This article from The Times is about the awarding of a Star of Italy medal to a brave woman who defied Nazis and saved her village. -Editor
Gabriella Ezra was 17 on the day that she saved every man in her Italian village from being shot by the Nazis.
Although now 91 and living in Brighton, East Sussex, her memory of the courage she mustered at the end of the Second World War is as vivid as ever.
Her intervention to save the lives of her father, Luigi, and 37 other men of Cappella di Scorze, near Venice, has been recognised by the Italian government,
which has inducted her into the Order of the Star of Italy.
She recalled the morning of April 28, 1945, when she confronted a German officer in charge of a firing squad and lied to him, putting her own life at
The Germans, who had occupied the country since the Italian surrender in 1943, were preparing a reprisal for an attack by Italian partisans.
Ms Ezra was fluent in German because of her childhood in Austria. "I told my mother I had to do something so I ran after the officer and pleaded with him
that these men were just farmers who cared about their fields and cows. He took me to the commandant and I begged him not to kill them, telling him again and
again these men were innocent.
"They took me outside and lined up the men with a firing squad and said: 'This woman tells me you are innocent. If she's lying I'll kill you all, her
Ms Ezra was lying. Some of the men were partisans and were carrying evidence of their loyalty to the resistance when they were arrested.
"They searched the men but they had hidden their partisan armbands in the cowshed," Ms Ezra said. "The men were led away and my father passed me his watch
and a note to my mother because he didn't think he would survive."
The commandant released the men with a warning that if there were any more attacks he would destroy the village. "Early the next morning we heard an engine
and thought the Germans had come back. But it was actually a British soldier who was there to liberate us and he just wanted someone to rustle him up some
She added: "When the British came we cried tears of joy and embraced them. It was such a relief."
To read the complete article, see:
Reward at last for the
girl who saved a village from the Nazis
Wayne Homren, Editor
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