Pino Lella - EverybodyWiki Bios & Wiki

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Pino Lella

From EverybodyWiki Bios & Wiki

Giuseppe „PinoLella (* June 1 1926 in Milano) is an Italian motorist and contemporary witness of the final phase of World War II. He was the driver of General Hans Leyers and at the same time spy for the Alliance. In April 1945, he delivered Leyers to the Fifth United States Army and then became the driver of Major Frank Knebel until the end of the war.[1]


Lella grew up in Milan and when the first bombs fell there in 1943, his parents sent him safely to the Alps for Father Re's summer school, where he learned to drive.[2]

In June 1944, Lella turned 18, the age when Italians were drafted by the state into military service. He had two options: he could join one of Mussolini's fascist armies and most likely land on the Russian front or be drafted by the German army. Since Lella's aunt and uncle had connections to the Todt Organization, the Armaments and Building Department of the Third Reich, he joined and became a member of the German Army for his own safety, but against his inner conviction, and on the advice of his parents moved into the Todt Boot Camp in Modena.

Through a series of exceptional circumstances, including his wounding during an Allied bombing, Lella was returned to Milan to recover for two weeks. By chance, due to his knowledge of the French language and being able to drive a car, he became the personal driver of General Hans Leyers, the Plenipotentiary of the Reich Ministry of Armaments and War Production in Kingdom of Italy and thus the representative of the Italian sector of the Organization Todt.

As a driver of Leyers, Lella worked as a spy for the Resistenza and for the Allies. During his missions he became acquainted with the positions of tank traps, land mines, ammunition tunnels and all fortifications between Florence and Milan and watched the construction of the most important defenses of the Germans. Lella secretly documented troop movements, taking notes and photographs, and providing the Allies with his uncle's shortwave radio with the most important information.

On April 24, 1945, Lella General delivered Hans Leyers to the advancing 5th American Army under the command of Major Frank Knebel. For the following days he became Knebel's personal driver and translator.

Finally, the Americans asked him to take over a final mission and to undertake a journey over the Brenner Pass on 3 May, although this was one of the most dangerous corners of Europe at the beginning of May 1945. His mission was to bring Leyers from Italy to the Austrian border and hand him over to an American unit.[3]

Lella lives today in the very old days in the north Milan.[4]


Lella's story is the basis for Mark T. Sullivan's novel 'Beneath a scarlet sky', which generally holds to the biographical facts from Pino Lella's life between 1943 and 1945, but also consists of fiction in some parts.


  • Mark T. Sullivan: Beneath a scarlet sky ,Lake Union Publishing, 2018 ISBN 9781503943377 Search this book on Logo.png.


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