‘It is a waiting game,’ I burst out at dinner that night. ‘What will happen to us when we return home?’ Many just shrug their shoulders. They are as downhearted as I am and we are all struggling to maintain our sanity; to know what is the truth and what is a lie.
This is tested even further when the next day, we are handed official-looking papers. It is a Declaration of Co-operation stating that we must accept this armistice. There is a place for us each to sign our name and have it witnessed. A lot of muttering ensues. ‘It might be a trick … if we sign, we could be admitting to something and then that gives them the right to punish us.’
‘Do you think so?’ My voice bursts out as this same thought has struck me. I feel bile rise in my throat and my palms are clammy.
‘You are thinking on this too much, Eugenio,’ Ronzoni’s voice rasps out as a smoke stream twirls out of his mouth from a cigarette he has just inhaled. ‘We should accept this armistice. They will not punish us. We were just doing our job, our duty. Everyone was just following orders.’
I don’t know so much. I look at him. ‘They are wanting us to state that our political affiliations have changed. That all that we stood for is just … just washed away, as if it never existed.’
‘No. They want us to accept that everything has changed and that we know that the Axis parties are defeated. You know that much is true. It means that by signing we can go home to a peaceful Italy.’
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