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The Baldenich Joke

When a trick becomes the most effective weapon.

Maybe not everyone knows that even the Belluno prison can boast a famous story of escape: that which is known to history as the Baldenich Joke when twelve partisans managed to free seventy political prisoners.

It is June 16, 1944 and all is ready for the mission, Mariano Mandolesi, known by comrades as Carlo, leads his men to the gates of the Baldenich prison, where the Germans held their prisoners and that morning inside there are sixteen policemen and ten prison guards.

Their intent is to free Milo, who would be transferred to Trento by them in a few days to be shot and all the others with him, everyday victims of torture and ill-treatment. The whole operation was to take place without a fight, without a shot, without shedding further blood.

And this happened: the Baldenich Joke begins when Carlo comes with eight companions in German uniforms saying they have four prisoners to deliver. In broken German Carlo and others are turning to the police but they ask them for their incarceration documents.

The partisans have none and they try to take time, no guard realizes who is hiding really under the German jackets and hats, and they ask: “No one who speaks Italian?” Then came the prison guard who had just finished his monitoring tour and immediately becomes blocked by Biondino, who takes the pile with the keys to the cells.

Once the prisoners were freed, and the prison guards and police jailed the handful of fugitives go on foot towards the mountains. The prison guards are able to sound the alarm only twenty minutes later when Charles and the others are already at the slopes of Mount Serva, tired but excited to be able to realize the Baldenich Joke, without even firing a shot.