Siete quiThe Bombing of Massa
The Bombing of Massa
After the Armistice of 8th September 1943 armed and civil resistance developed in this war torn land as a result of the harsh German occupation and increasingly difficult living conditions. This resistance won the Province of Massa-Carrara the Medaglia d’Oro al Valor Militare (the Gold Medal for Military Valour) and the Medaglia d’Oro al Merito Civile (the Gold Medal for Civilian Merit) for the Comune di Massa (Massa’s Town Council). In memory of this the Council and the European Community have reawakened these memories.
From January 1944 Massa and the Apuan plain became the target for Anglo-American bombing. The first death was registered on the 27th of January. Five deaths in all were recorded on the 27th of May 1944.
During the month of June 1944 the aerial bombardment was intensified, combined with front line advances and increased German fortification of the Gothic Line. The city had already opened some air-raid shelters, the biggest, excavated in the rocks under the Malaspina castle in one of the most densely populated parts of the old town the Martana district, could hold more than 3000 people. It had been opened in 1943 but from September 1944 it was occupied by the German soldiers, who had issued a total civilian evacuation order before the 15th of that month. The population took refuge in the countryside, in caves, in the mountains, in the quarries then began to return to the city, even though they had been deprived of their only means of defence from the bombs which fell like rain from the sky.
The 29th of December 1944 saw the bombardment of the areas around the river Frigido (Borgo del Ponte, Capaccola, Santa Lucia, Cappuccini), during the early morning in via Galliano there were at least 18 dead, others were killed in via dei Margini, Castagnola and other nearby places, totalling around 30 victims. That same day Marina di Massa was also hit (2 were killed).
On the 8th of February Massa was bombed for the last time; this time the objective was the populated area of the old town. Homes in Piazza Aranci, the church of San Sebastiano, the district of Martana and the monument in Piazza Mercurio were all hit. There were numerous victims (without doubt more than ten). It goes without saying that not all the bombing had strategic well defined military objectives.
In total warfare terrorising the civilian population was considered a military objective to be used without scruples. It’s been calculated that the war actions (bombing, machine-gunning and shelling) in Massa killed tens of civilians. Many hundreds (over 700) were rounded up and transported to Germany by the Germans as forced labour.
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