Sant’Anna di Stazzema

The village of Sant’Anna di Stazzema in Tuscany, central Italy, was hit by a Nazi massacre in the course of an operation against the Italian resistance movement during the Italian Campaign of WWII. A total of 1,430 Italian civilians were killed there between July and September 1944. The memorial of the National Park of Peace and other monuments devoted to the slaughter were built in the village.

The massacre of Sant’Anna di Stazzema is part of the “strategy of terror” implemented by Kesselring, commander-in-chief of the German troops in Italy, which in the summer of 1944 caused almost 4000 victims throughout Tuscany.

Concerned about the growing activity of the resistance Kesselring issued an ordinance authorizing any repressive measure to crush the partisan movement. For the Germans it was of fundamental importance to make the western front sector of the Gothic Line safe and quiet.

At the first light of dawn on August 12, about 300 soldiers of the SS, divided into four columns, surround the area of Sant’Anna di Stazzema, a little village in the province of Lucca. The XVI armoured division “Reichsführer-SS”, was commanded by Anton Galler, a Nazi officer with experience in Dachau and in the Polish lagers, and led by Italian fascists. The violence of the Nazis overwhelmed the entire community of Sant’Anna, including many people displaced here to escape the fighting and bombing of the coast.

Within a few hours more than 500 people were massacred, mostly children, women and the elderly. They were brutally raked, beaten, locked in stables or houses and killed by machine guns and hand grenades. The buildings were then set on fire, in order to erase all traces as much as possible.

Sant’Anna di Stazzema is one of the places of the Italian civil resistance and one of the sites that best evoke in Italy the horror of the Nazi occupation and the brutality of war.

Sant’Anna di Stazzema

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