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War and literature: the present meets the past

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Le classi 5^ A e B del Liceo delle Scienze Applicate hanno percorso a Trieste un itinerario storico-letterario, accompagnate dalle rispettive insegnanti di inglese (Dreszach e Palumbo) e storia (Donnini).

Di seguito gli articoli, scritti da alcuni studenti in inglese e in italiano, su questa esperienza.

Il 1° Aprile, noi classi quinte del Liceo delle Scienze Applicate, siamo state protagoniste di una visita nel corso della storia. Siamo partiti da scuola con destinazione Trieste per andare incontro alla prima visita guidata della giornata: il Museo della Guerra per la Pace di Henriquez.

La guida che ci ha assistiti ci ha illustrato molti degli oggetti collezionati da questo misterioso personaggio, Diego De Henriquez, nel corso della sua vita; oggetti come carri funebri della Prima Guerra Mondiale, divise, diari, armi e mezzi da guerra o sostentamento del medesimo periodo storico. Henriquez era molto conosciuto all'epoca, infatti, ogni qualvolta si presentasse l'occasione di fargli aggiungere "pezzi" alla collezione, non si indugiava a farglieli avere, tutto ciò in sostegno di un futuro museo della guerra per la pace. C'erano volte in cui, per esempio, se un autocarro per il trasporto dei proiettili o un'auto blindata inglesi non venivano più utilizzate, venivano trasportate gratuitamente, dagli inglesi stessi, fino al deposito del signor Diego, a dimostrazione della sua fama internazionale. Una mostra sorprendente e molto interessante.

Dopo questa visita tra oggetti vissuti nelle trincee o in pieno combattimento aperto, siamo andati a visitare il Magazzino 18, nel Porto Vecchio di Trieste. Il magazzino si trovava in uno dei vari edifici abbandonati a se stessi e allo scorrere del tempo. Un magazzino in cui, però, il tempo si è fermato da molto e in cui sono state ammassate tutte le masserizie degli esuli, che col passare dell'Istria alla Jugoslavia, hanno dovuto abbandonare le proprie terre e le proprie case per scappare (con quel che riuscivano a portarsi via) in Italia. Qui il proprietario del magazzino, figlio di esuli e nato in un campo profughi del tempo, ci ha narrato la storia di quel periodo aspro del non lontano dopoguerra (parliamo degli anni '60) dove le persone, scappando dove e come potevano, si portavano dietro degli oggetti, anche inutili, che potessero ricordare loro la loro vera casa... Sedie, casse, giochi, vestiti, porte, libri, stoviglie, attrezzi, armadi e altri beni significativi : oggetti che davano loro la speranza di tornare un giorno nei luoghi da cui questi oggetti, nella disperazione, venivano portati via.

Il magazzino 18 non è solo un luogo di accumulo di oggetti abbandonati, è storia, è vita vissuta, sofferenza, è parte di ogni singola persona che protagonista dell'esodo, un luogo colmo di ricordi e emozioni e forse anche un po' di tensione. Dal mio punto di vista è stata un'esperienza così emozionante che rimarrà impressa in noi per molto tempo, se non per sempre. La consiglierei caldamente a chiunque stesse leggendo queste mie parole.

Emma Mansi, 5^ LSA B

Who would not like to experience at least once in a lifetime the climate of the first decades of the 20th Century and find out for himself/herself how people lived in that period, what life in the trenches was like, how soldiers behaved, how they washed, what they used at war and the risks that they had to face day after day? And what about the warfare, the weapons, the fights, the trenches, the machines and the military technological inventions? Do you want to know about how people reacted to war, what kind of propaganda the governments of the two sides of WW1 used at that time? Well, thanks to the great collection of Diego De Henriquez we could undertake a very interesting tour in the “Museo della Guerra per la pace di D. Henriquez” of Trieste, last Friday, guided by an engaging and passionate tourist guide. We were fascinated by the posters, the photos, the big and heavy cannons, the black funeral coaches and the first trucks produced by Fiat and Lancia, and many other objects that usually any collector would keep. Henriquez wasn’t like the others: he was able to speak about seven languages very well, he had very good diplomatic abilities and many acquaintances, so he had the opportunity to collect many war pieces which included even reinforced concrete blocks and technological experiments of that time. He continued to collect until his death in the 50s. He wanted people to remember the dramatic war period and sustain peace.  

After this experience, we had another one, which was just as interesting: we went to “Magazzino 18”, a building which contains the belongings of Istrian people, who had to leave their land, because it had become part of Yugoslavia after WW2. The first room we visited wasn’t so large, but it was very particular: on its walls there were lots of hanging portraits of unknown people, that were “watching you”. They have been found in the baggage of the people whose story we were going to find out. The owner of the building, who was also our guide, got us involved in the story, which firstly was set in Vergarolla (Pula), where many people from Istria were gathered and prepared to leave. But suddenly the mines, which were known to be disarmed, exploded: it is the most tragic event that happened in Italy in the aftermath of the war. The hero of the story, Geppino Micheletti, the only surgeon available, operated for 24 hours without any break until aids came. The people from Istria hurried up to leave to Trieste and then other places. But in Trieste they experienced humiliation, lack of intimacy, frustration, depression and some of them even suicide. They left lots of daily things, which are still heaped in “Magazzino 18”. We saw a big library full of books and diaries, many panels with little sculptures, spoons, table sets; there was also a sewing machine and long rows of furniture, including cupboards, doors, beds and night tables, and huge mountains of amassed chairs, the most personal thing that a person of that time had, which can be connected with his/her own identity. We were overwhelmed by all those things and their stories.

In the afternoon the classes reached the city centre and started a route about the Irish writer James Joyce, who lived for long periods of his life in Trieste while teaching in an English school. The students visited the places where he had lived in and the places he mostly frequented, such as the brothel "Metro Quadro" and two churches. This tour was guided by some readings of Joyce's description of the city and the emotions he felt towards it. 

We passed by his apartments, his favourite restaurant and the Greek-Orthodox church , where we were allowed to enter. It was almost dark, except for some little lamps; Gregorian plainchants were playing in the background and there was a good smell of incense. We also visited the short bridge, which is dedicated to Joyce, and saw the three bronze statues scattered in the center of Trieste, which portray him and his closest Italian  friend, Italo Svevo, and Umberto Saba.

The whole experience was pleasant and useful. We passed through the first half of the 20th Century increasing our knowledge about the story of the place where we live and so understanding more about the people of Friuli and about the Irish writer James Joyce.

This trip was based not only on the academic knowledge, but mostly on “living” partially but directly the past, both in its positive and negative forms, and these are the most important lessons one could ever experience.

Madalina Bura, Tommaso Piani, Elena Rossi and class 5^ LSA B.

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