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29 July1933
Al kongresejo!
Nicolò La Colla
Music and sound design by Lorenzo Valdesalici

It is still whole, Cologne, when it hosted the Universala Kongreso de Esperanto at the end of July 1933. Amongst the other passionate activists of the international language is Nicolò La Colla, who arrives by train from Turin with his 8mm camera and cannot fail to film the surprising railway entrance to the city via the Hohenzollernbrücke, the bridge over the Rhine that projects directly into the apse of the Cathedral. Before meeting the conference delegates who had arrived from all over the world, La Colla turns his attention to the imposing Gothic building, the square in front of it, the nearby Heumarkt, a splendid market square with the equestrian monument to Frederick William III of Prussia. And to the passers-by: a large group of SA (Sturmabteilung), the first Nazi assault troops, and a group of kids from the Catholic youth movement, which had nothing to do with Nazism. In July 1933, the Nazi regime had only been in power for a few months and society was transforming, the social movements of the past (soon to be disbanded and persecuted) were still enduring, and new ones were growing, followers who supported and nurtured Nazism. It was the mayor of Cologne, Konrad Adenauer, who invited the Esperantists: in office since 1917, he resigned in March 1933, however, as an opponent of the regime. The group was therefore welcomed by the new burgomaster, who was aligned with Nazism. Moreover, two different and antithetical passions coexist in La Colla: fascism and Esperanto. Who knows if he will have caught the difference in expressions between the first group of Catholic kids, probably scouts, and the one he films at the end: the members of the Hitler Jugend, with dark faces and grim gazes, martial step. And who knows how many of them, twelve years later, will have found themselves traversing a labyrinth of blackened rubble, such as Cologne became after the Allied bombing raids to stop Nazism. With the bronze Frederick William III of Prussia and the railway bridge demolished, only the cathedral remained, black, towering over the landscape of ruins.