Account of Nazi massacre in Italy published

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Witness statements from 1944 have been uncovered which detail the violence unleashed on residents of a north Italian village.

The accounts were taken down by Sgt Charles Edmonson, a British policeman who was determined to bring the culprits to trial.

Retelling the start of the murders, he wrote: ‘Refugees, mostly women and children, were awakened by the sound of machine gun fire.

‘The Germans knocked on the doors and ordered everyone outside.

‘As the occupants walked out they were mown down by machine gun fire, some who were uninjured by the first burst had the presence of mind to throw themselves on the ground.

‘They continued to fire at the dead and the dying until everyone lay still.’

Later in the archives, Sgt Edmonson reports on the killing of a two-year-old who had somehow survived the spray of machine gun fire.

‘German soldiers came upon a 27-month-old child who was crying in the arms of its dead mother,’ he said.

‘One of them crashed his rifle on the baby’s head. The baby then went quiet.’

At least 200 people were killed in the Fucecchio Marshes massacre.

The Germans were seeking revenge after resistance fighters from the village shot and wounded two of their soldiers.

The documents, found hidden in a house in Stoke, were copies of the 186 statements Sgt Edmonson used to convict some leading Nazi officers.

He made duplicates as he feared his evidence would be tampered with.

Historical documents expert Richard Westwood-Brookes said: ‘He wanted to make sure the truth about this massacre would always be preserved.

‘He is undoubtedly one of World War II’s secret heroes because he was so determined justice should be done.’

Sgt Edmonson died in 1985. His archive is expected to fetch £2,000 at auction in Shropshire next week.

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