ITALIAN MILITARY INTERNEES
Who are they
Italian Military Internees were soldiers, officers and non-commissioned officers that were captured after the armistice, both in Italy and everywhere else they had been deployed fighting alongside with the Germans.
Faced with the choice of switching to the German side and fighting in the Wehrmacht or with the SS, they refused en masse; after the Italian Social Republic was created, they refused to join that as well, choosing to keep the oath given to the King, who represented the legitimate Italian State. Because of that, they were deported to Germany.
As they were considered "Badoglian" traitors, they were deprived of the "status" of prisoners of war, and attributed that of "internees". That meant they did not have the privileges guaranteed by the international treaties like the Geneva Convention, or the protection of the International Red Cross and other humanitarian organizations. Huddled in concentration camps, they were bound to forced labor, but even suffering hunger, torture and humiliation, they still continued to oppose any form of collaboration with the Nazis.
With their repeated “no”, they paid heavily the loyalty to their country. In total they were about 700.000, most of them coming from the Royal army. More than 50.000 died in the camps, and almost as much suffered from lethal diseases contracted during the imprisonment.
“Italian friends, German friends, Russian friends, Polish friends. I met so many good people, we lived together and I cared about them”
The Carabinieri stationed in Rome, about 2000 or 2500 of them, depending on the source, were deported too, on October 7th, 1943. Others were captured in the days immediately following the armistice. Right after the armistice, according to international conventions, they stayed put and had to follow Germans orders, as they were considered a police force. Because of their work in defense of the population, Kappler defined them as unreliable, since they had also fought against the Germans the same night of the armistice, September 8th, 1943.
For all those reasons, they had to be taken care of, and that was done with the collaboration of the Italian Social Republic. On October 6th, 1943, General Casimiro Delfini, General Commander of the Royal Carabinieri, following a direct order received by Marshal Rodolfo Graziani, the Minister of Defense of the Italian Social Republic, summoned all the Carabinieri to their barracks to surrender.
They were told their families would be arrested if they disobeyed. Of the approximately six thousand carabinieri stationed in Rome, two thousand showed up and were deported to Germany the day after, where they stayed in concentration camps until the end of the war. They repeatedly refused to join both the Nazi army and the Italian Social Republic, even though they were promised they would swiftly reunite with their family. Many of those who did not show up joined the Resistance, forming the Clandestine Front of Resistance of the Carabinieri (FCRC).
Source: Museo Storico della Liberazione
"Life of IMI" Museo
the photographs of Vittorio Valli
Vittorio Vialli was an Italian paleontologist. Captured by the Germans in Istmia on September 8th 1943, he managed to take more than 400 clandestine photos as an Italian military internee, inside various concentration camps in Poland and Germany. The photographs, kept in the Museum of the Resistance in Bologna, are accompanied by the original captions and represent an extraordinarily meaningful document.View all photos