Commemorative plaque to be unveiled at Cassino

Discussion in 'Italy' started by vitellino, Mar 17, 2018.

  1. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Hello everybody,

    I have just found this on line and have done a hasty translation.

    CASSINO (FROSINONE) – "The placing of this plaque is a both a reminder of and a commemoration of those who died in the battle, both military and civilians, who lives were cut short by the absurdity and violence of war."

    This is according to the German Paratroopersì Association, who are promoting the inauguration of a plaque to the memory of the Nazi paratroopers which will be unveiled on Sunday March 18 in Cassino in the presence of General Hans-Werner Fritz, president of the German Confederation of paratroopers. The commemorative plaque is to be placed in via Gaetano Di Biasio, in Cassino, at the exact spot of the so-called Bushin Cave, where Captain Ferdinand Bushin had his headquarters.

    According to the organizers, the plaque is “intended to symbolise both the desire and need for reconciliation between our peoples, above all so that the suffering for loss of life both on the part of the Allies and of the Germans can be shared, in order to make sure that the abhorrent massacres of that time are not repeated."

    As reported in the 'Fatto quotidiano' newspaper, the event has been sponsored by the right wing City Council. Among the organizers are the Hoteliers' association and the Battle of Casino Association.

    In response to the criticisms which have arrived at their headquarters in the last few hours Pino Valente, the president of the Monte Cassino Hoteliers' Association, has explained that "the initiative is absolutely devoid by any political significance, and the decision to install this plaque came after careful consideration, from which has emerged a strong condemnation of Nazism and fascism, the certainty that there is no wish to exalt any form of ideology, and the lack of any desire to erase history or change the events that brought destruction and death in the area around Cassino and in the town itself. As to what our attitude should be towards these painful events, we should take as a point of reference the speech given by the Deputy Head of Mission of the Federal Republic of Germany, Irmgard Maria Fellner, at the German War Cemetery at Caira on 19 November 2017, the day of national mourning, which we would invite all to read on the Association's Facebook page."

    Pino Valente concludes : "After 74 years, having suffered the the loss of loved ones and fallen relatives as a result of the war, the modern generation, both Italian and foreign, is asking for reconciliation!".

    The president of the Region of Lazio, Nicola Zingaretti, has condemned the initiative with a note explaining that the "planned inauguration tomorrow of a commemorative plaque in the cave that hosted the German headquarters at Cassino is a serious gesture, an offence to the memory of the War of Liberation: I cannot, therefore, do other than condemn initiatives like this."
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  2. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake The Mayor of London's latest dress code

    This may be Italian politics. The local tourist industry of Cassino, Frosinione, - and I suspect most battlefield visitors see it entirely appropriate to advance reconciliation. There is much to admire about the defence of Casino by the Fallschirmjaeger, and its is the Allies whose morality is questioned.

    By contrast, the WW2 heritage of the Lazio region includes the Ardeatine Caves - and the plaques for the victims in each parish in Rome. Reconciliation has not gone as far as suggesting that the 33 Bolzano SS men killed on the Via Rasella with an IED by partisans are worthy of a plaque. This even though the SS men were Italian soldiers given Hobson's choice of staying on the Eastern Front in the Wehrmacht on the eastern front or becoming SS men in Italy.
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2018
  3. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    I concur with everything you've written here, Sheldrake .I am married ot an Italian and have lived permanently in Italy for over 20 years.
  4. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    I've read a great many accounts from 4th Ind Div men at Cassino that mention of the conduct of the Fallschirmjaeger, and a number of them mention their honourable behaviour on the battlefield: allowing the wounded to be evacuated under red cross flags, strictly respecting ceasefires and even exchanging tokens and respects with the men they were tasked to kill.

    I'm under no illusions about the atrocities of Nazism, but those Germans at Cassino were soldiers carrying out their duty in utterly hellish circumstances--they weren't shoveling bodies into ovens.
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  5. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Exactly. Shall I write a letter to Zingaretti? He's the brother of Luca Zingaretti, 'Inspector Montalbano', for anyone who watches the series. I think for someone who is the president of the Lazio Region his understanding of what happened there during WW2 is limited to say the least.

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  6. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member

    I am saddened to hear that Zingaretti opposes the erection of the plaque.

    As a former British Army Infantry Officer, and a seasoned battlefield guide at Cassino, I am full of admiration for the Fallshirmjaeger and their ability to endure whatever the Allies threw at them for so long. That their ability to endure and resist on the heights behind the Monastery and in Cassino town caused the death and maiming of many former members of my own Regiment is unfortunate, but that does not make them criminals. They merely demonstrated their professionalism as infanteers. They fought because they were ordered to and, whilst they had more than their fair share of fantastically loyal Nazis in their ranks this is not surprising given that, for most of them, it was all that they had ever known.

    The Fallshirmjaeger are proud of what they achieved at Cassino and I am confident that any soldier - whether he be British, American, Canadian, Pole or French, would be gracious enough to recognise their military achievement. The plaque is a recognition of that military achievement - and it really was quite something, rather than a statement in support of Nazism.


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  7. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    I will definitely write to Zingaretti and use your testimony, if I may, Frank.

  8. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member

    Please do.

  9. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake The Mayor of London's latest dress code

    I suggest you discuss it with your wife first.

    The stance taken by Casino itself is very much in line with that of the approach of the Liberation Route Europe, of which Casino is a partner. Liberation Route Europe However, attitudes towards reconciliation vary and can be controversial and milked for political effect.

    What would you want to achieve with your letter? Is it going to help or hinder by keeping the controversy live in the media? If you are not actually Italian how will a message of support for reconciliation be received?
  10. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Thank you Sheldrake for the link to Liberation Route Europe. It might not make much headway in Italy as there seems to be some historical and political confusion about exactly who did liberate the country. More on the topic of the plaque:

    Stop Press - tonight's 's prime time television news and a piece in todayìs Rome newspaper 'Il Messaggero':

    "Any initiative that might bring back unwanted memories and upset people in the town must be suspended". This appeal by the mayor of Cassino, Carlo Maria D'Alessandro, led to the suspension of the inauguration of the plaque in memory of the German paratroopers which was scheduled for today in Cassino and had immediately provoked a storm of controversy. Nazi-fascist history returns to torment the region of Lazio ... this time in Cassino where the Hoteliers Association wants to dedicate a plaque to the German paratroopers of 1944. "An Initiative of reconciliation," according to the organizers, "without any political agenda», by which all the victims would be remembered. But the ceremony, which was scheduled for today, in the town which paid a very high price during the Second World War, has infuriated the president of the region of Lazio, Nicola Zingaretti. "A serious gesture", he defined it when condemning the event. “An insult to the War of Liberation” according to the president of the Rome branch of the National Partisans' Association (ANPI). “The National Association is also involved – we are ready to report it to the judicial authorities”.

    I would discuss it with my wife if I had one. Instead I have an Italian husband, an ex marshal in the Italian Air Force. I would like the president of the Region of Lazio to spend a bit more time reading the history of the Second World War and a bit less listening to the line taken by his political party and their allies ANPI regarding the 'War of Liberation'.

    Vitellino (Janet Kinrade Dethick - google me)
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2018
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  11. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    I have e-mailed Zingaretti. I'll post his reply, if I get one.
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  12. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    I feel obliged to add my thoughts to this thread even though I think I have already stated my case here: Final thoughts on Monte Cassino & here at: BBC - WW2 People's War - Return to Cassino

    I was one of the lucky ones who survived their stint at Monte Cassino and have been back just the once to pay homage to comrades at the British cemetery.

    I put myself in the place of those who did not survive the war against Nazi-ism and ask myself how they would feel about the proposed plaque.

    Lest we forget !

  13. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member


    I thought you would reply. I have just two things to add.

    Should we spare a thought for the families of the paratroopers who come to Cassino and need to see the area where their relative fought and was killed?

    Should we allow to pass without comment the fact that certain Italian politicians never lose an opportunity to talk about the 'Liberation' in terms which seem to exclude the Allied troops and their sacrifice?

    As you probably know, I live here and am very sensitive to certain 'atmospheres' . There is a widespread lack of understanding as to what actually took place between the landings in Sicily and the end of the war in 1945 and there is always someone ready to fill the gap with propaganda.

  14. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron


    There is a proverb in the English language that goes " Circumstances alter cases"

    If I had been born the son of a Fallschirmjaeger and was visiting Cassino for the first time to see the place where my father, perhaps, had been killed then I would probably consider the placing there of a plaque to be an excellent idea.

    But, as is pretty evident, this was never to be the case with me.

    I was born into a Jewish family who's five boys were to serve in the Forces and, as I have frequently written, I lost a much loved brother who died in his Lancaster during the closing stages of the war. In addition my family tree displays many entries marked with the simple heading "Died in the Holocaust"

    At my present age I am hardly likely to change my mind or my feelings about Cassino or indeed WW2 in general and, as always when discussing matters like this will close by saying

    Lest we forget !


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  15. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Thanks Ron.

  16. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    I found on the German War Graves Commission - German War Graves Commission - Wikipedia - that there are a number of German cemeteries in Italy:

    Italy – World War II
    it: Cimitero Militare Germanico della Futa (Total burials: 30,683)
    it: Cimitero militare germanico di Pomezia (Total burials: 27,443)
    it: Cimitero militare tedesco di Costermano (Total burials: 22,028)
    it: Cimitero militare germanico di Motta Sant'Anastasia (Total burials: 4,561)

    Are any of these near to Cassino - ??

  17. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

    This isn't the full list.

    There is, of course, a German military cemetery at Caira underneath Monte Castellone - the photo here is one I took when I went there in May 2014.

    Attached Files:

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  18. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Just noted from looking around that there is a German War Cemetery at Cassino

    German War Cemetery Cassino - Caira -
    The German Cemetery (Kriegsgräberstätte) Cassino is situated in Caira at 3 kilometers north of the town of Cassino. The graveyard has been created on a hill and comprises the graves of 20.027 that fell in action

  19. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member


    I am confident that the plaque is not intended to glorify the actions of the German Army at Cassino but merely to remember the soldiers who served there, many of whom died doing their duty.

    I think we should be magnanimous enough to recognise the contribution that these soldiers made to holding the Gustav Line for five months - because, in military terms, it was a superb achievement.

    The German nation has come a long way since the war and remains genuinely remorseful about what happened under the Nazi regime. We should remember that Hitler came to power with only 33% of the vote in 1933 so the majority of German were appalled by him.


    Last edited: Mar 21, 2018
  20. Stuart Avery

    Stuart Avery In my wagon & not a muleteer.

    What struck me about the above Cemetery, was the size of the headstones. They are rather on the small size in all dimensions. Also, the number of soldiers that are in one grave. Names on both sides of the headstone (sometimes up-to seven in one). I went along with Frank last year, & found the place rather different.

    I enclose some photos of the memorial that is east of the Flyover at Anzio. It looks has if they don't have a problem in doing so. Looks as if Zingaretti needs to have look.The only thing is, a S is missing off the end of the English engraving.:oops:.. I'm useless at reading German, or Italian.


    Last edited: Mar 25, 2018

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