Torino’s house of detention, better known as ‘Le Nuove’, built by architect Giuseppe Polani in 1862-70, was also a place of resistance, non-collaboration, and solidarity.
“To me they are but people, souls have no colour”
– Father Ruggero Cipolla
The building is a double-cross pattern, a layout kept to date notwithstanding several on-going restructuring steps.
Among its host of inmates were WW1 deserters, FIAT workers arrested during the ‘red biennium’, opposers to the Fascist regime, partisans, deported convicts, Jews, and, after the Liberation, members of the just crumbled regime; in later decades, quite a gamut of deviants and trespassers like mafiosi, terrorists and tangentopolisti (bribe addicts).
After Sept. 8th 1943 (Italy’s sudden alliance overturning), the only way out of jail hardship was a deportation to the Nazi Lagers, a hard labour in Germany, the end step of a death sentence, a sudden drawing for a retaliation shooting.
As of March 30th 1944, the members of the first regional Liberation Committee were convicted in there, till their shooting at Martinetto on April 5th.
The first jail wing was run by the German occupiers themselves; on April 7th 1944, Emanuele Artom, a young Jewish partisan and political commissioner of the 5th Justice & Freedom division, died there.
Utterly helpful were Father Ruggero Cipolla, prison chaplain from Nov. 15th 1944 to Sept. 1st 1994, and Mother Superior Giuseppina De Muro, who went any length in trying to secure the inmates’ safety and who played an active role in negotiating the prisoners’ release.
Since the 1960s the jail was a compulsory place of call for a number of local activists struggling for peace and the acknowledgement of the right to military service conscientious objection.
In the 1980s the jail was replaced by the new ‘Lorusso Cotugno’ district prison, built up in the Vallette area.
Since 2001, the ‘Nessun uomo è un sola’ (‘Nobody is an island’) association has got the recovery of part of the Le Nuove compound underway, building it over into an emblematic memorial museum, in the wake of Father Ruggero’s similar staging effort started as early as 1976.
The historical museum pathway suggests the discovery of hidden places where ordinary men suffered for the assertion of a free and democratic Italy: a civil legacy of mankind not to be forgotten.
Morever an air-raid shelter casually dug out on June 19th 2010, can be visited.