1944. Italy is getting back its liberty after suffering a chocking fascist oppression for twenty years. On the one side the Allied forces are occupying strategic spots along the Peninsula, on the other side an army of volunteer Italian citizens who foster ideals of freedom and justice bravely takes weapons against the nazi-fascist regime and fights for that extraordinary struggle called Resistance.
In this country – a stage where a fratricidal battle is taking place – a 17-year-old boy, inspired by ideals of liberty and democracy, decides to renounce to all his privileges derived from his aristocrat and rich origins. With huge sacrifices and risking his life, he leaves Palazzo Lateranense in Rome that gave him refuge and enrolls as a volunteer in the Allied army, where later he will get the rank of Intelligence and Liaison officer with the 8th Indian Infantry Division of the British Army.
This is the starting point of Alessandro Cortese de Bosis’ adventure, told by himself in a book published in Italy and now in the English edition with the title In No Man’s Land. The book was presented on 24th October at the solemn Regimental Centre of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers inside the Tower of London. High personalities attended the event, including the officer representative of the Pakistan Army, whom de Bosis offered special greetings and thanks for the relevant help it gave to the liberation of Italy.
In No Man’s Land is an autobiographic book, a smooth and ready writing that highlights on single memorials of men and women whose stories are like pieces that made up the big and complex event which was the fight for the liberation of Italy. Without pretending to have a historiographic approach and with a sort of consistent style, de Bosis tells us about his personal experiences, his hopes, his youth ardencies, his suffering from the bloody events they were going on, his anxious searching for peace through war. He tells us, with shame and delicateness, about his regret for a potential love with a girl, that the war circumstances would make impossible. It is a kind of adventure novel, but it is an adventure full of ethic and libertarian value, where the big History is as one with small stories: lives and people stories that intertwine, stories of young men that have in common a deep repulsion for the fascist violence, men who are ready to sacrifice their lives for Liberty.
From a “backstage” and transversal point of view, de Bosis focuses on the multiethnic presence inside the Allied Army, an interesting aspect often overlooked by the Italian historiographic literature. The soldiers died during the Liberation battle were seven millions, hundreds of thousands among them were Asian, Indian, Pakistan, Hispanic and from the other seventeen nationalities that were represented in both the British and American armies.
It seems like an invisible and ideal line that ties Alessandro de Bosis’ experiences to his uncle’s, Lauro de Bosis. Poet and writer during fascism, Lauro, at a dawn of 76 year ago, left France to Rome on-board of a small airplane loaded with flyers calling on the King and the people to rebel to fascism and fight for democracy. After concluding the launch of the flyers above the Italian capital, he disappeared into the sea on his way back to France, possibly as he ran out of fuel, insufficient in order to increase the pay load. The echo of that heroic action could have sounded to his 17-year-old nephew like a warning and an example to follow. And it is still for us a current warning that urges us to not forget the experiences of those who lost their lives for our freedom.
By Maria Teresa Sette
From START – Italian Art and Culture in London