Valla and Bardine di San Terenzo

In the centre of this colour photo is the village of Bardine di San Terenzo, built into the slope of a hill and consisting of light-coloured houses with red-tiled roofs. Higher, partly snow-covered mountains can be seen in the background.
Bardine di San Terenzo, part of the comune of Fivizzano. © Udo Gümpel

19 August 1944 , Bardine di San Terenzo, village in the Fivizzano commune (Massa-Carrara, Tuscany)

After a partisan attack near Bardine, SS Gruppenführer Max Simon ordered a brutal reprisal operation. At the place of the attack, 53 men being held as hostages were shot to death. Later in the day, German soldiers assembled over 100 civilians, mainly women and children, on the ‘Valla’ farm and murdered them.

Involved Unit

1st, 2nd, and 3rd company, SS Panzer Battalion 16; entire SS Panzer Reconnaissance battalion 16, Feldgendarmerie-Kompanie 16.


Max Simon, Helmut Looß, Walter Reder, Josef Meier, Gerhard Franz Walter, Albert Fischer, and their men, including the accused in the La Spezia trial.



Investigations and processes

1947: Proceedings before the British military court in Padua against Max Simon on account of massacres by his division. Death sentence commuted to life in prison; again commuted in 1948 to 21 years. Released in 1954.

1951: Proceedings of the military court in Bologna against Walter Reder; confirmed in 1954 on appeal. 1980: military court in Bari approves release on probation; 1985: Reder released and returns to Austria.

2003-2008: Proceedings of the La Spezia military prosecutor’s office

2008-2009: Trial before the La Spezia military court and then by the military court in Rome. June 2009: sentences of life imprisonment.

Armed forces

The massacres

I don’t know exactly what happened in the village. I only heard that the deployed soldiers had to wait for some time because they were told the cows had to be rounded up. Then the rumour spread that the time was used for the Italians to call up the partisans.

Statement of Werner Z., investigation by La Spezia military prosecutor, 2007.

The partisan attack near the Bardine bridge was probably the gravest attack the SS-division experienced in Italy. Division headquarters reacted with severe reprisal measures
The Valla massacre was kept secret to avoid inquiries by the Wehrmacht command.

Investigations and trials



The daily reports of the 16th SS Panzergrenadier Division ‘Reichsführer-SS’ are the most important German sources for reconstructing the events. These reports are included in records of the XIV Panzer Corps kept in Moscow, in the war-trophy holdings of the former central archives of the defence ministry. These documents are available online: (Inventory 500, identification book 12475, files 30-31). The documents allow a rough reconstruction of the partisan attack near Bardine and the German reprisal measures. But the documents lack any reference to the Valla massacre, not reported by the SS division to higher command. Basic details can be found in files of the 14th Army (RH 20-14) and the OKH (Oberkommando des Heeres) (BArch RH 2) in the Military Archives of the German Federal Archives in Freiburg.

The victims of the partisan attack are found in the casualty reports of the former Deutsche Dienststelle (WASt) in Berlin, together with reports on the injuries suffered; since January 2019 the WASt has been part of the network of the German Federal Archives (section PA, Personenbezogene Auskünfte, Bestand B 563). 

The documents on Valla and Bardine tied to the British investigations are kept in the British National Archives, London (Kew), WO 204/11471, WO 204/11494, WO 310/201, WO 310/121); the documents of the trial of SS-General Max Simon before a British military tribunal are found here, WO 235/584-588.

All material tied to the investigations and the trial organized by Italian military justice is kept in the archives of the state prosecutor in Rome. The testimony of former SS soldiers during the investigation of the La Spezia military prosecutor’s office contains various references to the partisan attack. The published ego-documents include Günther Wick’s small volume Wir hielten immer zusammen, Bremen, Am Wall, 2019.


Gianluca Fulvetti, Uccidere i civili. Le stragi naziste in Toscana (1943-1945), Rome, Carocci, 2009, pp. 214-218. 

Claudio Manfroni, La iena, l’oste e la bambina. Memorie della strage di Valla, in Pietro Clemente / Fabio Dei (eds.), Poetiche e politiche del ricordo. Memoria pubblica delle stragi nazifasciste in Toscana, Rome, Carocci, 2005, pp. 61-90. 

Paolo Pezzino, Crimini di guerra nel settore occidentale della Linea Gotica, in Gianluca Fulvetti / Francesca Pelini (eds.), La politica del massacro. Per un atlante delle stragi naziste in Toscana, Naples, l’ancora del Mediterraneo, 2006, pp. 17-27.

Authorship and translation

Autor: 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