Survivors of Camp 59 is dedicated to the memory of Allied servicemen who were prisoners of war at Campo 59 in Servigliano, Italy, during World War II.
Recorded here are accounts of the experiences of the men who survived their stay at Servigliano. This site also serves as a memorial to those who perished in the camp or in their effort to escape.
This site contains many accounts of bravery of the Italians who risked their own lives to protect the escaped prisoners.
A plaque installed by the local council in 1993 at the site of the prison camp explains:
“After the Armistice of September 8, 1943, 3,000 Allied prisoners escaped through the opening they had dug on the west side of this camp. They will forever be grateful for the immediate and courageous generosity shown by the Italian people.”
Indeed, it is our hope that these kindnesses will be remembered by the servicemen’s families for generations to come.
Despite the number of prisoners recorded on the plaque, the number of escapees is generally thought to be closer to 2,000. Some escaped though the hole knocked though the brick wall at the rear of the camp, others escaped through the front gate, which was opened on the night of September 14, 1943.
According to the International Red Cross, Camp 59 was one of 52 main camps in Italy, served by 18 hospitals and a number of work camps.
Although many prisoners were transferred north to Germany after the signing of the Italian Armistice, as many as 50,000 men left the camps in an attempt to reach freedom. Some were sheltered by the poor Italian farmers—the contadini—of the Tenna Valley. Others made their way north to Switzerland or south to the Allied lines.
Copyright for stories and personal images rests with the contributors to the Survivors of Camp 59 site.