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28 February1944
The Oath
Giuseppe Bonvicini
Music by Guglielmo Pagnozzi

Sometimes the information on the reels and the editing of sequences in a film can be misleading. In this case, the wording indicated by Giuseppe Bonvicini 'planes at Malpensa' followed by 'oath to the Italian Social Republic' led us to believe that these scenes took place at the well-known Lombardy airport. As for the dating, 29 February 1944 was reported in a testimony by an airman enlisted in the Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana (ANR) as the day of his squadron's oath at the Campoformido airport. But on closer inspection, the sequence shot at Malpensa is interrupted for a moment, the light changes almost imperceptibly, while the landscape remains similar. It was only thanks to the NRA's history experts that we were able to situate and date this film: we are in Venegono, a few kilometres from Malpensa, where the Buscaglia Group's squadron of torpedo bombers were then based. And the day is 9 February 1944, when, on the anniversary of the founding of the Roman Republic, all military personnel took the oath. Without knowing the subject of the images, they cannot fully speak, they remain mute and questioning.

There is a Luce newsreel about that day: in 'L'Italia s'è desta' the hero is Rodolfo Graziani, general, minister of the armed forces of the RSI, war criminal for Ethiopia. We see him signing the oath, kissing the flag, reviewing the soldiers, being acclaimed by the crowd, to the notes of fanfares and shouts of jubilation. Nothing could be further from the images that have resurfaced from this amateur archive. Of the 'day that will remain in memory and in history', not even the date remained in our memory.