It was one of the most notorious atrocities of World War II – and inspired the bestseller Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.
8 September 1943 proved to be a fateful day for the Acqui Division, part of the predominantly Italian force occupying Cefalonia: it was the day the Allies concluded an armistice with Italy. Confusion now reigned between the Italian and German troops stationed on the island. The Italians longed to return peacefully to their homeland, but the Germans – now their enemies – feared that the Italians might use their munitions in a hostile act. As Nazi reinforcements invaded the island, the Italian troops did something extraordinary. Following a democratic referendum involving soldiers of all ranks, rather than surrender to the Germans they elected to fight.
Their stance culminated with the siege of Argostoli. The Italians bravely held out, but the Germans prevailed. Now regarding their former allies as traitors, they inflicted a terrible reprisal on the Italians in a bloody, week-long massacre. Louis de Bernières’ reflected this atrocity in his novel Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, which was brought to the big screen in 2001in an adaptation starring Nicolas Cage and Penélope Cruz.
Winner of the prestigious Magnolia Award for Best TV Film at the 2006 Shanghai International TV Festival, Cefalonia is scripted by Sandro Petraglia and Stefano Rulli (Romanzo Criminale, The Best of Youth) and directed by Riccardo Milani (The Soul’s Place).
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