ITALY AREA Scott #0 LA GUERRA DIMENTICATA -- Crete and the Aegean Islands - a forgotten war, 1943-1945 Stamp

Condition: LA GUERRA DIMENTICATA -- Crete and the Aegean Islands - a forgotten war, 1943-1945
Gianfranco Mattiello, Crete and the Aegean Islands - a forgotten war, 1943-1945. In ITALIAN, 362 pages (A4), perfect-bound, black and white illustrations and maps throughout. ****** The Author is a well-known postal historian who has written important books and articles on Prisoners of War in Germany during World War II, Censorship of the Third Reich, Italian POWs in Rhodes, German Concentration Camps Censorship, and much more. Published in 2006. This book sheds much light on a tragic chapter of World War II that, due to post-war political correctness, many historians have often glossed over. Collectors of World War II postal history followed the same path, simply because the subject matter required serious research on existing literature and - more importantly - on archival sources. The latter were decimated by fire and war events. Mattiello is one of a few Italian postal history scholars who was not intimidated by such a challenge. Cephalonia is only 200 miles from the Italian coast, at the mouth of the Gulf of Corinth. What happened at Cephalonia with the massacre of the Acqui Division was not the best kept secret, but there was some reluctance in gathering solid information and evidence of what actually happened after the Germans discovered that their best ally had signed an armistice with the enemy. Of the 12,000 Italian soldiers on Cephalonia, 1,250 died in combat, and 5,000 were executed by the Germans. About 4,000 who had surrendered were imprisoned and in October shipped to camps in Greece. A rather detailed account of the war crimes perpetrated on Cephalonia landed on Mussolini’s desk at Salò and was stamped “Seen by the Duce”; as would be expected, he made no protests to the Germans! Italian civilians and soldiers in the Aegean and on Cephalonia found themselves in a terrible situation stemming from the poor coordination and strategy of prime minister Pietro Badoglio - a large number of them paid with their lives for other people’s awful mistakes. Mattiello carried out massive research at the Military Archives of Freiburg; the documentation he retrieved would make serious professional historians turn pale. He had no hesitation in using such important evidence as a blueprint of his book, and he must be highly commended for this. The trial and tribulations of Italians based in Cephalonia and the Aegean Islands after the fateful 8 September 1943 are mirrored in this book. A year later the German Army left the South-West sector of Europe leaving a few garrisons in the islands who resisted and persisted until May 1945. The German Army devised a special postal service known as “Inselpost” - this aspect is thoroughly explored and will prove of great interest to both the postal history specialists and the average readers who will discover how much postal history can contribute to a greater understanding of global catastrophes like World War II. The book delves into the early Autumn 1943 developments when Germans created transit camps for Italian prisoners of war from the islands in Athens, Salonika, Belgrade, and Crete. In fact, as early as mid-September the Germans held some 40,000 Italian prisoners of war. In due course more camps mushroomed in Greece; meanwhile in the Aegean the Italian resistance was short-lived. On taking over Kos the Germans found themselves with 1,388 English and 3,245 Italian prisoners of war; on instructions issued by Hitler, the Italian commander and hundreds of officers were executed. At Leros the Germans captured 3,200 British and 5,350 Italian prisoners of war. More POWs were captured in Samos, and camps were created at Rhodes, Asguro, Afando, Damatra, Kalato and Vati. The developments on Crete are discussed in great detail with much information never investigated before. By 1944 the situation in the Balkans became even more complex and the late Summer advance of the Russian Army generated a domino effect that caused havoc on the German forces. Mattiello documents each phase of this debacle. This important book explores the postal services with the Greek islands, with major emphasis on the German Feldpost and its offspring, the Inselpost. As would be expected, the Author provides us with lots of information not available before. This highly informative book is a must have for serious collectors. [Reviewed by Giorgio Migliavacca]
Item Id #: 013107