A photograph of Camp 59 shot when the camp was occupied by Allied prisoners during World War II
This photo was taken from near the main gate (perhaps from the top of a building or a sentry hut), looking southwestward through the full length of the camp.
Rows of prisoner’s barracks are to the left and right. The small, shorter buildings between the barracks are latrines.
The photo may have been taken at roll call—the time each morning when the men were lined up outdoors to be counted.
The interior of the camp as it appears today
Both of these shots are from the same southwestward perspective as the archival image above.
Another photograph taken during World War II
At right in the photo is one of several sentry huts that were positioned along the camp’s exterior wall.
In the center is a barracks for the prison guards. Beyond the barracks is a kitchen, or cucina. As there was a cucina within the camp where prisoners warmed their food, this kitchen was likely for preparation of the guards’ meals.
On the wall of the cucina is a Fascist slogan, Vincere! E vinceremo.
“Vincere! E vinceremo is a quote from Mussolini,” my friend Anne Copley explained. “There is footage of him giving this speech on 10th June 1940, when the Italians declared war.”
The full statement is:
La parola d’ordine e una sola, categorica e impegnativa per tutti. Essa già trasvola e accende i cuori dalle Alpi all’Oceano indiano: vincere! (il popolo prorompe in altissime ovazioni.) E vinceremo, per dare finalmente un lungo periodo di pace con la giustizia all’Italia, Europa, il mondo.
“The watchword is one thing only, categorical and everyone’s duty. It already lights up hearts from the Alps to the Indian Ocean: to win! (rapturous applause.) And we will win, to finally give a long period of peace with justice to Italy, Europe, the World.”
Three contemporary views of the guards’ barracks
A small building attached to the back of the barracks
The narrow space between barracks and camp wall is today a wild space filled with trees and overrun by vines
The cucina as it appears today
The cucina doorway
A street, Via Trieste, runs along the outer wall of the camp
Apples from a tree outside the camp wall
When our friend Aat van Rijn picked these apples from a tree in the wild space outside the camp wall, I could not help imagining how highly the fruit would been regarded by the malnourished, ever-hungry prisoners within the camp 70 years ago.