Siete quiThe Salt Road No.1
The Salt Road No.1
After the Armistice of 8th September 1943 armed and civil resistance developed in this war torn land as a result of the harsh German occupation and increasingly difficult living conditions. This resistance won the Province of Massa-Carrara the Medaglia d’Oro al Valor Militare (the Gold Medal for Military Valour) and the Medaglia d’Oro al Merito Civile (the Gold Medal for Civilian Merit) for the Comune di Massa (Massa’s Town Council). In memory of this the Council and the European Community have reawakened these memories.
The 1st of September 1944 the Feldkommandantur of Massa issued a general evacuation order to take effect before the 15th of September. Even the civilian framework of the Repubblica Sociale closed its offices and abolished ration cards. The inhabitants, who should have gone towards the district of Parma, took refuge instead in the countryside, in the mountains, in the quarries, while some remained in the City in spite of the evacuation order. In this situation the women of Massa contributed to the maintenance of life of the entire community. “A civilian epoch of youngsters in their shirtsleeves and poor barefoot women, whilst their men were fighting the Germans in the mountains, fought in the plains against starvation”: as described by Piero Calamandrei in a speech in 1954. To procure goods to exchange for a sack of flour, the women emptied their cupboards of sheets and linen from their bottom drawers, which were particularly appreciated in Garfagnana. Other important goods were salt, almost unobtainable, produced by the women after a long and difficult process, which demonstrated their strong will to fight to survive: in groups, with carts pushed by hand, they went to the beach and filled huge demijohns with salt water. Then, in hidden locations, because they couldn’t be visible to the Germans or the Fascists, and with wood cut from the pine woods or the woods, they built big fires and boiled the salt water in large pots, buckets, or pans made from sheet metal, just to obtain a little salt to exchange for flour.
The salt was then carried on their shoulders to Garfagnana or to the Padana plain using the old paths such as the Via Vandelli, or pushing hand carts along the road to the Cisa or Cerreto passes, taking the grave risk of being machine gunned or commandeered or of violence from the Fascists or Germans. The work of the women against starvation and commandeering, to reduce the damage of the war and the German occupation, represented a fundamental movement in the civilian resistance which allowed Massa to obtain the Medaglia d’Oro al Merito Civile (the Gold Medal for Civilian Merit). “The battle for liberty and for bread” – Calamandrei remembers – “was just one battle”.
Copyright © I sentieri della Memoria- Tutti i diritti riservati