On Sunday 8 September took place the annual ceremony to commemorate the valiant, but ineffective defense of Rome in the 1943. The tragic events that took place in Rome and the surrounding area, the 8 Settembre 1943 and in the days immediately following, following the early communication by the US of the Cassibile Armistice signature, are unfortunately known, as is the "flight" of kings, ministers and generals! Less well known is the reaction of military units (although abandoned without clear orders) and citizenship to Teutonic arrogance.
The prompt reaction of the Wermacht units (deployed to the south and north of the Eternal City based on the planning of the "Achse" Operation drawn up precisely to deal with the possibility of a now inevitable Italian surrender) was understandably and predictably furious. The Germans found themselves facing a disorderly reaction, but spontaneous, of the military units deployed in defense of the capital, to which civilians of every social class joined.
It was a heroic, though militarily vain, resistance that left on the field about 1.000 fallen between military and civilians. In the wake of the sad Italian habit of celebrating the heroic defeats more than the victories (the classic cases of El Alamein and Nikolaevka), every year the 8 September reminds the military and civilians that in the face of the German occupation, in the chaos of those days, for national pride they engaged in an unequal and hopeless struggle.
The ceremony took place in two stages and in two different places, which saw the presence of the President of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella, in both phases.
The head of state laid a wreath of flowers before at the Cestia Pyramid, where a column recalls the departments that contributed to the defense of Rome on the 9 and September 10 of the '43. Then he went to the Parco della Resistenza where a war memorial is located dedicated: "to the Italian military 87.000 fallen in the liberation war: 8.9.1943 - 8.5.1945". Here were present, among others, General Vecciarell (head of SMD) i, general Farina (head of SME), admiral Cavo Dragone (head of SM of the Navy), general Nistri (commander general of the Weapon) Carabinieri), the representatives of the head of SMA and the general commander of the Guardia di Finanza. The Prefect of Rome was also present (Dr. Pantalone)
After the deposition of the crown by President Mattarella, General Antonio Li Gobbi (in the name of theNational Combatants Association of Regular Armed Forces in the War of Liberation, whose national president amb. Alessandro Cortese de Bosis, a former liaison officer with the British during the war, was unable to intervene for health reasons), the lawyer. Virginia Raggi, mayor of Rome, the regional councilor Gian Paolo Manzella (representing the president Zingaretti) and the new minister of defense, the Hon. Lorenzo Guarini, at his first public appearance in the new role.
The new minister made a nice speech that comprehensively summarized the contribution made by the various FA departments to the defense of Rome. The commissioner Manzella underlined the strong bond between the Army and the people that on that occasion manifested itself. The mayor Raggi spoke about how Rome and its citizenship lived (and suffered) the sad period of the German occupation.
All very significant interventions. However, the intervention of Li Gobbi seemed particularly thick. The general, who we have interviewed in the past about the current affairs of the FA, has always been very attentive to the role of FA in the tragic 43-45 period.
Li Gobbi is a retired army corps general, whose father (Alberto) and whose paternal uncle (Aldo) were two soldiers than at 8 September, although both at home on leave (one convalescent and the other "Prize") immediately took up arms to fight against the German invader and were both decorated with Gold Medal for Military Valor (Aldo to "memory").
Li Gobbi gave a vibrant "arm" speech, in which he touched on several points that we consider interesting:
- pointed out that in the days of September '43, in a situation of general loss of credibility of the institutions and the ruling classes of the Nation, the citizens joined the soldiers in a desperate defense because the FAs were perceived as the only institution that still represented the Nation and the National Unity;
- has firmly refuted the assertion that September 8 represented the "death of the Fatherland",
- described the War of Liberation as "5 ^ War of Independence of our Risorgimento", because, like the previous four1, aimed at restoring national sovereignty and freeing the national territory from the foreign invader;
- has listed the contribution made by the FA in all the different forms taken by the War of Liberation: armed resistance of foreign units, unarmed resistance of military internees in concentration camps, key role of reconstituted FAs in the South to contribute to the Campaign of Italy, focusing in particular on the role played by the military in the "occupied territories", which were real elements around which the resistance movement was catalyzed;
- deprecating how much the role of the military in the War of Liberation has so far been "deliberately ignored", asked for the minister's commitment to make this contribution known, putting aside the shyness that characterized the governmental action in this regard in these three quarters of century;
- pointed out that the War of Liberation and the Resistance still take on a divisive connotation in Italy, as it allowed only the communist component to appropriate a legacy that belonged to the entire Italian people and, above all, belonged to those “socialists , republicans, Catholics, churchmen and many, many military men, above all career soldiers, who fought for a free Italy, an Italy that rejected both the culture of the gulag and that of the lagers ”;
- in stigmatizing negatively the appeal to the legacy of the Resistance for today's political battles that have nothing to do with the Resistance, has invited a process of cultural revision that started from the events of Porta San Paolo "Where in the 1943 officers and soldiers of all the weapons of the Italian Army, to which citizens and citizens of all walks of life and political ideas joined, they fought a battle without hope, and for this reason even more heroic, for liberation and for the dignity of Italy ".
ONLINE DEFENSE believes it may be interesting to offer Li Gobbi's intervention in its integral form, which we have transcribed from an audio recording.
"Honorable minister, lady mayor, councilor, commanders, authority,
First of all I address a deferential thought to the fallen of all the wars of the past and of the military operations currently in progress.
Also in the name of the national president, Ambassador Alessandro Cortese de Bosis, unable to attend for health reasons, I greet the authorities, but above all I greet the citizens and the arms associations that wanted to be present today in this place, where in the 1943 is the War of Liberation began.
Allow me to express a thought of closeness also to the Jewish Community that too often in Italy still suffers acts of anti-Semitism, which are intentionally intended to pass off as forms of condemnation of the policy of the State of Israel.
But coming to today, in this place, the 9 and the 10 September of the 1943, officers and soldiers of all the weapons of the Army fought against the invader.
An unequal struggle without hope, but the important thing is that they have united citizens and citizens of all walks of life and all political beliefs, demonstrating that in that situation of chaos, in that situation of loss of reference points , the Armed Forces, despite the political crisis and despite three years of disastrous war, were still considered by most Italian citizens to be the only representatives of the nation and national unity. Magnificent example of cohesion of the People with its Army.
It was written that September 8 was the "death of the Fatherland". I do not agree! It was not the death of the homeland: it was the end of a state, of a state organization, the loss of credibility of an entire ruling class, both the fascist and the royalist. But it was also and above all the beginning of the redemption of the Italian people. Redemption which has assumed a multiplicity of forms, in all of which men with stars have played a leading and essential role, sometimes, unfortunately, perhaps deliberately ignored.
I will not cite all the numerous examples, but we know that the units abandoned by a short-sighted policy in remote Aegean islands or in the Balkans, wherever they have resisted or tried to resist against the Germans, despite a serious subjection of forces. And we know this thanks above all to the attention that President Ciampi gave to Cephalonia; but there was not only Cephalonia!
640.000 Italian soldiers interned in concentration camps, almost unanimously, refused, despite the tortures, to join the Social Republic.
In the South, despite the Allies' caution and lack of confidence, it was possible to bring together "new" Armed Forces, which in the 1945 April counted 500.000 men well: half a million soldiers! Not only the Combat Groups, but also combat units of the Navy, the Air Force and the Auxiliary Divisions. Soldiers all who were essential to allow the Allied advance along the Peninsula.
But also in the North, where there was the "partisan war", the military elements were the first, very often, to give themselves to the guerrilla, and they were the catalysts that tried to give an organization and some unity. to the movement that was born spontaneously but disorderly.
This is not what we military say! I read: "There were soldiers fleeing to the mountain led by their officers. They fled because of an anxiety of rebellion, but with a sense of discipline and organization. And they escaped by going with their own weapon ". Not a military man wrote it, a communist political leader, Luigi Longo, deputy commander of the Volunteer Corps of Freedom and future secretary of the Italian Communist Party, wrote.
In Rome, where we are, in addition to the events of Porta San Paolo, we cannot forget the contribution made during the period of occupation by the Clandestine Military Front led by Colonel Cordero di Montezemolo. Recall that 335 slaughtered the Ardeatine forces, well 69 were men with stars.
But it was so everywhere, I'm not going to mention all the heroes with the stars of the partisan war: from Perotti to the brothers Di Dio, it would be too long to list them all! Suffice it to say that of the Gold Medals awarded for partisan activity, 229, almost all of them in memory, have been granted to men with stars.
I say this, honorable minister, because I want to ask you to let today's Italians know the role that the military played in this "Fifth War of Independence" (because, like the previous ones, it was a War of Independence for the liberation of the national territory from the invader, the Germans) Recognition that was very shy if not entirely absent in these years 76. At the beginning of your mandate I would like to ask you for this commitment: not for me but for historical truth!
Furthermore, it is sad to see that the 25 April, unlike the November 4, is not a party that unites the Italian people, but after three quarters of a century it continues to be a divisive party. And it is a divisive party because the Italians were left to believe that the Resistance was only the struggle between those who had a vision of Italy subservient to the totalitarian Nazi design (a design rejected by history even then) and those who had a vision of Italy subjugated to the equally totalitarian Soviet design, which would have been rejected by history as bankruptcy and dictatorial only a few decades later!
Instead, we must remember that in the ranks of the Resistance there were many others: there were republican socialists, Catholics, churchmen and many very many military men, above all career soldiers, who fought for a free Italy, an Italy that refused both the culture of the gulag and that of the lagers.
So, if you succeed in enhancing that component of the Resistance that rejected both the lagers and the gulags, and you will avoid that the legacy of the Resistance and of those Men fighting for a free Italy is used for today's political and party struggles ( in relation to the Constitutional Referendum for example), then, perhaps, it will be possible to restore credibility to the Resistance and to ensure that the 25 April and the War of Liberation become an element that is not divisive but of unity, the Italian people.
It is to realize this, perhaps, it is necessary to start from here, from Porta San Paolo, where in the 1943 officers and soldiers of all the weapons of the Italian Army, to which citizens and citizens of all walks of life were united and political ideas, they fought a battle without hope, and for this reason even more heroic, for the liberation and dignity of Italy.
Long live Italy, live the War of Liberation in the Risorgimento tradition "
1 Many Italian historians have considered the Great War as the 4 ^ War of Independence
Photo: Online Defense / Ministry of Defense / Presidency of the Republic