- Point of Interest
- Via Rasella, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy
On 23 March 1944, in Via Rasella, in the centre of Rome, a bomb by GAP (Patriotic Action Group) partisans killed 33 Nazis. As a reprisal, the German command ordered the shooting of ten Italians for every German killed.
A group of German policemen, the Bozen SS battalion, marched on the streets of Rome city centre every day, to show the German presence and intimidate the Roman citizens. A bomb placed in a garbage cart exploded as the soldiers walked on Via Rasella, coming from Via del Traforo. The sound of the explosion shook the city; the Germans opened fire at the houses and the palaces, as four partisans threw bombs at the rear of the brigade. 32 German soldiers were killed, and another one died during the night.
The partisan attack angered Hitler so much that he ordered “an immediate reprisal to shake the world”, asking Kesselring, supreme commander of the German forces in Italy, to destroy the whole neighbourhood and to kill from 30 to 50 Italians for every killed German. Later that day, it was decided to execute 10 Italians per killed German. The reprisal took place on the following day at the Ardeatine Caves.
Today, no plaque remembers the Via Rasella attack, in some aspects a crucial event for the history of the occupation and for the fight to liberate Italy. Some houses and a palace, at the crossing with Via del Boccaccio, still have plenty of bullet holes on their façades, reminding of the panic of the German soldiers, who opened fire all around, unable to understand where the attack came from and what was happening.
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
The Museum of the Liberation in Via Tasso, Rome, is the symbolic place of the Nazi occupation of the Italian capital. The museum occupies an entire building which was used as a prison by the Sicherheitspolizei, the Nazi Security Police
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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).
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.
In October 1943, the Nazis deported over 1.000 Jews from the former Jewish Ghetto in Rome. The Roman Ghetto had a long history that stretched back for many centuries.
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.
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.
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”.