Author with director Alessandro Piva for a research project on oral history that became the short film “Pastanera”, the anthropologist and video maker from Foggia Giovanni Rinaldi born from this work in 2009 the narrative report “The train of happiness. Stories of children traveling between two Italy”, reconstruction of some aspects of the history of southern children under severe economic conditions, which were entrusted (for months or years) to peasant families from the north , including many families from Romagna, at the initiative of Udi and PCI.
The project has now led to the creation of “I was also on that train. The true story of the children who united Italy”, published by Solferino. the story “(free access, direct Facebook).
When asked what led him to this realization, the author responds with a quote about what he was told twenty years ago, precisely in Romagna, at the Lugo Library by «two exceptional women, Irma Siroli and Ida Cavallini: we women we never demobilized. We came from the resistance movement, and we faced another resistance, we fought against misery … And then we hosted the children of the South and the children of the Polesins. Our organizations, the Udi, the party, the workers’ chambers, were always present. But the task of welcoming the children was only the beginning. There was the fight for kindergartens, then we wanted full-time schools, then we wanted the summer leisure center and the colonies. It has been tough battles, but we have led and won them. “
Rinaldi, what were the “lucky trains”?
The “Salvation of the Children of Italy” movement, as it was called in the numerous committees spread throughout Italy, was born in Milan of the imagination and passion of Teresa Noce, who was part of the Constituent Assembly, and was organized by the incipient Italian Women’s Union (Udi), heir to the women’s defense groups – born within the partisan struggle – and promoted throughout Italy by PCI from 1945 to 1952. Tens of thousands of children were hosted and cared for by the farmer and working-class families from Tuscany, Marche, Emilia-Romagna, Veneto and Lombardy, where they were dressed, cared for and sent to school.The definition of “train of happiness” summed up the difficult choice of removing children from their loved ones and at the same time the happiness of returning them to their families after experiencing new feelings and Happiness in the eyes of these children, by looking to the future with less fear and more confidence ‘.
Why did you write that it is also “the portrait of a popular but deeply noble Italy”?
“This movement was an expression of an Italy that took the place of institutions that organized new forms of solidarity society and collective management of public affairs from below. Politics became the collective, necessary and pragmatic tool to build the common good. It was also an opportunity. to discover, as Miriam Mafai wrote, “a possible solidarity between North and South, between workers and peasants, a meeting between people who had experienced the atrocities of war in a different way, the overcoming of old misunderstandings and mistrust, a coming in contact with different worlds: the Emilian cooperative and the southern underclass, with the establishment of fraternal relations that will last over time “”.
What is the importance of remembering, in the current situation, this, which was “an incredible expression of solidarity … it was not without obstacles”?
“I met and listened to hundreds of witnesses, beginning with the stories of the workers in Tavoliere di Puglia, my country. However, each of these stories remains unique in itself, original, resistant to the standardization and flattening of a superficial analysis. Each child, along with the others, has lived a great collective story, but has also faced his specific personal story, which he will store in his memory forever. Witnesses who in their narrative seem to want to throw out the fragments of life that they feel are essential, crucial to their autobiographical journey, from the dark bays of their memory. As if to say that in the darkness from which everyone felt they came, there was a light, an experience, some people, a model of society, which showed them the possibility of a better future. “