Siete quiThe Gothic Line
The Gothic Line
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 this position the partisans could observe several of the Alpine passes which wound across the Gothic Line: the Passo Cardella, the Uncini and the Pitone. The Gothic Line was a German defensive barrier from the Northern Mediterranean coast finally arriving at the Adriatic, it was renamed the Green Line after the 15th of June 1944 on Hitler’s orders, and prepared during the course of 1944. In reality we are talking about a system of fortified posts in a defensive line, from the Tyrrhenian coast behind the Green Line 1 that started at Cinquale in the administrative area of Montignoso, and crossed the Apuan Alps, touching Borgo a Mozzano. From July 1944 they prepared the Green Line 2, which started at Marina di Carrara crossing the Apuan Alps above Equi Terme and Vinca, and headed towards Castelnuovo Garfagnana.
The construction of the fortifications, obstructed by the partisans, increased the German pressure on the civilian population to guarantee the regular flow of labour to the fortification works: the constant threat of being captured and sent as forced labour had provoked the flight of the male population, which was added to the evacuation of the entire population ordered by the German occupying authorities. On the Apuan Mountains and in Lunigiana the presence of numerous groups of partisans represented an effective problem for the Germans. In protecting and intensifying the construction of this line of defense and repressing the armed and civil resistance none were as pitiless as those belonging to the XVI SS Panzer-Grenadier-Division “Reichsführer SS” XVI SS Panzer-Grenadier-Division “Reichsführer SS” who issued announcements of evacuation of the civilian population from the area behind the line (the population of Massa was ordered to abandon the city at the beginning of September 1944).
The front line was really the western part of the Gothic Line, up to April 1945: here when the final allied offensive began on the 5th of April, when the Japanese-American troops of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, left from Azzano near Seravezza with the collaboration of and guided by the partisans, retook the mountain ridges from Mount Folgorito and Carchio. Massa was liberated on the 10th of April 1945.
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