Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Massacre of the Acqui Division

Italian soldiers taken prisoner by Germans

The Massacre of the Acqui Division, also known as the Cephalonia Massacre, was the mass execution of the men of the Italian 33rd Acqui Infantry Division by the Germans on the island of Cephalonia, Greece, in September 1943, following the Italian armistice during the Second World War. About 5000 soldiers were massacred and others drowned or were otherwise murdered. The massacre provided the historical background to the novel Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, which later became a Hollywood film. It was one of the largest prisoner of war massacres of the war, along with the Katyn massacre of 22,000 Poles by (then) German ally Soviets, and one of the largest-scale German atrocities to be committed not by the Waffen-SS but by Wehrmacht troops (specifically, the 1. Gebirgs-Division, an elite formation of the Wehrmacht). The massacre started on 21 September 1943, and lasted for one week. 
The subject of the massacre was largely ignored in Italy by the press and the educational system until 1980, when the Italian President Sandro Pertini, a former partisan, unveiled the memorial in Cephalonia.

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