History: Padulesi in World War I, Samuel Limongelli and Giovanni Rosato

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Authors Samuel Limongelli and Giovanni Rosato have written a book about young men from Paduli who were killed during the First World War. The title of the book is I Ragazzi Padulesi nella Grande Guerra.(Young Men from Paduli in the Great War) The cover contains a drawing by Mimmo Paladino, Paduli’s resident sculptor of worldwide fame. The book, written in Italian, is 133 pages long. It contains sections devoted to each of the young men who died as well as images of each of them and of their service documents that include where and when they were inducted, the units to which they were assigned, and where and when they died. The book also contains a list of Padulesi in America who joined the U.S. Armed Forces.

Paduli sent more than 160 young men to the front. Fifty-seven of them were killed! Four brothers from the Lombardi family, Nicola, Francesco, Antonio, and Rocco went to the front. Only Rocco survived!

An interesting aspect of the book is that the first twenty pages are devoted to the severe punishments meted out to Italian soldiers who disobeyed rules and orders, including executions by firing squads, summary executions in the field, and even the practice of decimation – that is, selecting every tenth man for execution regardless of whether they personally were disobedient or not. These punishments were encouraged by General Luigi Cadorna who regarded them as good for instilling obedience. More than 4,000 soldiers were condemned to death, of which over 1,100 were executed. The Italian government in the past few years has taken steps to repeal the sentences of 750 soldiers who were unjustly executed for minor acts of disobedience and to restore their honor.

Alexander DeAngelis

April 18, 2018

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