- Point of Interest
- Piazza Venezia, 12, 00187 Roma RM, Italie
Rome was the first capital to be liberated from Nazi German occupation on 4 June 1944. Rome had been declared an open city which meant that it could be captured without any fighting. This was a welcome relieve after the heavy fought campaign of Cassino.
On 11 May 1944 the Allies launched Operation Diadem which was to break through the Gustav Line and open the way to Rome. The task of achieving this goal fell to the British 8th Army (including Polish, Canadian, and South African divisions) and the U.S. 5th Army (including four French division). After several attacks the German commander Albert Kesselring decided to abandon the Gustav line defences on 25 May, opening the way for the Allied advance.
The capture of Rome was incredibly important to the Allies. It was hoped that the capture of the Italian capital might draw German troops away from France and the impending D-Day landings. Furthermore the capture of Rome would also have a tremendous propaganda value.
President Roosevelt had intimated that Rome had to be conquered by American troops. The American commander on the scene, general Clark, therefore disobeyed the orders of the British general Alexander to cut of the German line of retreat and instead ordered his troops to capture the city. As a result of this decision the German 10th Army managed to escape capture and could continue its defence of Northern Italy.
Prior to the capture of Rome, Italian forces fighting alongside the Allied armies were send to the Adriatic front so that they could not participate in the liberation of their capital. Ironically the news of the capture of Rome was overshadowed two days later by the D-Day landings in Normandy.
In 1942 Bernard Blin joined the French armistice army. He joined an artillery unit in North-Africa which, after the Allied invasion, came under American command. During the war Blin would fight in Italy, Southern France and Germany itself. In 1946 he volunteered for the war in Indo China.
Mark Clark played a leading role in the Italian Campaign (1943-1945). First he was Commander of the U.S. 5th Army, then Commander of the XV Army Group. At the age of 48 he was promoted to general, which made him the youngest four-star-General in the history of the U.S. Army.
During the Italian campaign, Crown Prince Umberto di Savoia often visited the front and on the eve of the Battle of Monte Lungo (7 December 1943) volunteered for a dangerous air reconnaissance mission. The American Commander nominated him for the Bronze Star Medal, which was not awarded for political expediency.
Recall the course of the Italian Campaign of WWII while exploring a country immensely rich in culture and history. Start your journey in Sicily, where the first Allied landings occurred in July 1943. Then walk through war cemeteries in Catania
The region of Lazio in central Italy was the scene of heavy fighting during WWII: here the battles of Monte Cassino and Anzio were fought before the Allies could capture the capital of Rome. Recall the landings of Anzio and
On 24 March 1944 German forces executed 335 Italian prisoners in the Ardeatine Caves (Fosse Ardeatine) just outside of Rome. The executions were an act of reprisal for an attack on German forces
which took place in Via Rasella, in Rome. None of the people executed were involved in the attack.
During the Roman Ghetto round-up, the Fatebenefratelli hospital hid a number of Jews before they could be loaded on trucks, forcing them in the hospital for the so-called “K syndrome”.
In the Lateran Palace, in Rome, many Italian antifascists and politicians found shelter between 1943 and 1944. After the liberation, many of these wrote the new Italian Constitution and they subsequently governed the country.
Venice Palace (Palazzo Venezia), in Rome, was the headquarters of the fascist government. Mussolini used its Globe Room (Sala del Mappamondo) as his personal office. From its balcony, Mussolini used to harangue the crowds on the most important occasions, such as 10 June 1940, when fascist Italy decided to enter the war.
The Wedekind Palace (Palazzo Wedekind) on the Colonna Square (Piazza Colonna) in Rome was the headquarters of the National Fascist Party during the period of Fascist rule in Italy. After Italy’s capitulation came the Nazi occupation during which many Italian fascists reappeared on the scene again centering around the Palazzo.
The city of Rome survived the German occupation in an atmosphere of terror, deprivation, and cold. People began to raid bakeries and delivery trucks carrying bread for the German military. The reprisal was quick: ten women were shot at the guardrail of the Ponte di ferro (Iron Bridge), also known as Ponte dell’industria (Industry Bridge).
In the aftermath of the capitulation of Italy, on 8 September 1943, Rome was left alone; the army and dozens of civilians tried to resist the German attack on Rome at Porta San Paolo, to no avail. The Germans eventually occupied the city.
One of the crucial moments for Italian history is 19 July 1943, when the Allies bombed the San Lorenzo district, speeding up the fall of Mussolini, who a week later was defeated after a vote of no-confidence by the Great Council of Fascism and arrested.