Though commanded by a real Lieutenant General, headquartered in Padua, Italy's so-called Terzo corpo designato d'Armata was a fiction - a giant cold-war bluff. It was dreamed up in the early 50s to convince Moscow that Nato's frontline was altogether more solid than was the case.In your dreams you are a four star general. Some dreams.
Successive commanders and their minuscule staffs generated mountains of paperwork to show that any commie troops breaching the Yugoslav border would have to reckon with an entire army corps, up to 300,000-strong, on the flat Venetian hinterland. Troops - most of them imaginary - were recruited and promoted, fuel was notionally stored, and ammunition supposedly distributed in perhaps the most elaborate exercise ever in Italian fantasia.
The army was disbanded in 1972 but archives and barracks the length of Italy have remained clogged with what La Stampa said was "tonnes" of paper. And none of it can be destroyed. Under Italian law, officially secret documents can only be pulped once they have been declassified. And they can only be declassified by the office or unit that created them. And, of course, this no longer exists ...
If all that is solid melts into air what does that stuff that was in the air to begin with melt into?