Via Rasella Attack

On 23 March 1944, in Via Rasella, in the centre of Rome, a bomb by GAP (Patriotic Action Group) partisans killed 33 Nazis. As a reprisal, the German command ordered the shooting of ten Italians for every German killed.

A group of German policemen, the Bozen SS battalion, marched on the streets of Rome city centre every day, to show the German presence and intimidate the Roman citizens. A bomb placed in a garbage cart exploded as the soldiers walked on Via Rasella, coming from Via del Traforo. The sound of the explosion shook the city; the Germans opened fire at the houses and the palaces, as four partisans threw bombs at the rear of the brigade. 32 German soldiers were killed, and another one died during the night. The partisan attack angered Hitler so much that he ordered “an immediate reprisal to shake the world”, asking Kesselring, supreme commander of the German forces in Italy, to destroy the whole neighbourhood and to kill from 30 to 50 Italians for every killed German. Later that day, it was decided to execute 10 Italians per killed German. The reprisal took place on the following day at the Ardeatine Caves. Today, no plaque remembers the Via Rasella attack, in some aspects a crucial event for the history of the occupation and for the fight to liberate Italy. Some houses and a palace, at the crossing with Via del Boccaccio, still have plenty of bullet holes on their façades, reminding of the panic of the German soldiers, who opened fire all around, unable to understand where the attack came from and what was happening.
Via Rasella, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy