I just read this article on CNN about an Italian village that the SS paid a visit to in 1944. Unlike the occupation depicted in the second half of Irene Nemirovsky’s Suite Francaise (set in 1941), this was worse. Much. Worse.
I can’t say that I’m surprised that this little *ahem* gem *ahem* of an event**, and many others like it, are little known outside of their areas for local history. I’m sure that there are lots of similar events that took place in wars throughout history, by both invaders and the invaded. It’s the victors razing of the local economy to break morale. It’s the lashing out of the losing side to inflict as much damage as possible before the defeat becomes official. It’s the destruction by the overrun to make life difficult for the opressors.
In this case, it was the cowardice of those about to be defeated. I don’t condone it (despise it, actually) but I am tactically aware of “why” it happened.
*My original title was going to be “Nazi’s Are Fun…” followed by “… if you’re looking for ideas and examples of bad guys for fiction.” From Hitler’s occult agenda to their quest for world domination… that’s why there are so many options for WWII Alternate History stories. Transpose the concepts and events to some other time and place, and the possibilities skyrocket.
**And I do mean that to be laden with sarcasm. Stories like this make me sad that they happened. Positive-ish stories like The King’s Speech and Defiance, of other little events that have come to light after so many years, truly are gems. The only way I see this as a “gem” is as a writer always watching for things that might trigger stories. See transposition comment above.