Il Grande Vajont

Author: Maurizio Reberschak | Editor: Cierre, 2016 (1983)

“The Great Vajont” is the expression with which the engineers of the Sade called the huge dam that October 9, 1963, with the landslide of the Toc and the flooding towards the village of Longarone, caused almost 1910 victims. This volume, published in 1983 and now completely revised by the authors of the various essays, represents a general description of the problem-Vajont, from the standpoint of news, law, information, geology; but at the same time he does not exempt himself from raising a loud cry of accusation against a now forgotten massacre.

Review (by Teresa Isenburg):

The appropriate reprint of the substantial volume built by Maurizio Reberschak and his collaborators, first of all the scholars of the Belluno Historical Institute of the Resistance and of the Conteporane Age (ISBREC), in the fortieth anniversary of the Vajont and the simultaneous publication of Gianni Silei on the management administrative-territorial in the months immediately following the destruction invites to think once again not so much on the event in question (ie landslide, flood wave, dam, territorial destruction, the falcidia of more than 1900 lives occurred in six minutes the evening of October 9, 1963 in a place not particularly known of Belluno), but above all on the relationship between study, research, communication and knowledge, memory, action: in short, our work.

The first thing to think about is how it happened and it happens that after many decades we still speak of Vajont not in commemorative terms, but proposing, as an exemplary story, a laboratory, something to be transmitted from one generation to another. The underlying message is that the Vajont can not be placed in the dusty and subjective closet of family memories, it is something that accompanies the generations themselves over time and goes beyond the place where everything happened. The Vajont tells a material and symbolic history that concerns many other places and other people with similar destinies far beyond those valleys. I would say that a Vajont entry for an encyclopaedia or a dictionary should have two entries: one with a capital letter with latitude longitude, a dead landslide dam, etc. And one with the minuscule and the definition:

This specific symbolic and exemplary value that the Great Vajont has taken over the decades following the catastrophe (and that other similarly destructive facts have not acquired, not even the flood of a third of the national territory in the autumn of 1966), however, is not accidental . It is a direct and legitimate daughter of the great work of basic research and interpretation carried out by many for decades and which made it possible to transform a catastrophic and tragic event into a rigorous study object and then allowed to decode what was gathered in basic research. , asked to interpret, verify, submit to verify, transmit and tell again and again incorporating the cultural changes that are formed in the transition from one generation to another and different looks.

In particular, Maurizio Reberschak was certainly the one who, by combining the professional competence of history and tenacity, won the credibility to impose the safeguarding of documentation, accessibility and dissemination of studies, equipping the specific laboratory of experimentation, that is to collect and render usable the paper source, human (testimonies tell memories), morphological. To retrace the facts we must patiently study the many texts from which the knowledge of the risks that the construction methods of the hydroelectric system of the Great Vajont entailed, especially hydrogeological, the fragile point of the Italian territory as we know from distant times (think to the age-old denunciation of the consequences of deforestation). In conclusion,

Of course, in this case knowledge and documentation came ex post and this tells us that instead we need to know ex ante; but the work done for the Vajont indicates to what we must pay attention, as it is essential to know the medium-term places, how the local populations know and perceive the characteristics of the places themselves and their fragility. It would be good to resume the cataloging of hydrogeological cases that Vincenzo Catenacci, who died prematurely, had made for the post-war period -1990 (Descriptive memory of the geological map of Italy XLVII, 1992) or the works of Roberto Almagià, Geographical studies above landslides in Italy(Rome, Italian Geographic Society, 1907-1910, 3 vols.), Tenacious organizer of basic instruments as well as with the volumes on landslides with its still unsubstituted Monumenta Cartographica . In the historical moment we live in which basic research is considered a tinsel that the “economic bonds” do not allow to practice, the whole Vajont story tells a different and exemplary story: now the task is that this research work of base, this laboratory built by many and along different paths does not remain a prototype, a scale model, but becomes a widespread method of investigation and government of the territory.

Gianni Silei’s studio adds a mosaic tile to the area in the shadow of Mount Toc: consultation of the archive and a reflection on the short period between 1963 and 1964 in which Giovanni Pieraccini sat at the Ministry of Public Works. perhaps a hypothesis of reconstruction appeared, the fruit of a theoretical effort, which referred to a territorial territorial cropping that today we call a vast area. This approach, which had as technical reference Alberto Samonà, faced some nodes and other, not secondary, left them unresolved. In particular, the relationship between the center and local administrations (the regions were still far away, in the context of the Constitution) and the participation of the population in the decision-making process.

Allow me to propose to integrate the study of the indicated texts, which also serve as a bibliographic guide, with the readings of two essays that convey an intense perception of the meaning and experience of the anthropocentric discipline of the waters.Tests that come from the Ticino cultural world, sensible in communicating in a timely manner and together with breath the ambintal frameworks of one’s own land. The writer and poet Giovanni Orelli leads us in the solid and light form of H2O, that silent and endless snow that shocks or sounds can transform into a fast avalanche. And on the theme of snow between nature and culture you can read one of the books by Xavier de Planhol (who died in May 2016), geographer of immense knowledge and courageous, almost visionary, narrator: Eau de neige. (Flammarion, 1995). At Erminio Ferrari we are indebted to an exciting and rigorous book, the review, half a century later, of an accident at work (migratory, I would add, like Mattmark) we would say in a polite sociological language. 15 February 1966 which cost the lives of 15 Italian workers and two Ticinese firemen: the first worked to excavate the underground tunnels to channel the waters of some high valleys on the south side of the Gotthard towards a hydroelectric reservoir. They died poisoned by deadly gas accumulated in the tunnels when they reopened the tunnel gates after the mine explosion; the firemen in bringing relief. Next to the voice of widows and orphans interviewed at different times by Ferrari, we get the description, through a specific case, of the huge subterranean transformation, as well as the surface, of the hydrological system that the Alpine hydroelectric complex underwent between the end of the nineteenth century and the seventies of the twentieth century. Also striking is the procedural analogy between Vajont, the macro case, and Robiei, micro case, of deaths due to hydro-economic interests: the clients hide behind the usual phrases, a natural disgrace, not to be foreseen, it was not known. But it is enough to lift a little the veil that hides the concatenation of studies, decisions, facts so that the cold choice of taking risks in order not to reduce profits appears clear. A set of readings that perhaps helps to better understand the multifaceted unity of the water cycle intercepted by the human act. Also striking is the procedural analogy between Vajont, the macro case, and Robiei, micro case, of deaths due to hydro-economic interests: the clients hide behind the usual phrases, a natural disgrace, not to be foreseen, it was not known. But it is enough to lift a little the veil that hides the concatenation of studies, decisions, facts so that the cold choice of taking risks in order not to reduce profits appears clear. A set of readings that perhaps helps to better understand the multifaceted unity of the water cycle intercepted by the human act. Also striking is the procedural analogy between Vajont, the macro case, and Robiei, micro case, of deaths due to hydro-economic interests: the clients hide behind the usual phrases, a natural disgrace, not to be foreseen, it was not known. But it is enough to lift a little the veil that hides the concatenation of studies, decisions, facts so that the cold choice of taking risks in order not to reduce profits appears clear. A set of readings that perhaps helps to better understand the multifaceted unity of the water cycle intercepted by the human act. facts so that the cold choice to take risks in order not to reduce profits appears clear. A set of readings that perhaps helps to better understand the multifaceted unity of the water cycle intercepted by the human act. facts so that the cold choice to take risks in order not to reduce profits appears clear. A set of readings that perhaps helps to better understand the multifaceted unity of the water cycle intercepted by the human act.