Vallucciole

Behind a stone wall overgrown with grass, three two-storey houses made of the same stone stand one behind the other. Trees can be seen in the background.
Abandoned houses in Vallucciole. © Elena Pirazzoli

13 April 1944 , Vallucciole, Monte di Gianni, Serelli, Molino di Bucchio, Giuncheto (frazioni di Pratovecchio Stia, Arezzo, Toscana)

Nel quadro di un’operazione antipartigiana attorno al monte Falterona, i soldati della divisione "Hermann Göring" attaccarono la frazione di Vallucciole uccidendo oltre 100 civili, per la maggior parte donne e bambini. Le violenze furono tali che il rapporto dei Carabinieri di Stia al comando provinciale della Guardia nazionale repubblicana di Arezzo provocò la richiesta formale di spiegazioni da parte di Mussolini all’ambasciatore tedesco. La Wehrmacht avviò un'indagine disciplinare, in cui, tuttavia, i fatti vennero minimizzati e dissimulati.

Involved Unit

Fallschirm-Panzer-Aufklärungs-Abteilung "Hermann Göring", Fallschirm-Panzer-Regiment "Hermann Göring", Gendarmerie-Hauptmannschaft Toscana, soldati della RSI

Commander

Fallschirm-Panzer-Division "Hermann Göring"

Culprits

capitano Kurt-Christian von Loeben, al comando della Fallschirm-Panzer-Aufklärungs-Abteilung "Hermann Göring"

Victims

107 totali, di cui 51 uomini (5 bambini, 6 ragazzi, 19 adulti, 21 anziani) e 56 donne (7 bambine, 3 ragazze, 31 adulte, 15 anziane)

Investigations and processes

Gennaio 1945: indagini del SIB inglese
1948-1950: procedimento del Tribunale Militare territoriale di Firenze nei confronti di Wilhelm Schmalz, poi assolto dal Tribunale militare territoriale di Roma (12.07.1950).
anni 2000: tribunale militare di La Spezia, poi Tribunale militare di Verona, sentenza con sei condanne all’ergastolo (06.07.2011). Due sentenze annullate dalla Corte di Appello di Roma nel 2014.
2004-2015: indagini della Procura di Dortmund

Armed forces
Wehrmacht
An aerial view in black and white shows the area around Vallucciole after the massacre. On the right of the picture, the foundation walls of some destroyed houses can be seen. Around them are fields and paths.
Vallucciole and its cemetery. © US NARA - Record Group 373 - Aerial Photography

The massacre

The massacre of Valluccciole could only be reconstructed through reports of rescue workers, since no one survived.

In summer 1944, Allied reconnaissance aircraft searching for Wehrmacht positions along the Gothic Line flew over the houses of Vallucciole, which had been destroyed in April by the ‘Hermann Göring’ Division.

  • An aerial view in black and white shows the area around Vallucciole after the massacre. On the right of the picture, the foundation walls of some destroyed houses can be seen. Around them are fields and paths.
    The buildings in Vallucciole have not yet been restored but work in the fields has commenced again: from left Serelli, the cemetery, Vallucciole, and Monte di Gianni. © US NARA - Record Group 373 - Aerial Photography
  • A cluster of destroyed houses can be seen in the centre of this aerial photograph in black and white. Four small paths lead through the fields towards the village. The craters, probably caused by damaged Allied bombs, can be seen at the bottom of the picture.
    Monte di Gianni, summer of 1944. The craters on the bottom of the photo have most likely been caused by the emergency ejection of damaged allied bombs. © US NARA - Record Group 373 - Aerial Photography
  • In the centre of this aerial photograph in black and white, a destroyed house with a covered roof can be seen at the top and bottom. Surrounding it are fields, wooded areas and country lanes.
    Molino di Bucchio, at a branch of the Arno river. Two days before the massacre, a skirmish between partisans and German soldiers occurred here. © US NARA - Record Group 373 - Aerial Photography
  • Another aerial view in black and white: it shows the houses of Serelli, in the upper left corner of the picture.
    The houses of Serelli. The village has been abandoned since 1992 due to a landslide. © US NARA - Record Group 373 - Aerial Photography
  • In the right half of the picture, the houses of the hamlet of Serelli can be seen without their roofs after the massacre.
    The houses of Serelli without their roofs after the massacre. © US NARA - Record Group 373 - Aerial Photography

The photo shows a group of German and Italian officers and soldiers during a pause in their operation on Monte Falterona, April 1944. The photo was probably taken by the German soldier, stationed in Stia, who brought the film it was on to photographer Pietro Ghelli for development. Ghelli recognized the film’s importance and saved some of the images, later handing them to British military investigators. This image was forwarded to Italian military justice and was eventually used in the 1948 trial of General Wilhelm Schmalz, then in the most recent military trials in La Spezia.

A group of soldiers in uniform stands in a hilly landscape. Most of them are photographed in profile and are not looking at the camera. In the right half of the picture, two soldiers have turned towards the photographer. A third stands in the middle and looks directly into the camera.
April 1944: a group of officers and soldiers from the garnison at Stia take a break from the operation at Monte Falterona along with Italians from the RSI. The German soldiers are part of a transport detachment that supplied a building site of Organisation Todt at the Mandrioli-Pass. © General military prosecutor's office Rome
The troops were charged by the German military authorities simply with the plunder in Stia, not with the massacre in Vallucciole. Because of the ‘Barbarossa Decree’ of 1941, prohibiting the prosecution of soldiers for excesses in the course of combatting partisans, investigations and trials—not to speak of sentencing—had become unthinkable.

Investigation and trials

In 2000, investigations of the massacre in Vallucciole were taken up by the Dortmund prosecutor’s office. Subsequently, the La Spezia military prosecutor resumed its investigations; the trial took place before the Verona military court and ended on 6 July 2011.

Memory

Sources

Some references to operations in the Monte Falterona area are found in the Freiburg branch of the German Federal Archives: documents of the Armeeabteilung ‘von Zangen’ (BArch, RH 24-87/39 and 40); of Army Corps LXXV (RH 24-75/2, war diary of the operations battalion; RH 24-75/20, appendices to the activities report of the Ic-detachment). Among the latter appendices, no. 62 furnishes additional information on the persons killed in the Vallucciole and Partina massacres, the material pillaged, and the villages destroyed in these operations. The documents of the Witthöft Corps (RH 24-73/8; RH 24-73/11) show the operation’s preparations and chain of command. More illuminating are documents linked to the British investigation, kept in the British National Archives (WO 204/11488). The memoirs of Oberleutnant Wolfgang Bach, Vom Garigliano zur Weichsel: Meine Zeit als Chef der schweren Kompanie der Fallschirm-Panzer-Aufklärungs-Abteilung 'Hermann Göring', 12. November 1943 bis 31. August 1944 (‘From Garigliano to the Weichsel: My Time as Head of the Heavy-Weapons Company of the “Hermann Göring” Parachute-Panzer Reconnaissance Battalion’) are kept in the Federal Archives, Freiburg (BW 57/346).

Literature

Carlo Gentile, ‘La divisione Hermann Göring in Toscana’, in Gianluca Fulvetti, Paolo Pezzino (eds.), La politica del massacro, Naples, l'ancora del mediterraneo, 2006, pp. 213-240.

Carlo Gentile, Wehrmacht und Waffen-SS im Partisanenkrieg: Italien 1943-1945, Schöningh, Paderborn, 2012, pp. 28, 129, 312-319.

Luca Grisolini, Vallucciole, 13 aprile 1944: storia, ricordo e memoria pubblica di una strage nazifascista, Consiglio regionale della Toscana, Florence, 2017.

Authorship and translation

Author: Carlo Gentile

Translated from German by: Joel Golb

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

2023

Text: CC BY NC SA 4.0

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