Saturday, January 13, 2007




Ruins of the Church at Casaglia di Monte Sole where one of the massacres took place

Memorial to the five priests who died

Trial at La Spezia :accused were tried in absentia

Anyone who has ever visited the city of Bologna may probably recall the name of Marzabotto.

In the middle of Bologna, in a prominent place, there is a large memorial to the victims killed at or around Marzabotto (a town about 20 miles from Bologna) during the Second World War.

From 29th September until 5th October 1944, a battalion of the German SS (the 16th SS-Freiwilligen-Panzergrenadier-Division Reichsführer) as a reprisal for the death of a number of German soldiers massacred 955 civilians in Marzabotto: including women, children and the old.

Many buildings were razed to the ground. Churches were not spared.

In the area including Monte Sole, the total number of victims was 1830.

Five were priests. All are servants of God and their causes are being processed by the Archdiocese for beatification

In 1951, the commander of the Division, Walter Reder, was successfully prosecuted and sentenced to a term of imprisonment. He was released a number of years before his death.

The 16. SS-Panzergrenadier-Division Reichsführer-SS, Himler's personal division, had a long history of war crimes beginning in Poland in 1939. There is a good account of the Division and the attrocities on the BBC website The War Ends in Italy, 2nd May 1945 by Ron Goldstein.

In 1998, the 54th anniversary of the massacre, the German President Johannes Rau, made a formal apology to Italy. He expressed his 'profound sorrow and shame' to the families of the victims of Marzabotto.

Now 62 years after the event, a military court in La Spezia has convicted in absentia 10 of the soldiers involved. Their ages range from 81 to 87 years. Seven of those tried have been found not guilty of the charges brought against them. Those found guilty were sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment.
See: the Italian sites of Quotidiano and La Stampa.


English speaking sites about the massacres:

Italian speaking sites about the massacres:

About Italian priests and religious in the Archdiocese of Bologna and other parts of Northern Italy who were killed in the Second World War


About the five priests killed at Marzabotto:

Don Giovanni Fornasini

Don Ubaldo Marchioni

Don Ferdinando Casagrande

Don Elia Comini, Salesian Priest, and Padre Martino Capelli, Priest of the Sacred Heart