TOP PHOTO: Luigi "Moro" Degli Esposti (standing center) and comrades in the Italian Cavalry, C. 1920. Photo courtesy of the Degli Esposti Family.
RIGHT PHOTO: Dante Dinelli, Italian Soldier WW I Photo courtesy of Norma Dinelli Wilson.
(For explaination of photos, please see Comments section.)
Ivano's new movie script,brought back to mind the true story of my Uncle. One that I think should be made into a movie. Here it is as I remembered it. (I'm sure some of you have a story like mine --lets hear them).
My Uncle from Rodeano Basso (Friuli) who was a CPA and a newly wed (married to my Aunt) was drafted into the Italian army in 1938. In 1940, with very little training, he and his fellow soldiers,were sent to the Russian front. (Yes, the Italians fought along side the Germans against Communist Russia). My Uncle was never seen or heard of again.
In 1946, my mother and I went to the American Red Cross on behalf of my Aunt to seek information about my missing Uncle. The answer we received was that the Russian's (at the time) were not responding to questions concerning MIA enemy soldiers.
Subsequently, the Russian's did start to release Italian prisoners of war. Problem was that they released them in the middle of Siberia, in the middle of winter -- with NO SUPPLIES of any kind. Among those released, were about 90, originally from our area in Friuli. Only six survived.
The story on how these six survived is incredible (and horrifying) in itself. Having no food to eat, the group decided to draw straws. The ones that drew the short straws,were cannibalized by the others. (Of course the 6 that finally made it back home suffered from severe depression and mental illness.)
In 1990, my cousin found out from the Italian government (after all those years), that the Russian government had finally turned over a list of prisoners and the location of their remains. Incredibly, and to our great relief, my uncle's name was on the list.
My cousin and her husband traveled to Russia in an attempt to find my Uncle's grave. The trip took about 6 hours by train from Moscow. My cousin described it as being in the middle of hell, ice cold with nothing but empty tundra before them . (The area was a mining area. The Italians prisoners worked the mines as slave labors. Of course, many died there.) My cousin did locate the grave site. Imagine the emotion she felt as she actually saw her Father's name (who she had never seen) on the grave. Truly a sad and poignant moment in her life.
AND here is the beautiful part of this story . The people of our part of Italy, sent a group back to Russia to the final resting place of my Uncle and his fellow fallen soldiers. As a memorial to these brave soldiers they built a school and church for the people who lived there. As far as I know, they still stand today as a memorial to these brave "FIGHTING FURLANS".
As incredible as this story might seem, EVERY BIT OF IT IS TRUE. ( Yes, a book has been written about this story. My Aunt sent my Mother a copy a few years ago.)
IVANO SAYS: Thanks, Reno and yes this story should be made into a movie. TURBULENT QUEST (my screenplay) does take us back to Italy during this time period. It offers a glimpse of what the Italians had to go through under Nazi ocupation.
BTW: FIGHTING FURLANS OF WW II - by Doriano Degano also appears on this Blog. to view, type in Fighting Furlans in the search block located at the upper left hand corner of the Blog and "clicca" on the spy glass. Sempre Avanti