Italian guerillas terrorist bomb attack at Via Rasella, 1944

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Panzermahn
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Italian guerillas terrorist bomb attack at Via Rasella, 1944

Post by Panzermahn » 21 Mar 2004 09:53

Hi guys,

i forgotten the url, but i remember that i came across a footnote saying that the Italian resistance teroristic bomb attack on the German company at Via Rasella in 1944 was declared illegal according to the existing international law at that time by an Italian court during the 70s

is this true or what?

Can anyone providemore information on this?

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DrG
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Re: Italian guerillas terrorist bomb attack at Via Rasella,

Post by DrG » 21 Mar 2004 13:20

panzermahn wrote:i forgotten the url, but i remember that i came across a footnote saying that the Italian resistance teroristic bomb attack on the German company at Via Rasella in 1944 was declared illegal according to the existing international law at that time by an Italian court during the 70s
is this true or what?
Can anyone providemore information on this?

I'm not an expert in this matter, but I've found these info:
- in the sentence of the Tribunale Militare of 7 July 1948 that found guilty Herbert Kappler for his excessive and illegal retaliation (335 people killed for the death of 32 Germans; but in the following days other 10 soldiers wounded in the bomb attack died) it was nevertheless told that the bomb attack was illegal, because Rome was an Open City and thus no military operations were allowed in it and the Germans were only a police force.
- but in the sentence of the Corte di Cassazione (a civilian tribunal) of 11 May 1957 and then in all the following sentences the attack was considered legal (mosty thanks to laws made in 1945-46, in other words after the attack). See for example the last sentence, made in 1999: Cassazione - Sezione I Penale sent. n. 1560/99.

Panzermahn
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Post by Panzermahn » 21 Mar 2004 13:48

DrG,


Thanks for the info...and i found this footnote....

Similarly, the July 20, 1948; verdict of the Tribunale Territoriale di Roma had declared that the bombing attack perpetrated against the German police company in the Via Rasella in Rome on March 23, 1944, had been in violation of international law (verdict p. 42).



http://www.codoh.com/found/fndSiegert.html

[18-point typeface resized by moderator for ease in reading. -- DT]

Rob - wssob2
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Post by Rob - wssob2 » 22 Mar 2004 00:06

Panzermahn - a book you should read which describes the Via Rassella attack and its aftermath in great detail is Robert Katz's The Battle for Rome: The Germans, The Allies, The Partisans, and the Pope, September 1943 - June 1944

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/de ... s&n=507846

It goes into great detail about
- Context of the Resistance movement in Rome (fall of Mussolini, the Allied campaign in Italy, the German occupation, Pope Pius XII, etc.)

- Biographies of the individual Resistance members who participated in the attack

- Operational details of the attack, including why the German Police battalion (a military formation) was targeted

- Details about the Polizei unit - formation, unit commanders, structure, duties, their "Hup, Mein Mädel" marching song, etc.

- German response to the attack, culminating in the Ardeatine Caves massacre. The book also discusses the roles of Herbert Kappler and Erich Priebke in the reprisals & the mystery of the 5 extra executions

- Postwar attempts to bring Priebke and Kappler to justice

It's an excellent book and I recommend it to anyone.



BTW:

the Germans were only a police force.


Albeit a police force that seized hostages, rounded up individuals for slave labor and Jews for deportation to the concentration camps.


it was nevertheless told that the bomb attack was illegal, because Rome was an Open City


From the amazon.com book review page:

One of the enduring myths of World War II is the legend that Rome was an "open city," free from military activity. In fact the German occupation was brutal, beginning almost immediately with the first roundup of Jews in Italy. Rome was a strategic prize that the Germans and the Allies fought bitterly to win. The Allied advance up the Italian peninsula from Salerno and Anzio in some of the bloodiest fighting of the war was designed to capture the Italian capital.


A city becomes less "open" when military forces of an occupying power set up shop in it and begin to oppress the local population

- Rob

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Post by Gwynn Compton » 22 Mar 2004 00:18

Thank you Rob for providing a more enlightened viewpoint on this. :)

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Post by xcalibur » 22 Mar 2004 00:40

Information regarding the trial of GFM Albert Kesselring can be found at:

http://www.ess.uwe.ac.uk/WCC/kesselring.htm

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Post by David Thompson » 22 Mar 2004 00:45

(1) There are three prior threads on this subject,at:

viewtopic.php?t=34951
viewtopic.php?t=32883
viewtopic.php?t=27453

(2) If the claim is that some act is a violation of international law, the poster should specify what law was involved.

(3) The idea here is to raise the level of scholarship in this section of the forum. A source that claims an international law was violated but does not specify the law, is no better than a poster who does the same thing.

(4) If one of our posters such as Panzermahn or Colonel SteelFist has a question, but has no source and has to include a clause such as:

"i forgotten the url, but i remember that i came across a footnote"
"I read somewhere"
"It seems that"
"I have heard such allegations in the past"
"ive heard that" and
"what about"

please refrain from posting until you have done a google search and made an effort for our readers. Please include in your post where you looked and what you found before you asked for help here. That way our readers will be able to see that they are answering someone serious, and are not setting themselves up to listen to a scratchy, sixty-year old Nazi monaural propaganda recording.

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Post by DrG » 22 Mar 2004 01:03

Rob - WSSOB wrote:
One of the enduring myths of World War II is the legend that Rome was an "open city," free from military activity. In fact the German occupation was brutal, beginning almost immediately with the first roundup of Jews in Italy.

A city becomes less "open" when military forces of an occupying power set up shop in it and begin to oppress the local population

The Tribunal recognized its status of open city, and it was recognized by Italy (both the RSI and the Kingdom) and Germany when the attack happened.

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Post by David Thompson » 22 Mar 2004 02:24

DrG -- You said, of Rome at the time of the Via Rasella bomb attack on a company of the SS Police Regiment "Bozen" on 23 Mar 1944:
The Tribunal recognized its status of open city, and it was recognized by Italy (both the RSI and the Kingdom) and Germany when the attack happened. [my emphasis -- DT]
That makes me wonder how Germany could have recognized the status of Rome as an undefended open city, when German troops of the SS Police Regiment "Bozen" provoked the attack by marching down the streets of Rome. The Italian government declared Rome was an open city on 14 Aug 1943 -- so what were Germans troops doing there, seven months later? Was Mussolini's Italian Social Republic (RSI) so short on policemen in Rome that they had to ask the SS for help?

If the Germans claimed that they could maintain their SS "police" troops in Rome and at the same time have Rome retain the status of an "open city," they were talking out of both ends. Open cities don't have troops in them.

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Post by Panzermahn » 22 Mar 2004 11:44

Thanks, Rob-WSSOB for the source on the book..Never knew about that..

But in fact i had the movie (played by Richard Burton & Antonio Maestraeni)) Massacre in Rome

(4) If one of our posters such as Panzermahn or Colonel SteelFist has a question, but has no source and has to include a clause such as:

"i forgotten the url, but i remember that i came across a footnote"
"I read somewhere"
"It seems that"
"I have heard such allegations in the past"
"ive heard that" and
"what about"


David, don't tell me that i had been profiled or targeted by you regarding this statement..i did provide the source on my 2nd post in this thread, right?

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DrG
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Post by DrG » 22 Mar 2004 18:54

David Thompson wrote:That makes me wonder how Germany could have recognized the status of Rome as an undefended open city
The status of open city was officially recognized at the surrender of the Italian troops in Rome (10 Sept. 1943). On 23 Sept., only 13 days after the agreement with Gen. Calvi di Bergolo, the Germans disarmed the Italian police force (police, carabinieri and the army division "Piave") and replaced it with their troops and troops of the RSI. Those units, Italian and then of Germany and RSI, had only the duty of keeping the control of civilian population, not to defend the city from an external enemy. And in fact in June 1944 no Axis opposition was made within Rome against the Allies.
when German troops of the SS Police Regiment "Bozen" provoked the attack by marching down the streets of Rome.

Those SS were part of the garrison, what had they to do? Fly?
The Italian government declared Rome was an open city on 14 Aug 1943 -- so what were Germans troops doing there, seven months later?Was Mussolini's Italian Social Republic (RSI) so short on policemen in Rome that they had to ask the SS for help?

Who was garrisoning Rome is completely irrilevant about the status of open city, a status still recognized by the Kingdom also during the German occupation.
If the Germans claimed that they could maintain their SS "police" troops in Rome and at the same time have Rome retain the status of an "open city," they were talking out of both ends. Open cities don't have troops in them.

But open cities have police in them. The troops in the city were armed only with individual weapons, no artillery, and were used only for public order.

Given that all the objections that you have written were irrilevant for the 2 belligerents involved in the attack of Via Rasella (the Germans and the Kingdom), Rome, at least for them, was an open city. Moreover the commander of the resistance in Rome, gen. Quirino Armellini, had ordered not to make attacks within the city, an order that, as usual, wasn't followed by communists.

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Post by David Thompson » 22 Mar 2004 19:02

DrG -- You are mistaken when you observe:
Those SS were part of the garrison, what had they to do? Fly?
and
Who was garrisoning Rome is completely irrilevant about the status of open city, a status still recognized by the Kingdom also during the German occupation.
Open cities do not have garrisons. They are undefended.

You also said:
But open cities have police in them. The troops in the city were armed only with individual weapons, no artillery, and were used only for public order.
Were you aware of these events affecting "public order," all of which happened after the "open city" declaration of 14 Aug 1943:

September 10 1943
German troops occupied Rome.

October 16 1943
Nazi-ordered mass arrests of Jews began in Rome, where more than 1,000 Jews were being detained. (Holo Ency 727)

October 17 1943
SS-Obersturmbannfuehrer Herbert Kappler, the SD commander in Rome, sent a telegraph to Berlin complaining about the difficulties he had in conducting a roundup of Jews during the evening of 16-17 October. His men had only been able to find 1,259 of the 8,000 Jews who resided in the Italian capitol. According to Kappler: "Attitude of Italian population definitely one of passive resistance; numerous cases of active assistance to Jews. No sign during operation of anti-Semitic section of the population; normal man-in-street only; even some instances of attempts to drag police officers away from Jews." (Hoehne 449)

October 18 1943
In Rome, 1,035 Jews were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp. (Holo Ency 1777)
Last edited by David Thompson on 22 Mar 2004 19:16, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by DrG » 22 Mar 2004 19:11

Reading the sentence of the first trial against Erich Priebke (http://www.giustiziamilitare.difesa.it/rassegna_gm/processi/priebke/sentenza_01081996.shtm), I've found this enlightening passage:
In conseguenza di ciò, l'attentato di via Rasella, pur essendo un vero e proprio atto di guerra riferibile allo Stato italiano (confermato dal fatto che, successivamente, lo Stato considerò come propri combattenti i partigiani che avevano compiuto azioni belliche contro i nazifascisti nel periodo dell'occupazione nemica, ed autorizzò la concessione di ricompense al valore militare agli appartenenti ai G.A.P. [Gruppi di Azione Patriottica] ed alle squadre cittadine indipendenti), dal punto di vista del diritto internazionale fu un atto di guerra materialmente illegittimo (art.1 della Convenzione dell'Aia, del 1907).

Esso, infatti, non fu compiuto né dall'esercito regolare né da un corpo volontario che rispondesse ad imprescindibili requisiti: una persona responsabile che lo guidasse e si assumesse la responsabilità degli atti compiuti dai suoi subordinati, segni distintivi fissi e riconoscibili a distanza, armi portate apertamente. E poiché dalla illegittimità internazionale di un atto di guerra riferibile ad uno Stato, sorge nell'organizzazione statuale danneggiata il diritto di agire in via di rappresaglia o di sanzione collettiva, occorre approfondire i presupposti giuridici di tali istituti per stabilire se l'eccidio delle Fosse Ardeatine possa o meno ricondursi ad una di queste due misure e trovare in essa giustificazione o legittimazione.

I translate the underlined parts:
"The attack of via Rasella..., on the point of view of the international law was an act of war materially illegal (art.1 Convetion of The Hague, 1907)"
"And because from the international illegality of an act of war belonging to[made by] a State [read: Kingdom of Italy],the right of acting through a reprisal or a collective sanction rises in the Statal organization [read: Germany] damaged..."

Then the tribunal exposed why the reprisal was a criminal one: because it was too large and because the Germans didn't invite the partizans to declare their responsability before the reprisal to spare the lives of those that were to be executed.

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Post by DrG » 22 Mar 2004 19:14

David Thompson wrote:Open cities do not have garrisons. They are undefended.

With the word "garrison" I am talking about the soldiers within the city with police duties. And they are perfectly allowed to be there.

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Post by DrG » 22 Mar 2004 19:21

I've found a very interesting article from the authoritative review of Law "Zaleuco": http://www.giuristi.thebrain.net/zaleuco/priebke.htm.
It's a comment of the sentence of the 2nd trial against Priebke, this passage is very interesting:
1) I tedeschi avevano il diritto di eseguire la rappresaglia perché l’attentato non poteva ritenersi un legittimo atto di guerra, sia perché condotto da "illegittimi belligeranti, sia per le modalità proditorie con cui si era svolto;

2) la rappresaglia rispondeva al parametro della necessità ed efficacia (come peraltro dimostrò la diminuzione delle attività partigiane nel periodo successivo);

3) fu preceduta da indagini poichè Kappler fece perquisire tutte le abitazioni di via Rasella alla ricerca dei colpevoli e ne interrogò gli abitanti. Nè al momento poteva fare molto di più, tenuto conto che la rappresaglia doveva essere anche tempestiva;

4) la rappresaglia fu indubbiamente tempestiva;

5) i fucilati non erano prigionieri di guerra.

6) fu invece sproporzionata perché uccidere dieci italiani per un tedesco non trovava riscontri nella legge italiana e neppure in quella internazionale;

7) violò sicuramente le leggi umanitarie perché gli ostaggi vennero uccisi a gruppi di cinque, in maniera barbara, facendo salire i morituri sui corpi di quelli già uccisi.


The 1) point is about the topic of this thread:
"The Germans had the right of reprisal because the attack couldn't be considered a legal act of war, and because it was made by "illegal belligerents", and because of the treacherous way of its happening."

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