Wednesday, 18 April 1945

Pietro Cavedaghi - "Siemens Wernerwerke"


"It's mid-April. Life has become terribly hard. The bombing is getting harder and harder. At night, bombing continues for up to six hours, and you can't sleep for even an hour. The Russian cannons can be heard not far away and the Anglo-American planes help them with their deadly fire. So we hope that it really is only a matter of a few more days. You can't even leave the camp for work anymore. In the city everything is interrupted, only German soldiers are still on the trains, retreating from all fronts."

"The Russians are near Berlin. You see hundreds and hundreds of Russian machines pounding on German artillery. One squadron after another. They are constantly hammering at the German troops that have gathered in Berlin and we are here in the city and we are getting the pills [presumably bombs] that are left over from the German gentlemen on our heads. The Russians are trying to blow up all trains that arrive in the city with ammunition. In short, it is clear that we are trapped. The Russians are surrounding the town. Be brave, now it's really a matter of saving your own skin."

Pietro Cavedaghi was 19 years old when he was captured by the Wehrmacht in Pinerolo on 12 September 1943 and deported to the German Reich. First he was taken to the Luckenwalde transit camp, like thousands of other Italian prisoners, and then to Berlin. He was given the number 115.265.III.A. and was assigned to work at the Siemens-Schuckertwerke in Spandau, where he had to work under the supervision of armed guards. From his camp in Weißensee, Cavedaghi has to take the S-Bahn to work for one hour every day. In September 1944 he is transferred to a camp in Schöneweide, from where he has to walk the long way to work. Shortly before the end of the war he has to rebuild a destroyed post office building as a bricklayer at Schlesisches Tor. Cavedaghi's report on the end of the war is amazingly detailed and impressively illustrates the situation of many forced laborers in Berlin in the spring of 1945.

From the diary of Pietro Cavedaghi: "The pain and the memory. Diary of Imprisonment in Germany (1943-1945), Ital. Original: Il dolore a la sua memoria. Diario di prigionia in Germania (1943-1945,) Grafo 2005."