The experience of travelling by bus is a key moment in school trips. The distance to be travelled is measured in that wait, in which you see out of the window what separates your home, your school, your family, everything you know, from a more or less distant destination. For Massimo Fantin, a fourth-year student at the Aldini Valeriani Industrial Technical Institute in Bologna, it is an opportunity to film his classmates joking and snoozing on the Autobrennero, towards the Austrian border. The destination of the trip is Mauthausen, the Nazi concentration camp where many Italians, anti-fascists, partisans and Jews were deported. And it is no coincidence that on their arrival the students meet a group from ANED, the national association of former deportees, with whom they participate in a commemoration at the Italian monument. Since 1949, the former camp has been a public monument: where there used to be barracks, various national memorials have gradually sprung up to remember the deportees from the different nations of Europe. But the heart of the visit lies beyond the stone portal of the fortress built by force by the prisoners: Mauthausen was created at Austria's main granite quarry. If granite and bricks were to be used in huge quantities to adapt the cities of the Reich to the new aesthetics of the regime, the manual labour in the stone quarries had the sole function of wearing down and exhausting the deportees, who were forced to climb the 'ladder of death' or thrown down the 'parachute wall' for every slightest mistake.
In the spring of 1973, the boys wandered around the former camp, looking at the places that had returned to being natural landscapes, yet 'contaminated', according to the definition found, many years after this outing, by the Austrian writer Martin Pollack. Even today, Massimo Fantin remembers how the reason for that trip was "to make the students realise a terrible past that was not even that far away at the time, but which many wanted to forget."