Traces of History – the Italian Military Internees

German-Italian Youth Meeting at the Nazi Forced Labour Documentation Centre, 02.-09.12.2018

Did you know that forced labour was an omnipresent phenomenon during Nazi time? Could you imagine that camps for forced labourers where built in the middle of the city, so everybody could see them from their windows? How is Nazi forced labour in Germany connected to the Italian resistance movement – the “Resistenza”? And what does all that have to do with us?

Despite the important role of Third Reich history and the history of fascist movements for formal education in Germany and Italy, the history of Nazi forced labour is often not included into official school curricula. In the city of Berlin alone, around 3,000 camps and accommodations for forced labourers were established between 1938 and 1945. Many of those who were forced to work in German factories, mines and in agriculture during World War II were former Italian soldiers – over 600,000 so called Italian Military Internees were taken into captivity in 1943 and transported to the German Reich by force. Since 2016 a permanent exhibition called “Between all Stools. The History of the Italian Military Internees 1943-1945” is revealing this often unknown aspect of Third Reich history at the Nazi Forced Labour Documentation Centre in Berlin-Schöneweide.

24 high school students from Italy and Germany took this as an occasion to meet in Berlin and discover this history at the historical site of a former forced labour camp. For one week the group engaged together in guided tours, workshops, research, and city exploration tours. By using the medium of radio, the participants developed their own perspective on the meaning of stigmatization, marginalization and persecution within fascist regimes. While doing their own research, conducting interviews with experts and questioning passerbys at memorial sites in Berlin the students could learn more about the role of memory and commemoration in German society and exchange their own experiences. In German-Italian teams they developed their own narrative of past and remembrance and shared their own perspectives on the meaning of history for our present times in podcasts.

This project was developed with Istoreco – Istituto per la Storia della Resistenza e della Società contemporanea and Radio CORAX. As a second part of the project we will meet again in Reggio Emilia (Italy) in spring 2019 and discover the traces of the Italian resistance movement during fascist times.

A cooperation-project by:

Nazi Forced Labour Documentation Centre Berlin

Istoreco Reggio Emilia





With participation of:

Paul-Klee-Gymnasium (Gersthofen)

Paul-Klee-Gymnasium (Gersthofen)

I.I.S.S. „Piero Gobetti“ (Scandiano)

I.I.S.S. Piero Gobetti (Scandiano)