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  • Bob Puglisi


Updated: Jun 30, 2023

I’m working on a novel that is a love story set in Italy during WWII. I’m researching the Allied campaign in Italy. Here are some incredible statistics that I have found about WWII.

· Three percent of the world’s population perished in the war,

· Death tolls range from fifty-five million to more than seventy million,

· One hundred ten million served in the armed forces of the world and fought in the war,

· The U.S. lost one-third of one percent of its population,

· Poland lost sixteen percent of its population,

· Four times as many Allied citizens died than Axis citizens,

· More civilians died than soldiers in combat,

· Almost two-thirds of those killed in the war were non-combatants,

· Twelve million Soviet citizens were killed,

· Another ten million fighting Soviet men and women perished,

· Almost eight million Jews lived in Europe before Hitler’s rise,

· Approximately six million Jews were killed by the Nazis,

· The U.S. spent three hundred forty-one million dollars on the war effort,

· The Soviet Union spent as much as thirty percent of its national wealth,

· Hitler spent two hundred seventy billion on his European campaign,

· After the war in 1948, there were two million homeless German veterans.

Those are grim statistics, I’d say. And the world continues to have these conflicts. Now, the stakes are even higher, with the threat of nuclear war and world destruction constantly hanging over our heads. Now that I’ve depressed you, please accept my apologies.

While researching, I came across some information that reminded me that I would like to learn more about my Italian heritage. On my father’s side of the family, the Puglisis, my grandfather was from Messina, which is on the boot. My grandmother was from Catania on the eastern side of Sicily, close to Mt. Etna, the volcano.

My mother’s side of the family seems a little easier to trace, but I am still confused about the origins of the Maios. That was my grandfather Dominick Maio. He and my grandmother Anna Rosa (maiden name), were from southern Italy but married in New York. I always heard them say that the family was from Naples. The Naples area was more likely. Someone said Avellino, but when I looked at some of my grandparents’ documents, it said they were from Avigliano, some thirty kilometers south of Naples, and not from Avellino.

Further researching the Italian campaign, I noticed a mountain named Mt. Maio on the map. It is one hundred fifteen kilometers north of Naples. I haven’t found out if that is where my grandfather’s relatives were from. But I read the Maio’s recorded history, which goes back eleven generations to around 1573. And they were farmers. My grandmother always said that her family did farming as well.

If I’m fortunate enough to travel to Italy next year, I want to research the war in and around Naples. Along with an invasion of the boot in 1943, the main Allied offensive began on the beaches of Salerno, south of Naples. Some U.S. forces were pinned down on the beach before the ancient Greek monument at Paestum. Once I’m on the ground there, I would like to retrace the campaign from Paestum to Naples with much more research on the city of Naples, which the retreating Germans pretty much destroyed.

While there, I’d like to spend some time in Avigliano to see what I can learn about my grandparents and their town. I also want to visit Mt. Maio and find out if my grandfather has roots there. Hopefully, this project will help me discover more about my Italian heritage.

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Ted Dorff
Ted Dorff
Jun 28, 2023

Applaud your enthusiasm. Good luck! I’ve learned a lot about my Italian grandfather and ancestors through

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