San Martino di Caprara

In the foreground, the remains of the village of San Martino. Monte Sole can be seen in the background.
San Martino di Caprara was the site of an ancient church and the centre of the Monte Sole community. Between 29 and 30 Sept 1944, 55 people were killed. © Udo Gümpel

30 September 1944 , San Martino di Caprara, district in the Marzabotto commune (Bologna, Emilia Romagna)

With its parish church, the village of San Martino served as the centre of the area of Monte Sole. The German troops suspected that the command post of the ‘Stella Rossa’ partisan brigade was located here.

The events of 29 and 30 Sept. can only be reconstructed with difficulty. The 1st and 3rd companies of Walter Reder’s Reconnaissance battalion arrived at the village on 30 Sept. They fired at the houses, considering them hiding places for partisans, but found neither persons nor weapons. Later they pulled local families from their hiding places and shot them to death.

Involved Unit

1st and 5th companies SS-Panzer Reconnaissance Battalion 16 ‘Reichsführer-SS


Hermann Bühler, Helmut Wulf



Armed forces
A close-up shows the inscription on the memorial to the victims.
Detail of the monument in memory of the victims. © Udo Gümpel
  • An aerial view shows the ruins of the village. The trees of the surrounding forest have no leaves. Mountains can be seen in the background.
    San Martino di Caprara. © Udo Gümpel
  • A metal construction is attached to a low wall remnant. In the middle hangs an abstract iron figure of Jesus on the cross, around it are memorial plaques.
    Monument in San Martino di Caprara in memory of the victims. © Udo Gümpel
  • A close-up of one of the plaques with the dedication to the victims.
    Detail of the monument. © Udo Gümpel

‘We reached this place around 9. It was made up of a church and three farmhouses. Unterscharführer Wolf deployed the twenty-man strong column around the village and light weapon fire was concentrated on the village for around ten minutes. Then the order was issued to cease fire. Our soldiers entered the buildings and found them abandoned aside from one old woman, and there were no weapons.’


‘Our short rest was interrupted by the arrival of a group of thirty to forty women and children, escorted by three SS-soldiers who I believe belonged to the 2nd or 3rd comp. They led the group to where we were sitting and asked Boehler what they were to do with them. He said: ‘They need to be shot.’ 

Julien Legoll, November 1944

In the centre of the remains of the church of San Martino is an iron frame, below which is a round disc. The structure is reminiscent of a large gong.
Remains of the church of San Martino di Caprara. © Udo Gümpel


Luca Baldissara, Paolo Pezzino, Il massacro. Guerra ai civili a Monte Sole, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2009, pp. 130-136, 211-218, 585-586.

Dario Zanini, Marzabotto e dintorni, 1944, Bologna, Ponte Nuovo, 1996, pp. 460-463.

Authorship and translation

Author: Carlo Gentile

Translated from German by: Joel Golb

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