Monchio, Susano and Costrignano

Three single-storey light brown stone buildings stand on a paved square on a green lawn. Hills and trees can be seen in the background.
The monument at Buca di Susano. © Elena Pirazzoli

18 March 1944 , Monchio, Susano and Costrignano (Modena, Emilia Romagna)

In March 1944, the Reconnaissance battalion of the ‘Hermann Göring’ Division received orders to secure the mountain passes in the northern Apennines. During a series of anti-partisan operations, the soldiers conducted brutal sweeps through the region. On March 18th, while searching the villages of Monchio, Susano, and Costrignano, they killed 127 civilians. Decades later in the early 2000s, German authorities launched the first investigations into the massacre. After parallel inquiries by the military prosecutor’s office in La Spezia, the military court in Verona convicted three former soldiers in absentia in 2011, sentencing them to life in prison for their role in the killings.

Involved Unit

Parachute Panzer Reconnaissance Battalion ‘Hermann Göring’, Gendarmerie Company ‘Emilia’


Rittmeister Kurt-Christian von Loeben, Kommandeur of Parachute Panzer Reconnaissance Battalion ‘Hermann Göring


127 victims: 72 in Monchio, 22 in Susano, 33 in Costrignano

Investigations and processes

2004-2015: Investigations of Dortmund prosecutor’s office

2011: Military court in Verona – three life sentences and four not-guilty judgements

2012: Military appeals court, Rome – two life sentences annulled; one confirmed

2014: The Italian court of cassation confirms the previously annulled life sentences; one of the accused men has meanwhile died.

Armed forces

The massacre

The combing operation began on 18 March at dawn. From the Rocca di Montefiorino fortifications, at the time the headquarters of the National Republican Guard, the Germans fired artillery at the villages of Susano, Costrignano and Monchio, located on the opposite mountain slope.

Ermittlungen und Prozesse

The Dortmund prosecutor’s office investigated the Monchio massacre and other atrocities of the ‘Hermann Göring’ division in the early 2000s. In Italy, investigations were carried out by the military prosecutor’s office in La Spezia; that office’s authority was transferred to the Verona military prosecutor in 2007.
  • Eleven square columns with different motifs stand in a circle on a lawn. In their centre, a circle is marked out on the ground with low stones. Trees stand in the background.
    The monument at Santa Giulia © Elena Pirazzoli
  • A person in wide robes stands on a single square column, stretching both arms in a V-shape towards the sky. An inscription can be seen on the column.
    Cristo della frantellanza dei popoli in Monchio: a monument for the brotherhood of the peoples. © Elena Pirazzoli
  • A pillar made of light-coloured stone in a gravel bed, surrounded by flowers. It is dedicated to the victims of the massacre in Mochio and crowned by an eternal light made of metal.
    Monument for the victims of the massacre in Monchio. © Elena Pirazzoli



Some German documents tied to the Monchio massacre are available. The report of Rittmeister von Loeben about the 18 March operation is kept in the military archive of the German Federal Archives in Freiburg, in the files of the LXXV Army Corps (attachment no. 4.1, dossier RH 24-75/20, attachments of the activity report of Corps Ic. The war diary of the Ia-section of the LXXV Army Corps and attachments (German Federal Archives, RH 24-75/2, war diary 20 Jan.-30 April 1944, RH 24-75/6, attachments) contain various references to deployment against ‘bandits’ by the reconnaissance battalion of the ‘Hermann Göring’ division in spring 1944. 

The photo archive of the German Federal Archives, inventory Bild 101 I, containing the material of the war correspondents for the army and Luftwaffe, includes a series of photos by photographer Freytag (Karten 477, Film 2106) that demonstrate the presence of the ‘Hermann Göring’ division in the Apennines in the spring of 1944. The investigations of the Dortmund prosecutor’s office were carried out under proceedings no. 45 Js 1/04; they are kept in the Dortmund office. 


Pietro Alberghi, Attila sull’Appennino. La strage di Monchio e le origini della lotta partigiana nella valle del Secchia, Modena, Istituto storico della Resistenza, 1969.

Giovanni Fantozzi, Monchio 18 marzo 1944. L’esempio, Modena, Artestampa, 2006.

Carlo Gentile, Wehrmacht und Waffen-SS im Partisanenkrieg: Italien 1943-1945, Paderborn, 2012, Ferdinand Schöningh, pp. 308-312.

Lutz Klinkhammer, Zwischen Bündnis und Besatzung. Das nationalsozialistische Deutschland und die Republik von Salò 1943-1945, Tübingen, Niemeyer, 1993. 

G.S. Panzieri, L'occupazione tedesca in Italia, Turin, Bollati Boringhieri, 1993, pp. 335-337 (Ausgabe 2007).

Elena Pirazzoli, I due versanti della memoria. La repubblica di Montefiorino e la strage di Monchio, “E-Review”, no. 3, 2015, 10.12977/ereview101

Toni Rovatti, Fra politiche di violenza e aspirazioni di giustizia. L’esperienza di guerra della popolazione civile vittima delle stragi di Monchio e Tavolicci (1943-1944), Rome, Carocci, 2009.

Authorship and translation

Author: Carlo Gentile

Translated from German by: Joel Golb

© Project ‘The Massacres in Occupied Italy (1943-1945): Integrating the Perpetrators’ Memories’


Text: CC BY NC SA 4.0