The Resistance begins

1943

8 settembre

With a radio release released on the evening of 8 September, the armistice with the Anglo-Americans was announced to the Italians. No plan has been drawn up in the country to deal with German troops stationed in Italy and on other fronts.

The army of the Wehrmacht, together with the SS units and other substantial nuclei of political police (about 1 million soldiers), has thus the opportunity to occupy Italy within a few days. For the Italian army, abandoned by the commands of the General Staff and left without orders, the skidding begins and many soldiers find a natural refuge in the mountains, giving rise to the first «rebel bands», the first nuclei of the Resistance. The disbanded soldiers must also make a choice abroad: continue to fight alongside the Germans, surrender their weapons or resist. On 22 September 1943 the «Acqui» Division was exterminated in Kefalonia despite the surrender, after days of bloody fighting. For refusing to swear allegiance to the Third Reich, over 600,000 Italian soldiers were deported to Germany: the promises of repatriation and help to families were rejected, in exchange for joining the Italian Social Republic, Their act of civil resistance will condemn them to be exploited as a labour force in the German war industry, to starve or under the bombing of factory buildings.

Entered Rome after two days of hard fighting in Porta San Paolo, with a death toll of about 700, the Nazis declare the capital «territory in a state of war». They begin the rounding up of men to be sent to the front of Cassino or to Germany, the deportations of renegades to military or labor, the bounties on the first resistant. On 7 October 1943, more than 2,500 carabinieri were deported to Germany. October 16 is the turn of the Jews of the Rome ghetto: out of 1,024 raked and deported to Germany, including 200 children, only 16 will return from the Auschwitz camp.