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Castaways of Kerch

by Stefano Conca Bonizzoni , Italy, 2020, 26’

Greek Premier

In Kerch, Crimea, a minority of Italian origin who came there during the 1800s struggles to have their tragedy recognized and told. These Italians in 1942 were accused of supporting the fascist regime and of collaborating with German troops during the occupation of the city. Between January 29 and 30, the Soviet soldiers began the deportation of the Italians. All community was taken on freight trains to the icy Kazakh steppes. The first wagon was dropped on the Aral Sea. At that time the inhabitants of those places called it the sea, it was the fourth-largest water reservoir in the world, supplying the entire Soviet Union with fish. In the early sixties, the Soviet Union government decided to take water from the two rivers that flowed into the lake in an attempt to irrigate the desert to grow cotton. Today the eastern lake basin is completely dried up. The fishing boats and the factories for the conservation of the fish in which also the deported Italians worked are only traces of the past. Only a few Italian survivors will return to Kerch after Stalin’s death. Russia recognized the persecutions suffered by this community only on 11 September 2017.

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