Ferramonti camp

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Ferramonti and the Museum of Memory

Ferramonti and the Museum of MemoryThe internment camp Ferramonti, in the municipality of Tarsia in the province of Cosenza, was the principal (in terms of numerical strength) between the many places of internment for the Jews, stateless persons, foreign enemies and Slavs, opened by the fascist regime between June and September 1940, following the entry of Italy into world War II. The camp was liberated by the British Army in September 1943, but many former internees remained in Ferramonti the following years and the camp Ferramonti was officially closed on 11 December 1945. Thus from the point of view of the chronological events of the Second World War, it has a peculiar record: it was the very first concentration camp for Jews to be released and also the last to be formally closed.

The concentration camp Ferramonti of Tarsia was built in May 1940 by the firm Parrini of Rome, which was later responsible for the maintenance of the whole camp. It, unlike the other Italian camps, was built on a model of a Nazi concentration camp: it had in fact long sheds and was very close to the railway line Sybaris-Cosenza. Inside, there were an average of over 2000 prisoners who reached a peak of 2,700 people in the 'summer of 1943. It was also the largest and most important Italian fascist concentration camp.

On its territory of about 160,000 square meters. 92 barracks stood. The monitoring carried out by a Fascist militia (locals or neighboring countries), was made from 'outside the barbed wire fence that surrounded the building, while a commissioner of public safety, a sergeant and a group of agents, guarded the inside.

Ferramonti camp, located in the valley of the crater, 6 km from the town of Tarsia, was inserted into a marshy and swampy area, so that malaria was widespread. The company Parrini was already reclaiming the area before the construction of the camp but, after all, during the period of captivity there were many prisoners who contracted malaria and died.

The camp became operation on June 20, 1940. It was between June and July of that year that one hundred Jews (men only) came to Ferramonti from many central-northern Italy cities. As the prisoners were increasing more and more they were not only Jews, but also people of various cultures, languages and traditions, so the high number and the unfavorable economic conditions created many difficulties for internees.

In the field of Ferramonti shackled internees arrived, accompanied by police or security officials and they were made to go down to the train station or at the exit of Mongrassano rail site near the entrance of the camp. Paul Salvatore, former Commissioner of Public Safety was appointed director of the camp and 10 July of the same year it was introduced a disciplinary regulations for the inmates. The latter provided that they could not get out of the barracks after the first of 7.00 and 21.00, were subjected to 3 calls a day, they could not escape from the field without a special permit; should not also involved in politics, read foreign publications, write or receive mail without the control of the boardroom; were finally banned the use of cameras, radio and playing cards.

Among the internees there were doctors, musicians, professors, many graduate and undergraduate students. In the autumn of 1940 Erich Wittenberg founded a school, directed by Hans Benda, which had been enriched with various courses and had been accompanied by a nursery.

The artistic and cultural debates were frequent in Ferramonti: culture was expressed through theatre performances, art exhibitions, sports competitions, literary competitions and conferences and was also drawn up a newspaper. The musical life was taken care of thanks to the teacher Lav Mirski, who before the war had been the conductor of the opera Osijek (Yugoslavia). Sport also had great importance and it excelled in football.They were also well attended tournaments of chess

On December 11, 1945, after a survey conducted by the prefecture of Cosenza in the premises and materials, the camp was closed. After the barracks were not guarded by a prefecture or municipality and this had resulted in looting and destruction. At the end of the 60s the area of the field was crossed by the route of the A3 Salerno - Reggio Calabria.

Today the camp of Ferramonti little remains: only a few shacks used during the war years by the management offices of the administration, no one spoke more of the Ferramonti concentration camp until the end of the '70s,when the Professor Francesco Folino did some researches on this issue, based on the testimonies of people who had experienced first hand .At the end of the 80s institutions realized the importance of this historical memory and restructured municipal funds with two cabins, creating a museum in the first and in the other a conference room that will be before a documentation center and then a library. The museum opened on 25 April 2004, it was visited by the great personalities of the world of culture and politics. The memory re-has emerged from the dark past and proposes opening of new hope and peace.

Photo Museum

Marriage in Field


Conference with survivors of the campPhoto with a survivor

Group PhotoPresentation by Francesco Catalano