War and a Child: Trapped Between the Allied and German Forces in the Battle of Monte Cassino (BOK)
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This book is an intimate, probably unique account of a little boy's experiences from his eighth to ninth birthday during the Battle of Monte Cassino in the Second World War. It shows the immense suffering of the Italian population under the German Army through its impact on one close-knit family. The story opens with an overview of a beautiful country town south of Rome, its people, their idyllic, mutually dependent way of life and the wonderful fraternity that sadly was transformed into fear and mistrust. The main story is concerned with the horrors of the German occupation, when daily life became filled with misery, fear and resentment. It follows the struggles and suffering of the little boy's family as they, their aged grandparents and sometimes tiny children take refuge in the mountains, moving in a bitter winter season from the cattle shelters to ice-cold caves where no fire could be lit in daytime for fear of discovery, bare freezing attic rooms- even a pigsty- and surviving constant bombardments, heavy shelling and German raids while suffering the extremes of cold, hunger and terror. There are stories of courage in the face of ruthless interrogators, raids by sadistic soldiers bearing the dreaded SS insignia of the skull, treasured moments of kindness and hospitality from strangers, all forever imprinted on the child's memory. Liberated by the Allied forces at long last after being driven from town to town, the family eventually return to what is left of their homes, only to find themselves in the midst of the horrific daily tragedies caused by the explosives left concealed in the houses and countryside by the retreating German Army.