From the top of the breathtaking panorama that Fumone (Guide of Fumone) has been offering for centuries, the remains of the Camp of Fraschette in Alatri can still be seen.
On the slopes of the beautiful Ciociarian village, in the territory of the neighbouring Alatri, remains a trace of a quite recent past: the internment camp of Fraschette is testimony and summary of half a century of, European and North African local history.
From the middle of the twentieth century, many people found that – for different reasons – they were forced to live in the barracks: each of them having been forced to leave their homes, their families and their loved ones, dragging with them their baggage of pain, and who for years then nourished the Camp.
On 1 October 1942 “Le Fraschette” of Alatri (Guide of Alatri) officially entered into operation with the aim of pursuing, through a massive transfer of population, an “ethnic reclamation”. It eventually hosted up to 5,500 internees, including many children and the elderly.
The first to populate the camp were the Anglo-Maltese residents of Libya, then began the transfer of civilians from Venezia Giulia, Slovenia, Dalmatia and Croatia. Added to these were a few hundred political prisoners.
Living conditions were most uncomfortable: food, medicines and clothing were very lacking. The internees who arrived in Fraschette brought with them the few things they had managed to gather: hand luggage taken at the last moment from their homes during the agitated roundup phases carried out by the Italian military police.
Immediately after the end of the second world war the internment camp of the Fraschette was completely rebuilt and was inhabited by new “guests”. It was in these structures that the Italian government had arranged for the identification and internment of “undesirable” refugees: common criminals and war criminals, collaborators, Ustasa (Croatian Revolutionary Movement), and many others. They were joined by exiles from the Istrian peninsula, foreigners without documents, and refugees from behind the Iron Curtain who had not been granted political refugee status.
Since the 1960’s the last part of the history of the Camp of Le Fraschette began. This is a story linked to the end of colonialism, when nations such as Egypt, Tunisia and Libya decreed nationalisation, with the consequent expulsion of European immigrants and settlers.
In this “third phase” the barracks were renovated and made more usable, ready to host, in the new refugee centre of Alatri, the Italians who were repatriated, in waves lasting a decade at least.
Since then, since this last phase ended, the camp has been abandoned to the tyranny of time, even though many people, especially the National Association of Christian Partisans, have been taking action for years to recover and protect not only the site, but also the memories of the experiences of a place that still has much to teach us.
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