Partisan baptism by Luciano Lama

Before being accepted into the resistance movement, a partisan had to be investigated. For the future Secretary General of CGIL, that investigation took place in the middle of wheat fields. It was a conversation about social justice and freedom in memory of his brother Lelio, shot by the Germans

Luciano Lama was born in Gambettola on 14 October 1921. His mother says: “At birth, Luciano weighed more than four kilos, he had almost all his hair, he was beautiful. He spent his first years of life a little here and a little there, according to our movements, just like Lelio. Luciano was a very lively child. More than once he gave me worries, because he never stood still, he wandered around the street, through the houses of the neighbors. The twenties were particularly hard on our family, and not only because of the frequent moves to which we had to submit”.

Russi, Gambettola, Forlimpopoli, Ravenna, Sasso Marconi, Cesena, Castelfranco, Bologna. These are the stages of the Lama family, which fully follows the movements due to the profession of the family head Domenico. At the outbreak of war, Luciano is called into the army. After 8 September 1943, he actively participated in the resistance movement.

Thus, on July 24, 1997, Sergio Flamigni, a partisan, Member of the Italian Communist Party from 1968 to 1987, member of the parliamentary commissions of inquiry into the Moro case, the P2 Loggia and the Anti-Mafia, he told the Chamber of Labor of Forlì about his ‘baptism’: “It was then that Luciano Lama, through the organization’s regular connections asked to come with us to fight the Germans and the Fascists. It was my turn to research his biography. We had given ourselves the rule that before admitting someone new to the ranks, we should examine him carefully, take all possible information . It was someone I knew as a good communist, a railway worker, friend and colleague of Luciano’s father, who introduced it to me and guaranteed it. The meeting took place along a large ditch, in the middle of the wheat fields, near San Leonardo; another companion was also present. We talked for a long time. He answered many questions. As he talked and told, he won my sympathy. I noticed that we had the same ideal hopes for freedom and social justice. ed, the same cultural taste that was nourished by humanism (….) In that meeting, Luciano told me that he had recently learned that his brother Lelio had been shot in Stia together with numerous partisans captured by the Germans during a roundup in the mountains; he spoke in anguish, and it was clear that, in addition to the political and ideal reasons for fighting the Nazi-fascists, he had the heavy and open account to settle”.

Introducing him to me and guaranteeing it – Flamigni will remember on the first anniversary of the secretary’s death – was someone I knew as a good communist, a railway worker, friend and colleague of Luciano’s father. The meeting took place along a large ditch, in the middle of the wheat fields, near San Leonardo; another companion was also present. We talked for a long time. He answered many questions. As he talked and told, he won my sympathy. I noted that we had the same ideal aspirations for freedom and social justice, the same cultural taste nourished by humanism; he told me about his readings of French and English social novelists, about his admiration for the Russian writers Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Gogol. He told me that he had studied social science in Florence and had been able to read a compendium of Charles Marx’s Capital in German, and indeed he knew German well. Luciano made me feel nostalgic for the studies interrupted by the German invasion. In the years ’41, ’42, ’43 I was part of a group of young anti-fascist students and workers who, with their own savings, had put together a secret library that also contained books by authors banned by fascism. A young worker brought the first volume of Marx’s Capital, which he had managed to steal from the municipal library, as a dowry for the library. On holidays we gathered and discussed our readings. How much thirst for freedom and how much utopia there was in our youthful discussions. With the same thirst for freedom and with the same utopian horizon, I happen to discuss with Luciano and with many other comrades from our brigade about the future society that we would have built in Italy after the expulsion of the Nazi fascists. In that meeting, Luciano told me that he had recently learned that his brother Lelio had been shot in Stia, together with numerous partisans captured by the Germans during a rally in the mountains; he spoke in anguish, and it was understood that in addition to the political and ideal reasons for fighting the Nazi-fascists, he had the heavy and open account to settle. I was therefore sure that, on the ideal and political level, Luciano was one of us, even though he had not played in any party and could enter the Brigade. We then moved on to discuss his military experiences. He was a complementarian in the army, but he quickly said that he had never fired a shot in battle and that his military training was limited to barracks life and did not serve our strategy. On September 8, 1943, he was on duty in Borello di Cesena, in command of a unit of recruits to be trained, who had just worn the military uniform and were unable to face the Germans. In agreement with his comrades from Cesena, he took the decision to dissolve the camp and to hand over all weapons and supplies to the Anti-Fascist Committee, weapons that were transported to the mountains and used for the first partisan formations. When called by the Republic of Salò, he did not appear and began his secret life. Under a false name, in agreement with an anti-fascist professor at the University of Florence, he supported the thesis on The farmhouses of sharecropping in Romagna. The degree will be given to him with his real name, only after liberation, by Rector Piero Calamandrei. In early December 1943, Ronta’s comrades helped him join the partisans in the mountains. He was given command of a company of about twenty partisans stationed at Ridracoli. The commander of the Brigade was an ex-career officer, inexperienced in guerrilla warfare, so the forces were not properly engaged. Luciano’s company carried out only a few actions with mines on the roads against trucks. Winter came with so much snow that it cleared the paths and forced immobility. In February ’44, Luciano fell ill with bronchopneumonia, and as the brigade doctor had no medicine to treat him, the political commissar decided that he should go down to the plains and return after recovery. When he had recovered, he came to look for us, although it was more difficult than in the mountains to carry out the struggle in an area increasingly occupied by the Germans, where the black gangs roamed in search of anti-fascists and draft dodgers, where the number of those deported to the camps grew, of Nazi concentration the number of arrested and imprisoned anti-fascists increased, the number of those shot and hanged in retaliation for guerrilla actions increased. So Luciano Lama joined our Brigade, became a Gappista, took Boris as his nom de guerre (he was a lover of opera music and especially liked Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov) and with that name he performed important tasks in the military organization. From that moment we shared sacrifices and achievements, reckless acts and fears, risks and satisfactions. On several occasions we escaped death almost by a miracle, and when I think of the many times luck has witnessed us, it seems to me that we owed some mysterious survival. Some hot summer nights, when our bed was the ground in the middle of the wheat fields, lying under the stars, we happened to ask ourselves the meaning of life. We saw death claim more victims every day. We were in the midst of a war, and there had been many others, but it seemed to us that men had learned nothing from history. So many things seemed absurd to us, first of all racism. Humanity seemed to us dominated by mechanisms that killed human emotions. The basis was the economic laws of big capital and big profit, possession, thirst for power, imperialism. The great problem seemed to us to be the liberation of humanity from these mechanisms: that was the communism we dreamed of there under the stars.

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