Maybe this is becoming a bit of a book blog, but I wanted to share with you a project that we have been working on for over a year now. And I believe that this is a very special book which means a lot to many Italians and Kiwis alike.
For 50 years after the end of the Second World War, most people in the Chianti region between Florence and Siena did not know that New Zealand forces had been the ones to liberate them from Nazi German occupation in the summer of 1944.
It took research by Stefano Fusi, then mayor of Tavarnelle (near Florence), and his New Zealand wife Jill Gabriel, to affirm that the liberators had been not Americans but soldiers of the 2nd New Zealand Division, many of whom never made it home.
Last year we were in Italy to celebrate 25 April (both Anzac Day and Italy liberation Day) in Tavarnelle, it was a wonderful and moving occasion, I have already written about it here.
The city of Tavarnelle has build a monument to the fallen soldiers, the New Zealanders' names (listed here) sit at the top, followed by the names of the Italian soldiers.
|The Tavarnelle monument to the fallen soldiers (for a full list of the NZ soldiers click here)|
Then in 2009 a book - I Giorni della Liberazione: Le truppe neozelandesi da San Donato alle porte di Firenze, was published in Italy, and tomorrow the New Zealand edition - To the Gateways of Florence: New Zealand Forces in Tuscany 1944, will be launched in Wellington. More launches in Christchurch and Auckland will follow during the next 2 weeks. Stefano and Jill, as well as the current Mayor of Tavarnelle, are here in New Zealand for the occasion, if you are interested in history, or if you are a descendant of a WWII soldier in Italy, you can find more info here.
I know that my dad, who experienced Nazi German occupation and war, would have loved this book, and I wish that he was here to see it, so I will save a copy for my children instead, because history is important.
Photo of Tavarnelle monument by Alessandra Zecchini ©