Monday, April 13, 2009

Vallucciole, senza alcuna colpa. Without fault of their own.

It could have been a day just like today. April 13, 1944, early spring, blue skies, trees blooming, Good Friday. At Mulin di Bucchio three Nazis disguised as escaped American POW's were driving an unmarked car and and taking measurements for the logistics and maneuvers that would enable the Germans to prepare a line of defense against the growing number of partisans in the area and to break these partisan formations. The Gothic Line, ordered by Field Marshall Kesselring would have crossed Tuscany and Romagna in the Appenine Mountains. The Nazis believed the best way to ensure all available security was to transform the whole territory into "la terra bruciata", burnt earth. The plan was was to clean out all the villages, a mopping up or "rastrellamento" with such horrible ferocity there would be no resistance from the population.
That particular spring day they Nazis met up with some partisans who had come to the mill to stock up on flour. The partisans killed two of the Germans and the third escaped into the woods.The next day, at dawn, the tiny village of Vallucciole which sits across from the mill high up on the road was burnt to the ground in reprisal. Goering's S.S. troops came without warning and with the villagers still in bed, began systematically dragging people out of their homes, half naked, killing the women and children first using machine guns, clubs, knives, rifles. I talked to my neighbor Pasquita who was seventeen at the time and living here. She told me the babies were thrown against the wall. Everything was set on fire. The men were collected from house to house and made to carry the German munitions up to nearby Mt. Falterona. Each man was guarded by his own Nazi. There is one man who escaped and wrote a terrifying account of this march. When the mission up the mountain was finished the men were executed. From sunrise to sunset the massacre continued until at the end of the day one hundred and eight people were dead and Vallucciole was a smoldering village of ash and death.
Today most of the houses are rebuilt and have become summer homes. There is one house that has not been rebuilt which you can see in the slideshow. There is also a slide of the bread oven outside the home. I never see anybody when I go to Vallucciole. There is a man who built a house a few meters from the cemetery. He's from Stia and comes to his house to get out of town to the quiet. It is very quiet there except for a few friendly dogs that bark at Lucy in the car. The tiny cemetery tells this unforgettable story.It happened sixty five years ago on this day.

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