These memories, handwritten by Elmo Cermaria (Nonno Peppe) for his grandson Checco (Francesco Nicolini), tell of when, as a young man of 20, he found himself hurled into the inferno of the First World War.
In those days, you could cry your heart out for a bread roll denied, then miraculously regained thanks to the compassion of a German soldier, “the hated enemy”.
These recollections are terse, without a trace of rhetoric and devoid of recriminations.
Nonno Peppe tells the facts just as he experienced them first hand, without expressing any condemnation of those responsible for them, even though an awareness of the large-scale massacre he witnessed transpires from his account.
When Nonno Peppe delivered the manuscript to his grandson on his wedding day, he asked him to make a promise: “Let the President of the Republic know what we did for Italy.”
A hundred years ago, whole generations of young Italian men were stripped of human honor and dignity.
Only a few of these young men would live on and become our grandfathers; and only a few of us would be fortunate enough to become “grandchildren of the Great War” and bear witness to their ordeal.