Antonio run

Progetto Finanziato dall'Unione Europea

After the second battle, the Germans awaited a new attack, the fourth. They were really tired, disheartened, at the end of their strength.... The promised exchanges and reinforcements had not been sent, weapons supplies were scarce and food rations were few and always of very poor quality... only black bread arrived. Nothing more could be found to raid the nearby farmhouses, abandoned by the peasants.

 We in the work group had also reached the end of the line. We were no longer being used for work, but were only being kept waiting for new provisions, which were not long in coming. In fact, the news arrived that we were to be transferred to Rome and once we had been put on the transports, we had to continue from there through Northern Italy towards Northern Europe, with the destination of the English Channel.

An Austrian sergeant major, named Federico, addressing me in French, told me that the order was peremptory: all of us were to be transferred to Northern Europe and in a whisper he continued: "Antonio, you will not return to Italy from the English Channel".

Moved, he promised me that he would do everything possible to let us escape, but we had to wait for the right moment, at night and during one of his guard shifts. He said to remain He advised us to inform our relatives, because they would have been forced to flee with us, so as not to become the object of harsh reprisals.... Although our families were in difficulty, with many children and elderly people in tow, they decided to wait for us. The opportune moment for escape arrived. One day, while most of the soldiers had gone to relieve themselves in the front line, Federico told us the time of the escape: during his watch, from three to eight in the morning.

We were able to notify the families, who were all ready. It was April 29, 1944.

Federico released us at three thirty in the morning, warning us that we had three hours to get as far away as possible, after which he would raise the alarm. He took me aside, near the exit gate of the farmhouse and wanted to give me a backpack full of the laundry found in the barrels, the same laundry that the other Germans had sent to Germany. He hugged me tightly and said: "Antonio, run and don't let them catch you...escape is the only chance for you to stay alive. If they catch you...they will shoot you". With tears in my eyes I ran away, I joined my family and we took the road to Piumarola heading north.

After the war, I had the chance to meet many German and Allied officers I knew at that time, both in Cassino and abroad, but I never saw Sergeant Federico again. I always remember him with gratitude and appreciation, hoping that he came out of the Calvary of Cassino unharmed.

Antonio Grazio Ferraro