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A bit of history
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 4:20 am    Post subject: A bit of history Reply with quote

Some little bits of history, as told to me the other day by my grand aunt Raffaella, who is now 86. I thought it could be interesting to share with you along with a couple of photos.

In 1944, after the fall of Rome, general Kesserling had to move his headquarters up north,
and with all the hundreds of cities where he could settle in, can you guess which one he choosed? Yeah, you guessed it: my hometown Laughing What a luck eh? Rolling Eyes
Of course this choice brought here a generous share of bombings, and completely upset the life of this little quiet town - and of our families.
The reason of the choice is that being a SPA town, we have a lot of hotels, so he could accommodate most of his troops;
still, hotels were not enough, and since there was a unit of Mongolian Waffen SS volounteers (I had no idea that there was such a thing
as Mongolian SS... you never stop learning in life!) that the German soldiers did not like to mix with, the Mongolians were accommodated into the houses
of those families who had one room or two to spare. My great-grandfather's family was one of them, so my relatives (my grandmother, my mother, my aunts)
had to live together with these Mongolian soldiers Shocked for all the time that they stayed here (they were sent here to make combing on the mountains to find the partisans brigades).

The main problem of course was that all the men of the family were away with the army, so there were only females, old men and children in the house, and those Mongolian soldiers
probably did not touch a woman for weeks... so every day was a day of terror for my family, in any occasion they had to live together with the Mongolians (such as at lunch or dinner).
Thanks to the intermediation of the owner of the hotel where Kesselring was staying, my great-grandfather was able to obtain that one of the German officers
did came at the house and severely instructed the Mongolians who lived into my family's house into not touching any goods or any person that was in my family's house... yet, some of the Mongolians
were not so disciplined when the German officers were not around. One of them in particular got a crush on my aunt Emma, who was 13 at the time Exclamation Shocked , he started
to always go after her, sit next to her at the table, and even asked her grandpa (my great-grandpa) to marry her! After a few days, my family had to make all kind of strategies
to prevent any contact of Emma with this guy, such as having her have her meals in advance, and pretending that she was sick in bed, until finally they sent her away from home to stay with friends.

So the Mongolian started to annoy my grand-aunt Raffaella, who was 19 at the time, not a beauty, but this did not seem to be a big problem... she was totally scared, so she started
to spend all the time in the same places where German soldiers were staying, because she saw that German officer being very hard in commanding the Mongolians,
and she thought that as long as she was in sight of a German soldier, the Mongolians would not have dared to try anything with her Laughing
In doing that, she became kind of a legend in town, because everybody was scared to death by the German soldiers (most of them were SS),
and when one appeared, everybody was running away fast as the lighting... while my aunt Raffaella instead was following them everywhere! Laughing
Also she was able to speak German with them, because she was studying at the hotel-management school so she could speak English German and French.

The building that you see in these photos, used to be a hotel, called Villa Ombrosa. This is where general Kesserling stayed with his headquarters for some weeks between July and October 1944.
Today the hotel is closed and the building is slowly decaying. It is not possible to enter, not even the garden, so I had to take the photos from the street.
Next to the hotel, you should see a wooden gate at an arched entrance. That was the entrance to the main air-raid shelter. There were three of them in town,
all built by the German troops in 3 days Exclamation . You can see that this entrance is very close to the hotel. In the following photos you see another entrance,
and you can also appreciate the amount of work that was needed to build this shelter by the height of the bricks wall made to support the hill side that was digged to build the shelter.
Although this shelter in particular was made for the German headquarters troops, they also allowed the civilian population to enter during the air raids.
There were cinema chairs inside, taken from the local cinemas. My grand-aunt Raffaella was totally scared during the bombing, so in order to take heart she used to sing German songs
that she learned at the radio, such as Ich Brauche Keine Millionen or Lili Marlene, and since she was good at singing, she became the air-raid shelter star for the German troops Laughing

I hope you liked these little stories of a time gone, sometimes when thinking about history past we tend to think of the big events
and we tend to forget that history is also made by the everyday life stories of millions of small people. Smile
Here's the photos (Distagon 1.4/35):

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 4:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Orio, i love your stories. thank you so much for taking the time to write them for us. my imagination was running at warp speed, making movies in my mind starring your family members. mongolian ss! i will go straight to google now ...


PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 4:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great story Orio, and as usual beautiful images.It is good to hear first hand accounts of what really happened.


PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 6:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Seeing the outside of such a grand old building makes you want to view the interior, pity.

Thanks for sharing the story, adds a certain dimension to these pictures!


PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 2:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I forgot a funny bit of the story. My great-grandmother was a very courageous woman. When the Mongolians arrived the first day, they brought the guns into the dining room
and they left them here and there. When she entered the room and saw the guns, she said with an imperative tone: "if you want to have lunch in this house,
you take the guns away and leave them all at the main door!" And so they did, that time, and also all the other times. Laughing


PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 2:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very interesting, hadn't heard of Mongolian SS troops. Sounds like these guys?

http://stosstruppen39-45.tripod.com/id10.html


PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 3:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

fuzzywuzzy wrote:
Very interesting, hadn't heard of Mongolian SS troops. Sounds like these guys?
http://stosstruppen39-45.tripod.com/id10.html


I don't know, my grand-aunt refers to them as "the Mongolians" and says that they were commanded by an SS officer. Here we had for sure the Waffen-SS (they camped in the market place, my mother lived in front of the market place. My aunt Gabriella, then 9 yrs old, used to go there everyday to play with their German Shepherd dogs, the SS did let her play no problem). So it's my guess that the Mongolians were Waffen SS too. I really doubt that they were regulars in German army. Mongolians were sent here to chase the partisans on the mountains, this is what they said to our family. That's all she knows I guess. She's not at all the type informed about military history. What she told me is what she lived in first person.


PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 3:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

beautiful story! and great that your 86 grand aunt have such a memory, I wish to all to live that long, and with all possible memory


PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 3:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting story Orio!
I`ve read a bit of history but I`ve never heard nor I remember of any mongolians in Waffen SS.
Germany, as far as I remember, never been in that part of the world.


PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 4:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting story Orio, thanks for sharing.


PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 4:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

poilu wrote:
beautiful story! and great that your 86 grand aunt have such a memory, I wish to all to live that long, and with all possible memory


She's a living archive especially with regards to her young age, she doesn't skip a beat. The problem is that when she starts talking, you can not stop her! Rolling Eyes Laughing

Himself wrote:

I`ve read a bit of history but I`ve never heard nor I remember of any mongolians in Waffen SS.


I will ask her if she remembers of them wearing a different uniform than Germans.
But if they weren't SS volounteers, what were they then? I don't think it's any likely that they were part of the regular German army.
For sure they were Mongolians, I heard about them from a lot of people here, not just my grand aunt.
My aunt said that they looked like the portraits of Gengis Khan and that they were really scary. Laughing


Last edited by Orio on Wed Jan 11, 2012 4:20 pm; edited 1 time in total


PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 4:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That is very interesting Orio. I have read it twice. More, more.

My uncle, a battle hardened veteran, lost his right arm in Anzio spelling ? but did not hold it against the German soldiers. He said they were doing their job the same as him and that, in his opinion, they were probable the best soldiers in the world.


PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 4:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Read that link that Fuzzy posted it.
Is exactly what I thought, Tartar and Turkestan peoples were taken as being Mongolians while in reality they were totally different tribes.


PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 4:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fabulous story, Orio! Very Happy


PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 4:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Schnauzer wrote:
That is very interesting Orio. I have read it twice. More, more.


Oh, I have lots more, from my aunts, my uncles, my parents, have you got some free hours? Laughing
Another funny bit from my grand aunt story... when the American troops arrived, the officer in charge took place in the same hotel where Kesselring did stay. The wife of the hotel owner, was also the foreign language teacher of my grand aunt, she went there every day for her lessons because the school was closed. When the American troops arrived, the teacher took all of her German books and threw them away, in fear that she could be suspected. She also instructed my grand aunt "from now on, we will have to speak only English, no German!". Laughing

Himself wrote:
Read that link that Fuzzy posted it.
Is exactly what I thought, Tartar and Turkestan peoples were taken as being Mongolians while in reality they were totally different tribes.


That's entirely possible, Sorin. For sure my relatives were not able at the time to tell one from the other.


PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 5:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

More please.............................


PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 5:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Orio wrote:

That's entirely possible, Sorin. For sure my relatives were not able at the time to tell one from the other.


They were right Orio, it`s almost impossible to differentiate a Tatar from a Mongolian unless you`re one of them.
I was pointing it out just for history's sake.


PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 6:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I asked my grand aunt about the Tatars uniform: she told me that except for a large light-coloured cloak with fur inside,
that they used to wear above the uniform, the uniform itself looked similar to the German uniform.


PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 7:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Charles Bronson was a Tatar, only one I can think of in the US. Smile


PostPosted: Thu Jan 07, 2021 4:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!