The aerial view shows the cemetery of Casaglia. It is surrounded by a high wall and is located in a wooded area. Mountains can be seen in the background.
The Casaglia cemetery. In it, people taken by German soldiers from the church of Santa Maria Assunta were killed. © Udo Gümpel

29 September 1944 , Casaglia, district in the Marzabotto commune (Bologna, Emilia Romagna)

On the morning of 29 Sept. 1944, appr. 100 women, older persons and children took shelter in the local church. Assuming that they were the intended target of an SS-operation, the men had already fled. When the 3rd company of the reconnaissance-battalion of the ‘Reichsführer-SS’ division arrived, the civilians were pulled out of the church and driven into the cemetery. A machine gun was set up at the entrance and everyone was gunned down. Only eight wounded children survived.

Involved Unit

3rd Company of the Reconnaissance battalion 16 ‘Reichsführer-SS



Armed forces
Close-up of an iron cross. In the background more graves can be seen in the cemetery as well as the cemetery wall and on the right edge of the picture the remains of a square tower-like building.
The cemetery of Casaglia. © Udo Gümpel
The remains of the church of Casaglia: the memorial to the victims can be seen on the left edge of the picture. In the background of the picture, one of the walls of the church rises up. In front of it are the remains of the altar. To the right of the ruins is the church bell.
When the SS arrived, the people who were in the church were taken to the cemetery. © Udo Gümpel
'Like a flock of sheep, we were all forced to enter the cemetery. They shoved and stepped on us. One of them gave an old woman his arm to help her in, before again beginning to brutally shove the others. They seemed out of their minds'
Cornelia Paselli
'I saw two Germans step in. One of them placed a MG before us on a tripod, loaded it with a belt. I recall that this MG had a big muzzle. The other German had a big automatic weapon.'
Lucia Sabbioni, 1947
  • Detail of the memorial plaque for the priest Don Ubaldo. To the right hangs a framed photo of him: it shows a young man in black clothes with dark hair.
    A plaque commemorates Don Ubaldo Marchioni, who was killed along with three other people near the Casaglia church. © Udo Gümpel
  • Some bullet holes can be seen on the light-coloured stone wall.
    Some bullet holes are still visible on the walls of the cemetery, where the shooting took place. © Udo Gümpel


Luca Baldissara, Paolo Pezzino, Il massacro. Guerra ai civili a Monte Sole, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2009, pp. 149-170, 581-582.

Cornelia Paselli, Vivere nonostante tutto, a cura di Alice Rocchi, Reggio Emilia, Zikkaron, 2021.

Dario Zanini, Marzabotto e dintorni, 1944, Bologna, Ponte nuovo, 1996, pp. 529-531.

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