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THE HISTORY - giovedì 15 novembre 2018 

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[IN VERSILIA]

The nazi-fascist slaughters in Versilia


Worried for the ever growing activities of the resistance, Kesselring, the supreme commander of the German troops in Italy, on the 17th of June 1944 gave orders in which authorised any repressive action necessary to break the partisan movement.
In fact it was vital for the Germans to arrange a defence system on the Tosco-Emiliano Apennines to protect the agricultural and industrial resources of the Padana
Valley, making it necessary to “burn ground” around the partisan groups, applying a true “strategy of terror” which, in the summer of ’44, provoked in all of Tuscany nearly 4000 victims, in greater part women, elderly and children.
The Tirrenico section of the Apennine front, called by the German Command, the Gothic Line, then later on, the Green Line (the population and allies though, continued to use the first name) from the beach at Cinquale it climbed over the hills of Strettoia to the mountains Folgorito, Carchio and Altissimo, descending through the mountainous areas of Corchia and Pania, reaching Garfagnana, a few kilometres south of Castelnuovo. To make this section of the front safe and calm – practically the territory between and including the rivers Serchio and Magra – control was assigned to the 16 Armour Division SS under General Max Simon, in which the 16 Battalion was part of, under the orders of Major Walter Reder. The Division had been appointed tasks of great strategic importance: the protection of the coast from the river mouth of the Arno to La Spezia, the surveillance of the fortification work, the search for necessary man power, the struggle with the partisan formations, which in the district had reached a considerable consistence. The X bis Brigade “Gino Lombardi” operated in Versilia, on the mountains of Massa the “Gruppo Patrioti Apuani”, and on the Carrara mountains the “Ugo Muccini” (later “Gino Menconi”), the “Lunense” in Garfagnana, the detachments of the Xl Zone in the Media Val di Serchio.
In the previous months in the Apuoversilian territory there had already been some massacres, including Mommio and Sassalbo (Fivizzano) on the 5th May ’44 with 22 victims, in Forno on the 13th June with 68 shot, in Valpromara (Camaiore) on the 30th June with 12 victims.
It was, however, with the arrival of the 16 Division SS that the situation assumed the character of tragedy: between the end of July and the middle of September ’44, Mount Pisano, Versilia, the surroundings of Massa and of Carrara, the Lunigiana, became theatre of an impressive series of horrible nazi crimes, with the collaboration of the republicans, who made themselves protagonists of a definite “march of death”.
There were many areas where the nazi fascists sowed death and destruction : Sassaia, Sant’Anna di Stazzema, Bardine San Terenzo, Valla, Vinca, Fosse del Frigido, Guadine, the Valle del Lucido, Bergiola, Pioppetti, Ostrietta and many more for a total of about 2000 dead.
Along with the places where the massacres took place some buildings became sadly famous, transformed into detention and torture centres: The Pia House of Charity and the Sacif establishment in Lucca, a sorting house for thousands of prisoners; the Palazzo Littorio in Camaiore, centre of the Black Brigade in the Lucca area; the primary school in Nozzano, became a dismal jail; the “capannone” in Nocchi, the gathering point for hostages; the Villa Henraux in Seravezza, where the SS command was established; the Caserma Dogali in Carrara, occupied by the Black Brigade of the Apuania; the Malaspina Castle, transformed into a jail for the condemned to death.



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