Siete quiThe Malaspina Prison
The Malaspina Prison
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.
During the war this castle, the city’s fortress, became the remand prison for both men and women. The male prison was in via Pellegrini, near the railway station, and in 1944 held more than triple the detainees in respect of its normal capacity of 200, because it was used as a staging post for transferring prisoners to the North. In June 1944 following the bombing of the railway line this practice ceased.
On the 17th July 1944 the prison was hit during the bombing, killing ten detainees. On the 18th July the wall was breached by machine gun fire and a number of prisoners escaped. During the night of the 27th and 28th July 1944 a group of partisans of the “Patrioti Apuani”, profited from the flight on the 26th July of some of the prison guards to free about 65 political detainees and 40 more took the opportunity to escape. On the 31st July 1944 there was another attempted raid by the partisans, it failed.
The prison was emptied, and the remaining 78 detainees were taken to the prison in Malaspina Castle to join the others already there. The remand prison of the castle stayed open because it was the only prison in the city. When the XVI SS Panzer-Grenadier-Division “Reichsführer SS”, retreated from Lucca and transferred North at the end of August 1944, the hostages held by the Feldgendarmerie of the Division, were transferred to the Malaspina prison, those being the men rounded up in numerous SS operations during August 1944 in the districts of Pisa and Lucca.
The Malaspina prison also held some monks and civilians captured at the beginning of September 1944 in the SS raid on Certosa di Farneta near Lucca, and other clerics and civilians suspected of collaborating with the partisans. There were massacres on the 10th of September in various districts and areas of Massa. On the 16th September 1944 before finally abandoning the city the SS emptied the prison of the remaining detainees (condemned for civil offences and the majority unable to work), and executed them along the river Frigido, burying their bodies in three bomb craters.
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