Siete quiMassacre on the banks of the Frigido
Massacre on the banks of the Frigido
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.
On the 2nd September 1944 the German authorities ordered the evacuation of the entire population of Massa, before the 15th September the inhabitants had to have left the city and travelled towards Parma. The population took refuge in the countryside, in caves, in the mountains, and in the nearby quarries. On the 14th of September 1944, the SS, in the process of abandoning the city, took control of the judicial prison at Malaspina Castle, where they found 168 detainees.
On the morning of the 16th they loaded them onto a lorry and transported them to the river Frigido, by the side of the little church of San Leonardo. Assembling them on the right bank of the river in front of 3 large bomb craters, they shot them, throwing them into the holes, and covering their bodies with earth. The tally of the number of dead varies from 147 to 149, 3 detainees were saved when working for the Commandant of the detachment, the fate of those others on the prison register remains uncertain.
Those killed came from all over Italy, from Albania, Greece, Libya and Switzerland. They were almost all detainees who had been condemned for petty crimes during the war; a woman was executed, originally from Zeri, she was held in the woman’s section of the prison for having butchered a pig without paying the tax. These crimes didn’t have the motive of retaliation or anti-partisan struggle, and their explanation is found only in the racist concepts of the Nazi SS, for those who were weak, sick, considered socially useless or detained for petty crimes, they were a dead weight for the community. The instigators of this massacre were in all probability the men of the Feldgendarmerie della XVI SS Panzer-Grenadier-Division “Reichsführer SS”, who were in charge of the hostages of the division. Immediately after the liberation the bodies buried in the banks were discovered, and the holes were refilled more accurately with earth, lime and creolin.
In September 1945 some of the bodies were exhumed, however, being in a state of advanced decomposition they were reburied there. The bodies were once again exhumed in 1947, from the 27th January to the 20th March 1947 and identified thanks to the precise work of Monsignor Angelo Ricci, the prison chaplain.
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