War talks

04/14/2002 - 00:00 AM

  • War talks
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During the Second World War everybody's lives and daily habits changed. This included learning to live with new “accessories”, such as the gas mask worn by this clerk at Stipel, in a photograph from the Telecom Italia Archives.

In wartime the telephone served as a vital means of communication for everyone, military and civilians alike, though making a phone call was by no means a simple matter: telephone lines were strictly controlled by the military authorities and the police, and the falling purchasing power afforded by wages and salaries made telephone use increasingly expensive.

Starting in 1942, when Italy's cities came under air attack, the telephone lines and exchanges managed by Italy's five telephone concessionary companies (Stipel, Telve, Timo, Teti and Set) began to suffer serious damage. When lines were disconnected, however, it was impossible for maintenance and repairs to be guaranteed as spare parts were in short supply. The number of telephone subscribers dropped considerably in 1943, the first time that this had ever happened.

Under the Italian Social Republic (RSI), Stipel's workers, male and female, were closely monitored by the police authorities. The telephonists who connected calls at the Turin exchange were reported by the National Republican Guard (GNR) for “talk in support of partisans, and open antipathy to the Italian Social Republic.”

The Telecom Italia Archives contain documents known as the Aldo Goj collection, named after a Stipel engineer and member of the Giustizia e Libertà resistance movement in Turin, who transcribed many phone calls between the German occupiers and the RSI police.