victims (maybe also the Auschwitz ones: wasn't the Red Army guilty for it?) or that the judicial inquiry on political corruption Mani Pulite (Clean Hands) was just a political character assassination operation (bribes? Yes, I remember those of the red co-op).
Then if someone perseveres in cultivating his own personal memory, based on the things that he has experienced, seen and thought, but that unavoidably clashes with the brand-new collective memory, he can only be a terrorist, or even, at best, a visionary dodderer.


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  page created: January 9th 2011 and last updated: March 1st, 2024