From Prisoners of War to Partisans tells the long-forgotten story of Allied prisoners of war who were captured by the Italians and Germans during the Mediterranean campaign in World War 2.
Whilst the Italia n soldier of World War 2 has often been portrayed as a comical figure, that was nothing funny about their treatment of POWs in Crete, North Africa and Italy. Instead most POWs faced brutality and starvation. This led many off them (who were later transferred to Germany) to consider that they were treated better in Nazi Germany than they had been in Italy.
The book follows the story of a core cast of characters from the UK, Australia, New Zealand and, South Africa through battle and into captivity, allowing their personal experiences to illustrate the day-to-day struggle to survive shared by all prisoners of war.
The story then pivots on the Italian surrender in September 1943 which resulted in around 50,000 Allied prisoners of war escaping into the countryside. Some went into hiding in Italian towns and villages, with some even taking shelter in the Vatican City. Others attempted to escape to neutral Switzerland or headed south to reach the Allied lines. However, the central focus is on the long-forgotten story of the Allied POWs who volunteered to join Italian partisan units and fought back against the Italian fascist militias and the German occupation forces. Most of those joining the partisans were inspired to fight back by the dreadful treatment they had endured whilst in captivity. In some cases, the former POWs were selected to take command of partisan units.
The text follows the POWs through the latter stages of the war to their eventual return home and covers their postwar emotions regarding their experiences.
The book covers a number of controversial themes, including: the murder of POWs by their captors; homosexuality in POW camps; the killing of collaborators by POWs; the racism shown by the Italians towards Indians and black South African soldiers; and the brutality of the partisan war in which recaptures POWs were tortured and executed. It also covers the execution of captured Italian fascists by Allied soldiers serving in partisan units.
With a cast of characters from a wide range of countries, including the UK, Australia, New Zealand, India and South Africa, the book will have a strong international appeal, in particular among the descendants of the 75,000 Allied POWs who were held in Italy.
Born in Bedford in 1965, Sean Longden first became interested in history as a child listening to his grandfather’s tales of Gallipoli. He went on to study history at the School of Slavonic and East European studies, University of London. After graduation he worked in a number of photographic archives and press agencies. During this period he worked as a picture editor, indexer and caption writer.It was working with archives of World War Two photographs that sparked his interest in the period and inspired him to write books that look beyond basic military history and into the lives of ...
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