Open letter to Spike Lee

Open letter to Spike Lee

by Didala Ghilarducci

Translation from Italian of the original letter by Dario de Judicibus

Dear Mr. Lee, my name is Didala Ghilarducci. I am a former partisan. My husband, Chittò, was killed by the Nazis in the Versiliese mountains a few weeks after the massacre of Sant’Anna di Stazzema, in that terrible August of ’44.

I resolved to write to you because of what I read in the newspapers about the film you are shooting. It makes me feel my heart heavy as a boulder. It seems that your movie might reinforce the false argument that the massacre was accomplished because of partisan research in the village. It is an untrue argument that critics of the Resistance have always claimed to blame partisans for the massacre. Maybe you do not care of rumors about the content of the scenes taken in Sant’Anna, but they generated a painful anxiety in the men and women of the Italian Resistance.

I know that you are a great director, and that in your movies you are always able to narrate tragedies, pain and oppression that moved us and increased awareness among citizens here in Europe too. For that I am especially grateful. I fought for years for democracy, civil rights and freedom so that I feel close to whoever is fighting and complaining about injustice and oppression. Precisely for this reason I would like to be so good not just to explain, but to let you really feel in some way why any deceitfulness, any adjustment of what happened at Sant’Anna di Stazzema, is for me, for all of us, absolutely unacceptable.

You should understand that, when a whole community has experienced such a deep and traumatic grief, people develop about that event a sensitivity that is further exasperated by the pain that still burns into the flesh after sixty years. To narrate your story — a story that is important not only for your country — you chose to stop at that small square in front of the church, in Sant’Anna. It is a place that I, like others, saw in its real and unspeakable horror in 1944. The wind may have taken away the ashes of that fire towards the woods and the sea, but the anguish, the tears and the blood remain curdled there, and will remain there in time and in our consciences of men and women.

If you, gentle director, will focus on this thought, then you will understand that it is not possible to narrate a different death for that square. We cannot do it for the victims, and we cannot do it for the boys and girls of Resistance who rest in the mountains to remember us forever the horror of war and the high price of freedom. If you steal their history, then we bereaved them of the sense of their death. And this is not possible in that square. Maybe in another, one rebuilt elsewhere on the scene, but not there. I sincerily cannot imagine that in order to tell a story of rights and people we have to deny their story to other victims.

So, kind Sir, I have opened you my heart, hoping that in some way you can give us a sign that could tell us that the arduous path of civil engagement and reconciliation that we looked for and covered in these sixty years as a community and people, will not be dispersed.

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