Tina and Battista, in a beautiful picture taken in 1948 at the beginning of their long  journey of love.

Tina and Battista, in a beautiful picture taken in 1948 at the beginning of their long
journey of love.

Yes, there are no words. But sometimes we have to find them, to make sense of life and things. The day we brought to the cemetery my dad Battista, the great soldier of Kefalonia, survivor of the horrible nazi massacre of Acqui Division (1943), my mom Tina joined him in Heaven. Yes, my mother also passed on the day of my father’s funeral.

They lived together for over sixty-five years and together have passed away. A love story. Or a story of mystery, through which pass great and profound questions.

Suddenly you find yourself orphans, but not devoid of references and guidelines that your parents have passed and given. Yes, there are no words: only the silence of myself and many others. Only the beauty of a busy and wonderful life that they have lived together in the wake of a creed renewed day after day:

“Place me like a seal over your heart,

like a seal on your arm;

for Love is as strong as Death”

(Song of Songs 8:6).


Last night my father passed away. He was one of the few survivors of Kefalonia slaughter in 1943. A terrible event happened during the Second World War. Thousands of young Italian soldiers were killed by nazis on the Greek island. My dad Battista survived to massacre and he dedicated his life to tell and remember those terrible facts. I want to make memory of my father posting an abstract from my little book “My father in the hell of Kefalonia – A survivor memory, an unpunished massacre and the State conspiracy of silence”.


My father Battista told me…

A nightmare. This is still for me, Kefalonia. I’m a survivor. I was in that hell from November 1942 to November 1944, along with other 11.600 Italians. After September 8, 1943 – as a result of our refusal to surrender to the German army – about 9.000 Italian soldiers were massacred. A terrible massacre, that still remains in my eyes and on my mind. There are so many images about those awful days of terror: stories of war and death, written in the blood of so many young people who pursued the dream of a better Italy. I was nineteen years old when I was assigned to the Divisione Acqui – at 33th Artillery, First group, Second battery – on the Greek-Albanian front, already controlled by German Army. The armistice proclaimed in Italy by general Badoglio (September 8, 1943) changes our destinies. Germans claim our surrender, but they do not offer enough guarantees about Italian troops repatriation. Italian officers called a consultation between the military departments: it’s an unprecedented event in the modern army history. We decide to refuse surrender and not to give our weapons to the germans. And after that, the Apocalypse…

An historical photo: Battista Alborghetti (first on the left) and five fellows in Cefalonia in 1943 before the massacre.
An historical photo: Battista Alborghetti (first on the left) and five fellows in Cefalonia in 1943 before the massacre.

In the early hours of the battle I see my three companions dying. They fall down close to me. Some minutes later, a splinter of a grenade explosion hits my left leg. The Acqui Division – poor in weapons – is destroyed. People who do not succumb in the fighting they become prey of the Wehrmacht. German soldiers rakes the island, inch by inch. I escaped from the capture in a couple of occasions; I hide myself between mules and I repaire inside water pipes in the undergrowth. They capture me on September 21.

About 300 Officers (captains, lieutenants and second lieutenants) were captured and transferred to the sadly known “Red House”, in San Teodoro. Against every principle of the international conventions, they were shot within 36 hours, four people at a time… The corpses, weighed down with rolls of barbed wire, they were then thrown into the sea, sprinkled with petrol and burned in bonfires, whose light illuminated the night, leaving a foul smell in the air.

My companions were loaded onto trucks and taken somewhere: I won’t see them anymore. My friend, the second lieutenant Giampietro Matteri – from Dongo (Como), twenty-two years old – is killed on September 24. The same destiny for another friend, the second lieutenant Pillepich, from Trieste: I still remember the terror in his eyes when, together with eleven companions, he was dragged from the group. Few minutes later we heard the shots of machine guns, followed by cries of pain, yells, invocations. And then other shots. The finishing strokes.

At the concentration camp we were treated worse than beasts. In the morning, Wehrmacht officers assembled us, offering – as they were saying – “the chance to return to Italy”. But I always said to myself: if they want to kill me, I prefer that they do it here. We now know: who accepted that proposals were shot. They were shipped on steamers, as easy targets for Stukas airplanes or for floating mines. It’s what that happened to my compatriot, Ferdinando Mangili. He climbed aboard of one of those ships that were full of soldiers who looked forward to reach home… But the ship was sunk off and the waves returned the corpses… The Germans forced me to bury the dead, all around the island. Chaplain father Luigi Ghilardini and I, we recomposed corpses or what was left of bodies mangled by bullets and then devoured by ravens and vultures…

One day the nazis picked up us suddenly and they brought us in the square of Lixouri, where they deployed 13 Greeks accused of being partisans. Those poor people were hunged under our eyes. It happened that one of them – because of a broken rope – fell to the ground. He was still alive. Nazis soldiers took him and hung him again… If at that moment I had been given a stab, I would release even a single drop of blood, so I was shocked.

In October 1944, nazis abandoned Kefalonia: they were moving to other fronts. We remained on the island for nearly a month, as forgotten people. We scanned the horizon, waiting for a ship. We wanted to end this terrible experience. Finally on November 13, the Garibaldi and Artigliere ships landed to Argostoli ‘s port. We embarked to Taranto, but to be back home I will have to wait till June 5, in 1945. The war stole me everything but the joy to be back home, as well as the inability to forget Kefalonia, the dead, the extermination, the ferocity.

No medal, no bonuses, even no official apology from the German State – apology always denied, but never officially requested by Italy – can never compensate what was removed to thousands of young people, to thousands of families. Inside me, in addition to horror, remains the strength to repeat that all this cannot longer occurs. Never again. Never again. Never again.

© Copyright Roberto Alborghetti



During a recent press conference in Milan for the presentation of the first Drawing Biennial in Rimini (Italy) – see my previous post – I had the great occasion to admire the original Fellini’s Book of Dreams (the two volumes were brought to Milan from Rimini by a special security team…).

logoBiennaleDisegnoAnyone familiar with the films of Fellini knows that he gave importance to dreams. The extent of that devotion is fully evident with his “Il Libro dei Sogni” (The Book of Dreams). These sketches are mostly done with variously colored felt-tip pens. Urged by the Jungian analyst Ernst Bernhard, Fellini jotted down and illustrated his own nocturnal fantasies over the space of thirty years. The first volume (approximately 245 pages) goes from November 30, 1960 to August 2, 1968, while the second (154 pages) goes from February 1973 until the end of 1982: a span of 22 years, which is supplemented by other scattered pages and several notes dated 1990.

Long before he ventured into the oneiric universe with the cognitive tools recommended by Bernhard, however, Fellini was well aware of the importance of dreams. Indeed, he often asked his friends to tell him their dreams and urged them not to waste what he called “the night work” , at least as important, if not more so, than the thoughts and activities of one’s waking hours. Having seen for himself that a dream could only be remembered for a few minutes upon awakening, the director kept a notebook on his bedside table where he jotted down his visions and feelings as soon as he opened his eyes.

The original “The Book of Dreams” is displayed at Museo della Città di Rimini; the work was published in 2008 by Fondazione Federico Fellini and Rizzoli New York. Last year the events of ‘Fellinianno 2013’, symbolically inaugurated with the opening of a room in the Museo della Città dedicated to the ‘Book of Dreams’. Rimini promoted a series of initiatives and events to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the death of the great director and to celebrate the decennial anniversaries of ‘I vitelloni’ (60 years), ‘8 e ½’ (50 years), ‘Amarcord’ (40 years) and ‘And the Ship Sails On’ (30 years). These films trace and expose the strong connection with Rimini found in the work of the great Maestro.


Federico Fellini - Work on display at First Drawing Biennial in Rimini (open until June 8, 2014)

Federico Fellini – Work on display at First Drawing Biennial in Rimini (open until June 8, 2014)