Because so many men were to be killed and buried, German officials decided to use a web of caves accessible from Via Ardeatina in the southern part of Rome. With great speed, prisoners were transported to the caves and executed. German engineers then mined and blew up the entrances to the tunnels, creating a mass grave.
This site may be visited and is a short bus ride from the centre of Rome.
Allied forces liberated Rome in the first week of June , and German armies continued their retreat northward. As they retreated, German forces came increasingly under attack from members of the Italian Resistance, which had grown rapidly after Mussolini was deposed. In mid-June partisans killed two German soldiers and wounded a third in a club in Civitella, a town near Arezzo.
After this incident, many residents feared reprisal and so left. When no reprisal took place, residents thought that the danger was over and so returned. However, their punishment was only delayed. Early on Sunday, June 29th, German soldiers arrived in Civitella with instructions to kill all men over the age of 15 and then burn the town.
Civitella in Val di Chiana. German soldiers came to the church, where many residents had gathered, and dragged everyone out. They forced the men into groups of five and shot them; other people were killed in their homes. They then set the village on fire. In the nearby hamlet of Bucine, the Germans rounded up and questioned local men to discover what they knew about the partisans. Around 3pm, the Germans executed 40 men in the basement of a house, and then set fire to that building and the rest of the village.
The Sicilian Campaign
Altogether it's estimated that people were killed, the majority in Civitella, where there are numerous memorials. For example, within the church a painting depicts an angel comforting the women whose fathers, husbands, and sons were executed. Outside the church are several other works, including a bronze frieze that portrays the massacre, and a plaque with a poem by Franco Antonicelli, an anti-Fascist writer. Malta may be a small island but size can be deceiving.
. . . to Those Who Served
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The Fosse Ardeatine memorial outside Rome. As Italy commemorates the 75th anniversary of its wartime surrender, signed on September 3rd and made public five days later, researcher Anne Saunders tells the stories behind some of the most evocative World War II sites you can visit today. Get notified about breaking news on The Local.
Invasion of Sicily and Italy's Surrender | World War II Database
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SICILY AND THE SURRENDER OF ITALY
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