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I soldati di Badoglio

(Badoglio's Soldiers)

The interned Italian soldiers in Germany

     produced by Amis and Radioparole (2007) 

with the contribution of the Fondo italiano di assistenza vittime del nazismo - Legge 249/2000- managed by the Italian Jewish community

the documentary is divided in four parts
each of them of 27 minutes

 listen to 10 minutes of the beginning [mp3]

f you’d like to receive a CD copy of I soldati di Badoglio mail to 

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Through numerous direct testimonies the audio documentary "Badoglio’s Soldiers" turns back to the disgrace of those Italians arrested by the Nazis and the Fascists and deported to the Reich’s prisons and forced labour camps after September 8th of 1943.

More than 600 thousand Italians had to face this destiny: Among them all those who refused, after their arrest and during their life in the camps, to collaborate with the Nazis and the Republic of Salò by joining the Wehrmacht, the SS or the newborn army of Mussolini.

By direct order of Hitler on the same day the Republic of Salò was proclaimed the Italian soldiers were no longer considered to be war prisoners but as internati militari italiani (IMI), as interned Italian soldiers. This change of status was of political value above all. Considering the Italian soldiers as war prisoners would have meant recognizing the kingdom of the South and the government lead by Badoglio. But for Hitler the only legitimate authority in Italy was the fascist state.

The transformation in IMI had harsh practical consequences. As interned soldiers the Italians were no longer covered by the Geneva Convention. During the whole period of their imprisonment the IMIs didn’t receive help by the International Red Cross. It’s also because of this that the death rate due to hunger, cold, illness and punishment was four times higher than that of the French war prisoners.

For Hitler the deportation of the Italian soldiers was to serve first and foremost as supply of forced labour for the German industries producing for the war economy. In summer 1943 most of the Germans had been sent to the front and labour force was lacking. In the industries of the Reich already millions of forced workers were employed: above all deported civilians of the occupied Eastern territories and soldiers of the Red Army. But especially among the Soviet soldiers – identified as the last in rank of the prisoners’ social hierarchy by the Nazis – mortality was very high. Which is why Goebbels defined the Italian capitulation as a big business for Germany.

Separated from the Officers who had been detained in special prison camps (the Offizierslager) and who initially hadn’t been forced to work, the soldiers and the non-commissioned officers rapidly got assigned to the arms industries, in mines, in the iron and steel industry, in the chemical industry and also as farm workers. In this audio documentary the witnesses recall the hard living and working conditions: the 12 hour shifts, the scarce food supplies, the punishments and the mistreatments.

For the officers the obligation to work began only in Summer/Autumn 1944, after Hitler’s proclamation of the “total war”. The mobilisation campaign for the “final victory” aimed by the Führer, lead to an increase in arms production and therefore a more extensive employment of forced labour. For the officers who opposed this change of status to civilian workers punishments had been envisaged. In the documentary "Soldati di Badoglio", through the testimonies of some survivors we follow the story of a group of 370 Officers who were imprisoned in a prison and correction camp being forced to work in a factory of the Glanzstoff & Courtaulds in Cologne, after refusing forced labour several times. The Glanzstoff & Courtaulds is particularly interesting, a factory of which the British held a 50 per cent stake. But there is more: Although Cologne was one of the most destroyed cities in Germany by allied bombings after the war the factory of the Glanzstoff hadn’t been affected. The same fate resulted only for one other industry plant near the Glanzstoff, also in the hands of foreign capital, the American Ford.

As the allied troops approached in direction Cologne, the Italian Officers employed in the German-English factory were transferred into other camps and for them and all the other remaining interned soldiers the moment of liberation came closer.

But the stories of the testimonies of this disgrace do not end there. When they turned back to Italy, they were received with distrust. Their refusal to collaborate with the Nazis and fascists – for which they paid by their imprisonment, hunger, forced labour and thousands of victims - had not been sufficiently taken into account. The general lack of interest for their fate dissuaded them for several decades from telling their own stories with pride.

If you’d like to receive a CD copy of I soldati di Badoglio mail to 

  campo imi   Soldati di Badoglio

audio documentary by Andrea Giuseppini produced by Radioparole and Amis (2007)

with the contribution of the Fondo italiano di assistenza vittime del nazismo - Legge 249/2000- managed by the Italian Jewish community

With the voices of : Orlando Alesse, Antonio Bazzo, Antonio Ceseri, Augusto Costantini, Pietro Gattolin, Max Giacomini, Bruno Mardegan, Michele Montagano, Olindo Orlandi, Angelo Sambuco, Claudio Sommaruga and that of Gabriele Hammermann and Karola Fings

Special thanks to : Valter Merazzi director of the research centre Hitler’s Slaves, Anei - Associazione nazionale ex internati, Anrp - Associazione nazionale reduci dalla prigionia, Andrea Peracin, Giuseppe Trevisan, Dino Vittori and Roman Herzog.


Useful links     Schiavi di Hitler          Storia XXI secolo               Anei              Anrp

  Short bibliography in Italian  imi

Associazione nazionale ex internati (a cura di), Resistenza senz'armi. Un capitolo di storia italiana (1943-1945), Firenze 1984

Della Santa Nicola (a cura di), I Militari italiani internati dai tedeschi dopo l'8 settembre 1943, Atti del convegno di studi storici promosso dall'Associazione nazionale ex internati, Firenze 1986

Desana Paolo, I 360 di Colonia, a cura del Gruppo ufficiali internati nello Straflager di Colonia, Napoli 1987

Finati Raimondo (a cura di), Allo Straflager di Colonia, Cuneo 1990

Hammermann Gabriele, Gli internati militari in Germania 1943-1945, Bologna 2004

Labanca Nicola, Fra sterminio e sfruttamento- Militari internati e prigionieri di guerra nella Germania nazista (1939-1945), Firenze 1992

Lazzero Ricciotti, Gli schiavi di Hitler. I deportati italiani in Germania, Milano 1996

Mayda Giuseppe, Storia della deportazione dall'Italia 1943-1945, Torino 2002

Maura Sala e Valter Merazzi (a cura di), Schiavi di Hitler. L'altra resistenza. Racconti, disegni, documenti dei deportati e internati italiani 1943-1945, Como 2005

Natta Alessandro, L'altra resistenza. I militari italiani internati in Germania, Torino 1997

Orlandi Olindo, Internierter (Internato). Un bolognese nei lager di Germania e Polonia, Roma 1995

Orlanducci Enzo (a cura di), Prigionieri senza tutela, Roma 2005

Procacci G. e Bertucelli L. (a cura di), Deportazione e internamento militare in Germania. La provincia di Modena, Milano 2001

Schreiber Gerhard, I militari italiani internati nei campi di concentramento del Terzo Reich 1943-1945, Roma (Stato Maggiore dell'Esercito) 1992

Sommaruga Claudio, No! Anatomia di una resistenza, Roma 2001

 -  La Glanzstoff & Courtaulds di Colonia, Napoli 1996

Sommaruga C. e Orlandi O., Il dovere della memoria, Roma 2003

Testa Piero, Wietzendorf, Roma 1998

Trevisan Giuseppe, Stammlager XVII A, Monselice 2006