Lunedì, 24 Settembre 2018
ROME

94-year-old survivor testifies in WWII Cephalonia case

English
© ANSA

Rome, January 31 - A survivor of the massacre of
thousands of Italian soldiers on the Greek island of Cephalonia
in World War II testified in Rome Thursday in a case against
former German officer Alfred Stork.
Stork, 90, is accused of ordering the execution of "at
least 117 Italian officers" after they surrendered, according to
Rome prosecutors, who cite a 2005 confession in which he told
German prosecutors he was a member of one of the two
execution platoons.
That confession, however, is inadmissible as testimony
since a defence attorney was not present.
In the first testimony in the case on Thursday, Bruno
Bertoldi, 94, recounted that in 1943 the German soldiers "were
unfettered for 48 hours, grouping Italians together and killing
them by firing squad".
Bertoldi, who was born in Austria and lives in
German-speaking Bolzano, said he was likely allowed to live
because of his origins.
"They just kicked me and sent me away," he testified.
He is not believed to have been directly in contact with
Stork, or near the executors of the Italian officers.
That incident was just one part of a much larger massacre
which came after the 1943 armistice between Italy and the Allies
that instructed Italian troops to switch sides.
After news filtered across to the island on September 14,
1943, General Antonio Gandin told each of his men in the Acqui
division to follow his own conscience and choose between three
alternatives: fight on alongside the Germans, surrender his
weapons, or keep them and resist German attacks.
Over the next eight days, 1,300 men died in battle, 5,155
were shot after being taken prisoner, and 3,000 drowned when
a ship carrying them to Nazi concentration camps sank.
The bodies of 200 men were tossed down a well, from which
they were only recovered and sent back home a few months
before former Italian president Carlo Azeglio Ciampi's visit in
2001.
To the outrage of Italy, a German court cleared then
86-year-old former lieutenant Otmar Muhlhauser of war-crime
charges in 2006.
Deceased in 2009, he was believed to be the last survivor
of the Werhmacht regiment which carried out the massacre, and he
reportedly admitted he had personally ordered the execution of
hundreds of soldiers including General Gandin.
The incident forms the backdrop to the best-selling 1994
novel, Captain Corelli's Mandolin, which became a film in 2001
starring Nicholas Cage and Penelope Cruz.

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