This is one of the reasons I am writing today: so that everyone may know about your sacrifice, my brothers, my thousands of brothers, who perished in that terrifying misery. But what chance do I have of receiving a more than ephemeral hearing if my voice is parched, after such treatment, and within me there is a desert?
In December 1942, 21-year-old Eugenio Corti, an officer in the Italian army, found himself, along with 30,000 Italians and 6,000 Germans, surrounded by Russians on Russian soil. To save themselves, they set out on a terrifying march through the desolate environment, where temperatures constantly hovered between -30 and -40 degrees Fahrenheit. The Italian troops were ill equipped and ill prepared for the struggle that followed. “Few Returned” is Corti’s diary of his experiences during the month it took the troops to break through the Russian line to freedom. Each day brought brutal engagements with the Russians, and there was little time to sleep or eat. Many wounded, starving, frostbitten and delirious men were left to die.