29 JUNE 1944, SLAUGHTER OF SAN PACRAZIO 

 

According to the majority of the testimonies recorded in the years starting from the first investigations in 1944, it was around 5.30 a.m. when the German troops reached San Pancrazio, in line with what happened in the other places of the province that suffered similar slaughters: Castelnuovo dei Sabbioni, San Polo near Arezzo, Vallucciole in the Casentino, Civitella in the Valdichiana, where the massacre of the civilians was perpetrated contemporarily to that of San Pancrazio.
Once searched the houses, put the women with their children to flight, the men were assembled in the main square and held there till 2 p.m. When a new contingent of troops came from the town of Civitella, the apparent quiet stopped and «those activities that would lead to the slaughter and to the destruction of the town» began, even if the first killings had already happened inside the houses of the small village.
The men were brought to the near Farm Pierangeli, where the German soldiers robbed them of their personal documents and of the valuables they had. In the afternoon other civilians, raked up in the various houses, were brought there. At about 5 p.m. the first executions started with a shot in the nape, after having put the prisoners in a line, and the priest had already told them, in tears, «that they would kill them».
The victims of the slaughter of San Pancrazio were 73, including the 60 men killed in the wine cellar of Pierangeli Farm and the others in the various houses and all around the countryside. Everywhere the houses and the barns were set on fire, in many cases with the bodies inside.
From several testimonies given during the various investigations, we know that the soldiers guilty of the massacre were wearing the grey blue uniforms of «Hermann Goering» Division, the only German military unit that seemed to be displaced in the hilly zone of the Valdichiana, where the towns of Civitella, Cornia and San Pancrazio are located, when the facts happened.
To this Division belonged also some members of a dissolved musical group of the «Goering». One of them was Max Josef Milde, a 22 years old sergeant sued and condemned in 2006 for his involvement in the slaughter together with the other soldiers of his company.
Another defendant in the trial which took place in La Spezia between 2003 and 2006 was Siegfried Böttcher, the commander of the alert Company «Vesuv» of «Herman Goering» provisioning department. Böttcher died during the trial.
It seems that two hundred soldiers took part in the action. The operation should have contributed to reduce the partisan activity in order to stop definitely the Allies’ advance or at least to slow it down, in order to allow the completion of the Gothic Line they had been working to for months, but which had not been completed yet. It seems from documents and from various testimonies that the whole plan had been studied and prepared into details.
When the troops arrived at the places appointed for the retaliation, the action always developed in the same way: some shots of ‘cannoncino’ (light cannon) were fired, the civilians met on the road were shot dead generally with no respect for their age nor for their sex, then the men were assembled and killed and the houses were finally set on fire with the bodies inside.

 

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