The war years were undoubtedly the most difficult of all.

Work continued extremely slowly and with enormous difficulty due to lack of materials and all kinds of problems, not least financial ones. Moreover, a large reinforced concrete circle needed to be laid at the foot of the Malipiero Bastion, on which the new supporting structure for the Bell - made of iron beams - was to be placed, and this task in particular dragged on for years, partly due to safety issues, and partly due to lack of materials, which were needed for the war effort. But Don Rossaro never lost heart, and embarked on a kind of pilgrimage in search of the necessary materials (vast quantities of concrete, iron bars, sand etc), at the very moment when even sourcing simple screws or plaster was problematic. As if these difficulties were not enough, it was even suggested - as it had been in November 1935 - that he donate the bronze of the Bell to the Fatherland, as he reported in his diary on 22 December 1940: "Today I received from the Superintendency of Galleries and Artworks of Venice, "bell requisitions" department, a letter from Superintendent Dr Gino Fogolari (of Rovereto extraction). He suggests that I donate the body of the Bell of the Fallen to the Fatherland, in the certainty that "those who contributed to the bronze...will applaud the knowledge that that bronze will now be used to help the war to be won" [!!!] Is it a warning? ... a reminder...? A question of survey and preparation? Some fear it is. In truth, a few days ago, two carabinieri came to ask for information about the Bell of the Fallen. Anything is possible in these momentous times.

Violence may prevail, but they will never have my agreement. I don't wish it, I can't and I must not!

I trust in the wisdom of the Government, which will - I believe - be the first to oppose this".

But a few months later matters became somewhat easier. In May 1941, Don Rossaro received an official visit from the Prefect Italo Foschi, which gave him the opportunity to make his case to the highest regional authority. "I explained [to the Prefect]", he recalls in his diary, "the expediency that the Bell of the Fallen should be ready for the end of the war. Nobody can predict how and when it will end. We're living in dark private everyone has his own views; in public everyone speaks “ad usum delphini”. The Prefect took a great interest in the Bell, promising his full support. Very soon he will go to the Duce and present my project and my prayer". And at the end of September, thanks to Prefect Foschi's interest, Don Rossaro got his own way once again. In fact, far from becoming "bronze for the Fatherland", as certain doomsayers had predicted, the Bell received help from the very highest echelons of the Government. "This evening", Don Rossaro wrote in his diary, the Podestà informed me that His Eminence the Prefect Italo Foschi has officially notified him that the Duce has made 100,000 lire available for the Bell of the Fallen. Deo Gratias!” Once this fact became known, it caused some controversy. "An excellent citizen of Rovereto", he continues, "complained to the prefect that il Duce should have given such a sum to the Bell of the Fallen:

”It would be better to spend it on firewood for the poor"

The prefect replied dryly: "Your excellence, il Duce wished it, and that's enough!" But this was in a time of war, with all its associated difficulties. This meant that money was one thing, and the possibility of sourcing construction materials quite another. The availability of metal, in particular (and for the Bell's structure a lot was needed) was rationed and regulated by the Government, in order to aid the war industry. So Don Rossaro was forced to ask the authorities for help once more. This time it was the Podestà of Rovereto himself who headed to Rome on 25 February 1942, but he returned empty-handed. "I decided I should go myself", wrote the priest at the beginning of March.... I was admitted to an audience with His Eminence Gorla, Minister of Public Works. I explained the situation of the Bell of the Fallen...then he spoke, saying he had been closely following [the Bell] ever since the first time he heard it mentioned on the radio...He added that it was a difficult time to allocate metal: the quantity needed was substantial, but the exalted aims of the Bell are above every other consideration, and that he would immediately order the allocation of the necessary metal". However, the problems were only apparently solved. Although in principle the provision of materials had been approved by Rome thanks to the intervention first of the prefect Foschi, and then of Don Rossaro himself, a series of minor obstacles remained which seemed impossible to overcome and which, in fact, prevented the work going ahead. On this matter, Don Rossaro's diary is enlightening on these days filled with enthusiasm and dejection: "27 May: After a long wait and several reminders, the metal ordered from the firm Fratelli Bruzzo-Ferriera in Bolzaneto-Genova arrived; to be precise: 17 sheets of steel... 14 July: I'm anxious about the concrete. We need 15 tonnes. It seems this will be extremely difficult. We may need to source it on the black market, in which case it will be very expensive, and not free of danger. 15 July: Approximately 1.5 tonnes of iron are needed: rods for the circle of reinforced concrete. An unexpected annoyance...Terribly difficult to find it on the market”. Here too he has recourse to the black market: “17 August: Meeting with Mr Fai, a businessman. Problems of materials for the concrete circle... 19 August: I'm examining my conscience... in other words, I'm looking at the economic situation [of the work on the Bell]. Sum 162,000 lire: Quote: 159,500. 2,500 lire left over. Not included: transport of materials, any modifications...bearings...the electric system etc etc. A clear conscience and trust in Providence. 20 August: I call Mr Fai and inform him that work on the circle is suspended for the moment. Proceed with the sure, measured steps of the Alpine guards! 2 September: the support for the castle! Work in the Bin workshop has been suspended because at the last minute they were lacking "14 metres of U-shaped iron 200 mm thick".

I telephoned right and left to try and find such a quantity: impossible!

Today I had a letter from Bologna... They can't give us the cement we asked for. So annoying! 12 September: Today work started on the ring. 22 November: Have not yet received the iron - the rods - the cement.

Considering the unfavourable weather, it's appropriate to suspend work at the castle and postpone the completion until late February..." Finally, in December, there was good news. The Ministry of War Production had allocated 2.4 tonnes of metal sheet, 2 tonnes of steel rods and 20 tonnes of cement. The joy was short-lived, however, because before taking possession of the agreed goods, there was still some time to wait, until the end of February 1943: "The metal materials arrived some days ago", writes Don Rossaro, adding: “1 March. I am tormented by bureaucracy, which blocks everything! At last there's cement! But it's not at Ceola di Riva... the management of the Railway can't make up their minds to transport it. Meanwhile time's passing, and with things in such a state, you never know!... 15 March: The news has arrived that the cement (15 tonnes) is at my disposal in Ceola di Riva. They're insisting that I collect it as soon as possible within the time period allowed for collection. 16 March: the Riva-Rovereto railway declares it has no transport available in the next month. At Ceola the risk increases. A company has offered to transport it, at a cost of 4,000 lire!!!"

In short, as the reader will realise, in this period Don Rossaro must have struggled as never before in order to bring his creation home. Partly due to the war - although this as yet was at a distance - it seemed the difficulties would never end. And while Don Rossaro bustled around in his quest for materials, it was late October 1942 before the Bini company of Rovereto - once these were obtained - completed the work on the iron frame which would hold the Bell. While awaiting the construction of the concrete ring to support it, the heavy framework was placed on four reinforced concrete bases on the Malipiero Bastion of the castle, visible from the city. This was the first sign of the future and definitive return of the Bell.

In the meantime, in a meeting of the Regency Board on 29 January 1943, it was decided that the Bell of the Fallen, while remaining a "monument of remembrance" to the Fallen of the First World War, would extend its mission to the Fallen of all wars, with a new name: "Bell of the Fallen in War". Article 1 of the Magna Charta was therefore amended, and this disposal was subsequently widened (in the meeting on 27 October 1943) to include civil casualties. Meanwhile the ring was not progressing, due to lack of materials which, although they were now available, needed somehow to be brought up to the castle, together with several hundred kilos of gravel from the river Leno to make the concrete. However, given the shortage of labour, at a certain point Don Rossaro decided to ask the army for help (as he had for the removal of the Bell in 1938), and so in the first days of April he visited the Command of the 4th Army Corps of Bolzano, where he was granted the assistance of a number of sappers for the transport of the materials (which was carried out in May). And so the fateful day of 28 July 1943 arrived: "The Bini company lifts the cross onto the top of the iron structure. The raising of the cross coincides fatally with the disasters that befall our dear cities, become piles of rubble and grim graveyards of the dead...How and when this unhappy Bell lives through the tribulations of humankind, in the tragedy of this war! Dies irae! 23:15. I'm in my study, concentrating on my Biographical Dictionary. All around, darkness and deep silence. Suddenly I hear the last words from a nearby radio: ‘...Mussolini has resigned...the King has named Badoglio as Head of the Italian Government…’ The end of an epic! But an epic of glory or infamy? An arduous sentence for posterity...! In the silence of the night the occasional distant cry is heard: ‘Mussolini has fallen!...Fascism is dead!... Long live free Italy!’ - I don't know whether it's true or a dream! I didn't sleep last night…” But this was not the end of the plot twists, because 28 June was followed by the equally famous 8 September 1943, with everything that occurred then: "9 September: 3 o'clock in the morning", notes Don Rossaro. "A great bombardment wakes the terrified citizens. The Germans are attacking the military bases. They are taken. Everything has collapsed: even honour! The Germans have prevailed and are now in command of the city. - My Alpini and Bersaglieri are prisoners in the Sports ground... - 10 September: The task of transporting gravel from the Leno to the castle is therefore halted.

The situation is tragic. Either the Bell goes up now, or after the war, who knows when and how!"

After the German occupation on 8 September 1943, the situation became even more difficult and work on the concrete ring suffered continual stoppages. One day there were no mules to transport the gravel, the next there were mules but no cart, the day after that the soldiers (this time granted by the German command) were not available, and so on. Nevertheless, despite the various problems, the ring was completed at the end of December 1943.

By now, the only remaining task was to move the Bell from its provisional position on the Alviano buttress of the city walls (where it had been since 13 August 1940) to the Malipiero Bastion, then lift it and suspend it from its iron frame. Since Don Rossaro could not find anyone in the civilian sector who could carry out the work, towards the end of January 1944 he asked for help from Captain Kaspar of the German army, commander of the Rovereto position, who became extremely interested in the Bell and promised to take the case to his commanding officer.

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