Home > Leadership > “The Death of the Julia Division―Memoirs of an Officer” EXCERPT

“The Death of the Julia Division―Memoirs of an Officer” EXCERPT

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The Death of the Julia Division

Memoirs of an Officer

by Giacomo Fatuzzo

available in both paperback and kindle formats from amazon.com



This is my father’s book―the true story of the fairly unknown “local” war between Italy and Greece, located in time in the early days of World War II. It is the compelling, day-by-day chronicle of the personal suffering of soldiers and officers commanded to make war on an enemy whom they had no reason to hate.

It was a war of mistakes where plans were inadequate, orders were contradictory, maps were wrong, supplies were almost nonexistent, and failure was almost guaranteed. The book highlights the anguish of soldiers going to war for a cause they do not believe in, yet following orders and doing their best even though death was almost a certainty. This is a timeless story of the conflict between beliefs and duty, of moral dilemmas and choices, of conflicting priorities, and of bravery in the face of death.

My father was an Italian Army officer who fought in this little remembered war and was wounded but survived, unlike most of his men. He wrote this book, years later, based on his war diary; and it was published in Italy in 1970 with the title “Storia della <Julia> nella campagna di grecia.” Although the book had substantial sales in Italy and received several literary awards, I never read it. Why?

I was a child in Italy when this war took place, and my memories of that time are extremely unpleasant. As an adult, I did not want to be reminded of those years. I also assumed this was just another war book written by a man whom I viewed as unemotional, and uncompromising.

I WAS VERY WRONG! The book introduced me to a man I had not known―compassionate, even towards the so-called “enemy,” and driven by a sense of duty to his country and to his “Alpini.” They were his family as much as my mother and I were. Although I resented this as I was growing up, I understand and respect his feelings now.

So why did I finally read this book, and why translate it into English now? It was my daughter, Laura Maria Fatuzzo, who convinced me this book was more than just a factual, daily account of troop movements. She insisted it was a well-written and moving memoir that I needed to read. Moreover, she insisted that others, whose lives have been touched by war (Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq…), would find it equally riveting―if they could read it.

Therefore, I read the book. Laura was right. I was amazed by the literary brilliance of my father and the book’s emotional impact on me. I encouraged Laura to translate the book into English, with my support. As the story in English unfolded, my wife Carol and Laura’s husband Michael MacLaughlin became mesmerized and provided proofing and editing help.

The translation is finished, thanks to my daughter Laura, the main translator and motivator behind this work. Now the English version of my father’s book is available to those English-speaking readers who are ready to take an emotional trip into the reality of war.

Ennio Fatuzzo

Categories: Leadership
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