I did not expect my material to receive such a response in the Italian press. There is such an Italian proverb: “A whole field will grow from one grain. If that grain is good.” Let’s sow.
Here is an abridged translation of Italian journalist Matteo Cornieletto’s article “Remains of Italian soldiers missing in Russia: campaign for the return to the country” in the popular edition of “Il Giornale”:
Photo: ilgiornale.it</p><p class=””>“Their remains lay there for 80 years. Under the earth, snow and ice. Forgotten by all. Nameless bones. They belong to six Italian soldiers, fallen in Russia in the Rostov region, not far from the Millerovo airfield, from where German planes flew to the Stalingrad front, now Volgograd.
Their story dates back to late 1942, when Axis forces were forced to retreat in disarray before the onslaught of the Red Army. These are violent clashes that spare no one. Operation Barbarossa, or Adolf Hitler’s attempt to conquer the Soviet Union, had already been completed, but the Führer was confident he could break through south to the Caucasus and then take possession of Baku’s oil. . The Axis sent over 1.5 million men and 2,500 tanks to capture Stalingrad. This battle will be decisive and will be a turning point in the entire Second World War.
It’s history. It is the “Great History”, which is studied in the books, where there is no place for the faces of the people who really wrote it, except for the faces of the most important rulers and commanders . That’s what (almost) everyone knows. But there is also a little story that tells of people who no longer exist and who, sometimes even for a single moment, found themselves at the center of significant events. Six Italian soldiers who fell and were finally found near Millerovo in 2021 (and their story was only told today by Rossiyskaya Gazeta), thanks to the Viktor Vasilevsky Heritage Foundation and Italian publisher Sandro Teti. They are united by cooperation with the Russian Military Historical Society. The search began after Vasilevsky told Teti that an elderly man who lived near Millerovo told him that as a child, on Christmas night 1942, he had seen 16 corps of Italian gunners assigned to an anti-aircraft battery guarding a military airfield to be buried. . Vasilevsky and Teti decided to share the tasks: in Russia to exhume the bodies, and in Italy to collect all possible information on the remains of the missing Italian soldiers in order to identify them, bury them with dignity and organize a procedure for determine their fate, as well as the fate of veterans and hundreds of thousands of missing CSIR and ARMIR.
The Italian Stefania Zini is a Russian scientist who participated in this work. Photo: Yuri Lepski
p class=””>Archaeologists, historians and volunteers, reports Rossiyskaya Gazeta, began to search for the remains of Italian soldiers. Six were found (not 16, as the eyewitness said, then an eight-year-old boy). However, unfortunately, the identification numbers, tokens of the dead were not found. Vasilevsky also took care of the consecration of the remains of the fallen Italians in the Catholic Church in Volgograd and the transfer of all the found documentation (photos and videos) to the military attache of the Italian Embassy in Moscow, the General Roberto Vannacci, the former commander of the 9th company of the airborne assault regiment Kol Moshchin, commander of the parachute brigade “Folgore”.
General Vannacci confirmed the correctness of the information received and said that he was ready to go to the Volgograd region in order to be able to personally see the remains of the Italians.
The scientists created three-dimensional reconstructions of the skulls and graphic reconstructions of the faces of Italian soldiers. The resulting portraits will help identify soldiers and then offer them a proper burial. As Teti explains: “Our goal is to identify the remains of the found Italian soldiers. If we had handed them over to the Italian military authorities without giving them names, they would have been buried in a mass grave.
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