The Italian Freedom Trail

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The Italian Freedom Trail

Post by Centauro on Fri Sep 06, 2013 6:17 pm

On September 8th 1943 around 50,000 Allied prisoners broke out of their POW camps in Italy. On the 70th anniversary Edward Stourton presents "The Italian Freedom Trails, the incredible story of the biggest mass breakout in history.

 In the recounting of the history of World War II it's often forgotten that Italy surrendered to the Allies and the Italians threw open the doors of their POW camps. For the prisoners in Italy this was a golden opportunity that amazingly they were ordered to ignore. While their Italian guards put down their rifles and in many cases left the prison camps completely, the order from London was for soldiers to wait for Allied troops to arrive so they could quickly be integrated back in to fighting units - any serviceman making a run for it would be regarded as a deserter. The vast majority of men though didn't hesitate and headed for freedom. All of those who obeyed orders were transported to Germany.

Edward Stourton joins an Anglo-Italian memorial walk in the Apennines, along the routes taken by escapers, to tell their extraordinary stories and the stories of those who helped them; stories of bravery, endurance, sacrifice and love, as Eric Newby told in his classic "Love and War in the Apennines." The series includes interviews with Wanda Newby, the woman who helped Newby while he was on the run and who eventually married him, with veterans who escaped and with Italian families who helped them. These are moving stories of individuals and of a mass escape which helped changed the course of the war and subsequent history of Italy."


Two thirty minute documentaries, I can't recommend them highly enough. bounce 

The Italian Freedom Trail Pt. 1


The Italian Freedom Trail Pt. 2

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I offer neither pay, nor quarters, nor food; I offer only hunger, thirst, forced marches, battles and death. Let him who loves his country with his heart, and not merely with his lips, follow me.

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Re: The Italian Freedom Trail

Post by Gala Placidia on Sat Sep 07, 2013 11:44 am

There are many heroic stories about those troubled times. Many families risked everything to help these men who were left in a most difficult position. I also fail to understand London's orders. Couldn't they see that the Nazis were going to send them to their concentration camps? In my opinion, they should have been told to try their best to join the Allied forces and most would have done that. Sometimes, those in command have a clouded vision!
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Re: The Italian Freedom Trail

Post by Geotherm on Sat Sep 07, 2013 6:35 pm

Many thanks for that Centauro. I listened to the 2nd part tonight, a few days after the first and it was very interesting.

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Re: The Italian Freedom Trail

Post by ghiro on Sat Sep 07, 2013 9:08 pm

I was once told that a prime reason why the Italian people looked after the escaped Allied POWs so well from September 1943 was that there were many Italian soldiers missing in Russia and that they hoped that their boys were also being protected, fed and sheltered by the locals there. 

An interesting theory.
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Re: The Italian Freedom Trail

Post by modicasa on Sun Sep 08, 2013 6:09 am

and because the Allies looked after their POWs according to the Geneva Convention.  Italians were never seen as a threat by the Allies - as it was obvious that they werent really soldiers by conviction...

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