Aug 27, 2021

WW2 veteran reunited with 3 siblings he saved from Nazi soldiers

WW2 veteran reunited with 3 siblings he saved from Nazi soldiers

For more than seven decades, 94-year-old World War II veteran, Martin Adler, carried a black and white photograph that showcased a rare moment of humanity during his time at war.

This particular image – that was taken in 1944 – presents us with a glimpse of a smiling, 20-year-old Martin Adler who is dressed in his military uniform and surrounded by a group of young children. 

The kids in this photo were residents of an Italian village in the town of Monterenzio, and Mr Adler is credited with saving them as his unit drove Nazi soldiers out of the village.

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Now all aged in their 80s, siblings Bruno, Mafalda and Giuliana Naldi warmly embraced Mr Adler and held his hand while they stared at the black and white photograph and recounted the story. 

In the minutes leading up to their first encounter in 1944, Mr Adler had been patrolling the village for any remaining German soldiers when he entered a home and heard a noise coming from a large wicker basket.

At this point, Mr Adler had been told that the home was empty, so he aimed his machine gun at the basket and nervously waited for the person in the basket to reveal themself.

Suddenly, an Italian woman appeared and threw herself in between the gun and the wicker basket while repeatedly yelling the word, “Bambinis! Bambinis! Bambinis!” 

“That was a real hero, the mother, not me. The mother was a real hero. Can you imagine standing yourself in front of a gun and screaming, ‘Children! No!’” Mr Adler told the local press.

The elderly veteran still trembles when recalling how close he came to making an almost fatal decision, but the three children and their mother thought of Mr Adler as a saviour who rescued the village from Nazi rule. 

The children, then aged from three to six years of age, had little comprehension of the close call, but they do have fond memories of playing with Mr Adler weeks after their first encounter and eating American chocolate as the US soldiers remained in the village for a number of weeks.

Mr Adler’s daughter, Rachelle Donley, used social media to try and track down the children from the photograph. 

Eventually, the image was spotted by an Italian journalist who helped to locate the three siblings who are now all grandparents themselves.

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