Ugo Brilli on his liberation and the meaning of items

Ugo Brilli

Ugo Brilli was born in 1922 and grows up in Tuscany, Italy. In May 1943, at the age of 21, he is drafted into the Italian army to complete his military service. In September of the same year, with Mussolini's deposition, Italy withdraws from the war. But Wehrmacht soldiers arrest all Italian military personnel, including Ugo Brilli. Because he, like many other Italian soldiers, refuses to continue fighting for Hitler and Mussolini's puppet state, the Wehrmacht deports him to a POW camp in Luckenwalde, Brandenburg. From there Ugo Brilli comes to Berlin as a forced laborer.

He has to clear rubble at a Siemens factory, later he works in a carpentry shop. At the beginning of his captivity, Ugo Brilli weighs 71 kg, at the end only 48 kg. Brilli is released from his status as POW in 1944, but he has to remain in Berlin as a civilian forced labourer. He is sent to a forced labor camp in Berlin-Weißensee. There, working as a kitchen helper saves his life. He survives a bomb attack on the camp in which 53 of his comrades are killed.

At the end of 1944 Brilli is relocated at the GBI camp No. 75/76 in Berlin-Schöneweide. Here, too, he works as a kitchen helper. He survives the fighting of the last days of the war hiding in the air raid shelter. When general supply collapses, Brilli decides to look for something to eat in the neighboring cellars. Shortly afterwards he is liberated by the Red Army.

In September 1945 Ugo Brilli returnes to his family in Italy, seriously ill with typhus. He gets married and has two children. Today he lives in northern Italy.

On December 9, 2019, Ugo Brilli receives the Federal Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in recognition of his contribution to a common culture of remembrance in Germany and Italy.