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main index © Jeff Matthews entry April 2015
Frozen in Time
We wrote the item because it seemed proper to recall to the current inhabitants of this city—direct descendants of the generation that heard that song and were able to seek timely refuge from the deadly rain of fiery metal—to recall to them how many lives were saved by the siren's presence. We merely wanted to pay homage to an object that, with no official recognition, had become a monument to memory.
The other day he looked up to say hello to Parthenope (the original siren protector of the city) and—she was gone. Now, the only way to see a bit of WWII history “frozen in time” is to go down into one of the few bomb shelters you can visit—until they figure out how to squeeze a bomb shelter into a museum.
Thus, the issue is unresolved, at least to some of the correspondents who commented on Fulvio's original article. To paraphrase:
Not all of our history belongs in museums. It does nothing for our sense of the past to take that siren out of its original urban context and hide it in a display case, somewhere. It's not like protecting Michelangelo's David from the elements and moving him indoors in Florence in the 1800s. This is not a work of art; it's an air-raid siren. Put it back where it was and put an explanatory sign below it. There's your museum, right there.
And one that had not occurred to me, most interesting—and disturbing:
As opposed to the Japanese, who left that building in place in Hiroshima to remember the horrors of the past, we Italians have not yet learned to close that chapter and thus we can't even imagine such "monuments". There are, after all, still those among us who will tell you that Mussolini was a "pretty good guy"...how could we even conceive of such a monument that warns us "never again"?
photos: courtesy of Napoli Undergroundrelated item: Air Raids on Naples in WWII
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