Rome was the first capital to be liberated from Nazi German occupation on 4 June 1944. Rome had been declared an open city which meant that it could be captured without any fighting. This was a welcome relieve after the heavy fought campaign of Cassino.
On 11 May 1944 the Allies launched Operation Diadem which was to break through the Gustav Line and open the way to Rome. The task of achieving this goal fell to the British 8th Army (including Polish, Canadian, and South African divisions) and the U.S. 5th Army (including four French division). After several attacks the German commander Albert Kesselring decided to abandon the Gustav line defences on 25 May, opening the way for the Allied advance. The capture of Rome was incredibly important to the Allies. It was hoped that the capture of the Italian capital might draw German troops away from France and the impending D-Day landings. Furthermore the capture of Rome would also have a tremendous propaganda value. President Roosevelt had intimated that Rome had to be conquered by American troops. The American commander on the scene, general Clark, therefore disobeyed the orders of the British general Alexander to cut of the German line of retreat and instead ordered his troops to capture the city. As a result of this decision the German 10th Army managed to escape capture and could continue its defence of Northern Italy. Prior to the capture of Rome, Italian forces fighting alongside the Allied armies were send to the Adriatic front so that they could not participate in the liberation of their capital. Ironically the news of the capture of Rome was overshadowed two days later by the D-Day landings in Normandy.