2012 November 24

Harry Sforzini Reports from Europe During WWII

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Two GIs with their tank in Italy during World War Two

                                             25 March 1945
                                             Somewhere in Germany

Dear Officers & Members:

    I am writing this letter to you through special permission of my
Commanding Officer.  It is of my own free will and my own experiences
encountered in this combat zone.  As for the truth, you can only take
my word for it.  I am only repeating what has been told to me by the
people with whom I have spoken. I have no reason for disbelieving any
of the following and from what I have seen, has only confirmed my story.
I have no special reason for writing this letter except that I feel that
some of you would like to know just what is going on and should have the
information first hand from a reliable source.

    I am now able to make known that our outfit is "Somewhere in Germany."
We have been here for same time, however due to security measures we
have not been able to announce this sooner.  There is still much that
can not be told and I have no doubt in my mind that were I to write every
-thing I have seen it would have to be written a dozen times before it
could ever pass censorship. I can not give you our present location or
any information concerning our present mission.  However today we have
been able to release the information that we are in the Third Army under
th leadership of General Patton.  Those of you who have been following
the news no doubt know of his wonderful work in this theatre of operations.

  After leaving France we entered a small country next to the German
border called Luxenbourg.  Many of you have probably never heard of it.
The people of this country are not at war officially, however the Germans
drafted the male population to work for them and later forced them into
the German Army.  If they refused as soldiers to fight for the German
cause they were ferced to work in their factories. When the Germans re-
-treated through this country they took with them everything they could
lay their hands on including thousands of head of horse and cattle, for
which the people received no compensation.  We found in Luxenbourg many
families who had fled from Germany seeking refuge.

   On the border of Germany the outer line of defense, we saw how
efficiently our Air Force and Artillery had made it possible for the
Infantry to take over and crack this wall. The cities on the border
were completely demolished.  Its almost impossible to describe this
picture.  The Germans were getting here exactly what they had done to
the cities of Belgium and France when they invaded these countries.
There were no civilians in sight and the towns were completely deserted,
with the exception of our own troops.  Our advance into Germany was very
rapid, many times we stopped at farm houses or small towns to put up for
the night.  I noticed that all the people had an abundance of food and
commodities and were living a very enjoyable life in comparison to the
people of France, Belgium and Luxenbourg.  I saw no signs of lack of
food or other needs as the Germans tried to make us belive their people
were suffering.

                               (2)

   Our rapid advance soon brought us into contact with  the enemy.
Their places of resistance was not in the open, but behind the skirts
of their own people.  They hid in the churches and in the homes, know-
-ing we would not destroy the town because of the civilians there. The
snipers hid everywhere causing casualties by firing on our men and not
knowing where the shots came from. Our job was a difficult one in re-
-moving these German soldiers from these towns. To make matters worse
on entering a town the people would put out white flags and at the same
time hide these snipers that were shooting at our men.  They did not
hesitate at firing at us without warning, however they resisted only to
the point where their own life was in danger and then came out with
their hands above their heads.  Before we could continue, every house
had to be searched from top to bottom to make certain that the towns
were completely free of these snipers.

    It was somewhat of a suprise and on the other hand a confirmation
to the stories I had heard when we found that we were not only accomp-
~lishing our mission by disposing of the enemy, but that we were at
the same time freeing a group of people who were being held for force
labor, or in short terms, "Slaves."  Every town we came into had
hundreds of them.  French, Russians, Polish and Italians.  The Polish
and Russians included women who were seized by the Germans on their
advance through these countries.  These people were made prisoners and
used by the Army or sent to Germany to work in the factories.  Thanks
to my knowledge of what little Italian I know, I acted as interpreter
for our unit.  The Italian men aging from 19 to 40 were in the Italian
Army at the time Italy capitulated.  They were asked to join the German
Army, those whs refused were sent to Germany to work. I talked with
your people frbm all parts of Italy, Piemonte, Toscana, Sicily, Padua,
Bologna, Genoa and many other places.  I had many questions to ask them,
first those of Military value of which they told all they knew.  I then
asked them many questions about themselves, and they did not hesitate
to tell their stories.  They sounded unbelievable and I would not have
believed them myself were it not for the fact that each man told the
same type of tale.  They showed me their papers of identification,
pictures of themselves as Italian soldiers, pictures of their familes
at home, wife and children.  It had been a long time since they heard
from them.  One with whom I talked was an Officer in the Italian Navy.
He showed me his picture taken at the time he was in the service of the
Italian Government. He gestured to indicate what a large stomach he
had and how healthy he had been.  You would never believe it was the
same man.  A beaten man, clothed in rags, some had shoes they had pick-
-ed up, others still had pieces of cloth wrapped around their feet.
On their backs they had what was left of their Italian uniform, still
proud that they were Italians.  All of these had their stories to tell.
They all tried to tell them at the same time and I had to quite them
so that I could listen to one at a time.  They told of how they were
forced to work in the German factories because they would not fight
for them or their cause. They received very little food and worked
long hours.  Everyday their fellow men alongside unable to carry on
would fall from weakness.  If they were sick one day they worked at
night to make up for the time lost.  If they refused to work they would
receive a beating and no food. No,the Germans would not kill them for
then they would not be of any more use..  I could go on telling you
many of their stories of their treatments, but I don't even dare mention
them.

                              (3)

     Then came the day that the American planes flew over the German
factories and dropped their bombs destroying their great factories,
that were turning out products that the Germans would use in the hope
of someday enslaving all of Europe.  Their eyes would light up with
excitement and admiration as they told of the destruction.  Our planes
would fly over first and give them a warning of what was to follow
enabling these people to escape the devastation.  How happy they were
as they saw each bomb hit its mark.  Each hit was like striking back
a blow to the enemy.

   However this did not free them.  They were sent along with the
German Armies to dig holes for their protection and to dig holes for
their deed.  To pull their equiment through the mud because the vehicles
were short of gas and the horses to weak to pull the load.  I myself
have seen hundreds of dead horses and like number of vehicles along
the roadside in their retreat.  They were weak too, they were hungry,
they were sick, but as long as life remained they were slaves.  They
showed me the marks and scars of the beatings they received.  They
needn't have told how hungry they were, the hollow of their faces showed.
Those who were strong enough managed to escape only to be captured again.
These people would never forget this abuse and beatings received.

I asked them what their intentions were now that they were free.
Almost all of them replied "Give us your uniform, give us your arms and
ammunition, we will fight with you, we will show the Germans that the
Italian people would not be their slaves."  Yes, the Germans told them
they would never return to their native land, they were born to be
slaves for the German cause.

     I could go on writing all day and still wouldn't be able to tell you
all their storeis.  I know you are wondering why I have written you this
letter.  I realize you have read the same thing on the newspapers a
thousand times.  But it wasn't true, it couldn't be true, it was prop~
-aganda.  I am an American soldier, but I am of Italian blood, and so
are your Sons who are in this fight along side of me.  We are not only
fighting a war to make America a safer place to live, but we are at the
same time freeing all these unfortunate people held here as slaves.
These poor Italian soldiers and others would no doubt have died here in
Germany without ever being able to return to their families.  I feel
proud as an American Soldier of the work we are doing and those of you
who have Sons in the conflict, should feel proud of them too. We have
liberated these people, we gave them food and what medical care they
needed.  We gave them passage to the rear away from danger.  They were
free once more to go as they pleased.  Someday they would be with their
families again.  These people will never forget what we have done for
them. Yes, they thanked us a million times, and they asked me to give
you their thanks, for it is your Sons who have risked their lives to
free them.

   I never fully realized why we were fighting this war, that is not
until we arrived here in Germany.  There is no doubt in my mind now.  I
am not going to try to make you believe all this because some of you
probably won’t anyhow.  Someday it will be retold, I will believe it for
I have seen.

                          (4)

     I ask that you please do not release any of this letter for
publication.  It is with that understanding that I am able to
tell you all this.  This message is not intended for the people
in gerneral, but is directed individually to those of you who have
people in your native land.

     All I ask in return is that you Pray for us, your Sons, that
we may soon return home to live the life we desire with the
satisfaction in mind that we have made this a better world to live
in.

                                     Sincerely yours,

Signature of Staff Sergeant Harry Sforzini

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