THE PATHS OF MEMORY
Curated by Fabio Mariotti
1944 is remembered in Umbertide as the most dramatic year in the history of the city. World War II brought with it a long trail of blood, destruction and despair due to the tragic events that preceded the liberation of the city on July 5th.
The allied bombing of Borgo San Giovanni, in the heart of the city, with 70 dead; the retaliation of Serra Partucci, with 5 dead; the massacre of Penetola, with 12 deaths; the massacre of Monsiano, with 8 deaths. Another 6 civilians lost their lives between 3 and 15 July in the territory between Preggio, Monestevole and Montemigiano. Sigifrido Bartocci, killed by German soldiers on May 8 near Civitella Ranieri and then many other civilian victims of bombings, cannonades and the explosion of grenades in Umbertide and in the surrounding areas (for details see "the Atlas of Memory" by Alvaro Tacchini) .
To all of them, involuntary heroes of human madness, and to their families, we dedicate these paths of memory, so as not to forget and to pass them on to new generations.
The bombing of Borgo San Giovanni
Twelve British Curtiss P - 40 Kittyhawk aircraft departed from the Cutella field airport in Puglia to destroy the road bridge over the Tiber and make it more difficult for the Germans to retreat.
It was April 25, 1944. A date that the people of Umbria will not forget.
Between 9 and 9.30 the allied squadron flew over the sky of Umbertide, with its load of two large-caliber bombs per plane (a total of about 4 tons of explosives). After several vaults above Romeggio, the planes headed towards Serra Partucci, in favor of the sun, from which they swooped down towards the bridge over the Tiber. But the bombs (as Roberto Sciurpa wrote in his volume “Umbertide in the 20th century 1900 - 1946) were not yet“ intelligent ”(if ever there will be intelligent bombs) and they often missed the target.
This unfortunately also happened to Umbertide. The bombs, dropped at regular intervals of about 30 seconds between one couple and the other, instead of hitting the bridge, all but two ended up above the houses in the historic center. It was a massacre. 70 people, including 46 women, were buried under the rubble.
The spectacle that presented itself to the first responders was tremendous. Hideously mutilated bodies lay on the square and the hamlet of San Giovanni was a heap of smoking rubble from which moans and invocations for help rose. Despite the fright and the risk of new bombings, the people did their utmost to help the wounded and extract the bodies of the fallen from the rubble, placing them temporarily around the Collegiate Church. It was a race against time because the bridge remained intact and the planes could reappear at any moment. This happened in the afternoon, at 4 pm, and this time the bombs spared the town but did not succeed in destroying the road bridge whose north arch was only destroyed on April 30th.
So many deaths, so much pain, a devastated community, due to a military action which is probably useless and which has not even reached the set goal. This is war. These are what we now call "side effects" that always and inexorably affect civilians, the most defenseless people. To avoid these effects too, there is only one universal system, stop wars and always work for peace.
The list of the 70 victims:
Pupils Pierucci Antonio, Arrunategni Rivas Mario, Baiocco Giulia, Banelli Anna, Banelli Amleto, Barattini Scartocci Neodemia, Barbagianni Antonio, Bartoccioli Giulia, Bebi Ceccarelli Elda, Bebi Luciano, Bebi Fileni Maria Domenica, Bebi Banelli Tecla, Bendini Annunziata, Bernacchi Maria Anna, Bernacchi Benedetto, Bernacchi Raffaele, Bernacchi Valentino, Boldrini Cecilia, Boldrini Bellezzi Elisabetta, Boncristiani Tommasi Rosa, Borgarelli Armede Gina, Borgarelli Ester, Cambiotti Amalia, Caprini Selleri Assunta, Ceccarelli Marianella, Ceccarelli Rosanna, Ciocchetti Fausto, Ciocchetti Giuseppe, Cozzari Galmacci Veronica Cozzari Verginia, Donnini Domenico, Donnini Gianfranco, Fagioli Franca, Ferrari Alfonso, Galmacci Realino, Gambucci Ubaldo, Grandi Giuseppina, Leonessa Licinio, Bernacchi Marianna manuals, Anna Paola screeds, Mastriforti Cambiotti Marianna, Mazzanti Graziella, Merli Mazzanti Argentina, Mischianti Angelo, Mischianti Ida, Monfeli Galeno, Montanucci Fiorucci Felicia, Mortini Elvira, Orlandi Sonaglia Augusta, Palazzetti Bernacchi Angela, Palazzetti Assunta, Pambuffetti Giovanna, Perini Giuseppe, Pierotti Coletti Giulia, Porrini Elisei Assunta, Renato Simonucci Bergasina, Renga Rosalinda, Renzini Pazzi Maria, Romitelli Rina, Rondini Mischianti Luisa, Sabbiniani Santini Leopolda Batazzi Letizia, Scartocci Mario, Selleri Angelo, Selleri Giuseppe, Selleri Pasquale, Tognaccini Delma Beans, Tognaccini Barbagianni Zarelia, Violins Lina, Villarini Bruno.
- Mario Tosti: "Beautiful works" - Ed. Municipality of Umbertide - 1995
- Mario Tosti: “Our ordeal” - Ed. Petruzzi - Città di Castello
- Roberto Sciurpa: "Umbertide in the 20th century 1900 - 1946" -
Ed. GESP - 2006
Photo by Roberto Balducci from the volume by Bruno Porrozzi
"Umbertide in the pictures - from the 16th century to the present day -
Pro loco Umbertide - 1977
The plaque commemorating the victims
On the rubble in search of survivors
On the right, the ruins of the hamlet of San Giovanni
Right, below, via Cibo after the bombing
Left, below. the ruins of the sacristy of the Collegiate
The retaliation of Serra Partucci
June 24, 1944 was Saturday. In Serra Partucci, St. John the Baptist was celebrated and the day before, according to the ancient custom, the petals of the wildflowers were collected and soaked in a basin. With that scented water the next morning we washed.
So did the inhabitants of the Serra who that Saturday had gathered in the small church for the mass celebrated by Don Giuseppe Filippi.
Suddenly some Germans with their commander had entered the church and, screaming, they had
made everyone go out into the open, arranging them in a row in front of the soldiers with their weapons drawn.
The German officer, in broken Italian, explained what was happening. A German soldier on a motorcycle nearby had been injured on the road the day before. So, although he was not dead, the inhuman law of retaliation had taken place which provided for the shooting of 5 hostages for the wounded German (in case of death there would have been 10). Since four "banditen" had already been arrested, they had come to take the fifth.
It must be said, to tell the truth, that the Germans had already arrested five hostages but one of these, Quinto Centovalli, was without a hand and the Germans had decided to exclude him from being shot.
The choice among those present at the mass fell on Domenico Cernich , a young 26-year-old tailor from Gorizia who was in Umbertide, together with his brothers, awaiting the arrival of the allies.
Domenico, together with Radicchi Mario (24 years - farmer), Radicchi Giuseppe (17 years - farmer), Centovalli Natale (20 years - student) and Ciribilli Domenico (26 years - tailor) were taken to the tobacco dryer and tricidated here. from a few bursts of machine gun.
At eight in the morning, the five bodies were transported to the Serra cemetery on two oxen-drawn treks.
A stele and a stone commemorate the terrible retaliation.
In the memorial stone, built in the twentieth anniversary of the Resistance, these words are written:
“Here the German barbarian left gruesome memories of unfair retaliation. Five innocent young people fell victim to his fury on June 24, 1944. Justice, prayer, peace invoke the missing from the survivors. "
The door of the church
The wall of the shooting
The massacre of Penetola
What is exposed in these pages is the story of an Umbrian family and its tragic encounter with history. Aspects and circumstances will be common to many other Italians and the story is one that all those who lived in 1944 can bear witness.
In recounting the particular experiences of some individuals unknown to them, I hope to pass on to my children and those of my peers a less sterile and more aware knowledge of the final stages of the Second World War and of the positive social and democratic transformations of Italian society.
Because, even the humblest of Italian citizens, emerging from the war and the fascist dictatorship supported by the values of democracy and the Republican Constitution, were able to overcome grief and injustice, free themselves from medieval social practices and, in just two generations, provide children and grandchildren all the opportunities that only a free and democratic society can offer.
The great story, the one known to all of us in broad or broad terms, is a set of small, sometimes very large, personal stories. They constitute the shared collective memory or, in other cases, divided, of a nation. Putting order and seeking the objective truth in each of these little stories will prevent anyone who has a petty interest in them from mystifying the irrefutable reality of events and, for the younger generations, from forgetting what has been, drawing the necessary teaching from it.
In the night between 27 and 28 June 1944, in the Umbrian high Tiber, in a farmhouse called Penetola di Niccone, six kilometers north-east of Umbertide, twelve people were brutally killed by soldiers belonging to the 305th engineers battalion of the army. German stationed in the Niccone valley.
The operational dynamics of the massacre are today to our knowledge, while strong doubts and perplexities remain about the causes and modalities of the massacre itself, in many respects atypical compared to the many others that the German army stained itself during the retreat towards the line. Gothic in the summer of 1944.
One of the most atrocious episodes among those that occurred in Umbria during the Second World War took place in Penetola. As with many "hidden" massacres of the war on civilians that broke out in Italy after 8 September 1943, even in the survivors of the Penetola massacre the anger of not knowing the culprits burned and in that of their descendants, like me, the desire to appease that same anger which, after so many years, prevented the definitive overcoming of mourning.
Never, not even for a moment, in the course of the search for truth, was I driven by a desire for revenge against the moral or material perpetrators of the massacre. I just wanted and had to replace those who should have investigated and have not done it, not knowing or not wanting to do it.
The former also belonged to my family, who lacked the strength, the education, the boldness and the money to open doors that they should have found wide open.
To the latter, to those who have preferred to remain silent, to those who have chosen not to choose, to those who have disinterested themselves by evading their duty, I can only say that they would have known and could have done better and more at the moment and in the right place. ...............
(Introduction from the book "Tre Nuts" by Paola Avorio)
- Paola Avorio: “Three walnuts” - Ed. Petruzzi - Città di Castello - 2011
- Giovanni Bottaccioli: "Penetola, not all the dead die" -
Municipality of Umbertide, 2005
Ivory Antonio, by Mario, 11 years
Ivory Carlo, by Mario, 8 years
Ivory Renato, by Mario, 14 years
Forni Canzio, by Edoardo, 58 years
Forni Edoardo, from Canzio, 16 years
Forni Ezio, from Canzio, 21 years
Luchetti Guido, from Avellino, 18 years
Nencioni Conforto, from Menotti, 36 years old
Nencioni Eufemia, from Menotti, 44 years
Nencioni Ferruccio, from Menotti, 46 years
Ferrini Milena, wife of Ferruccio Nencioni, 41 years
Renzini Erminia, widow of Menotti Nencioni, 68 years
The cottage, the memorial stone and the plaque commemorating the massacre
Paola Avorio during the presentation of her book
On the right, the inscription on the memorial stone the massacre (1974)
Below, two internal images of the farmhouse theater of the massacre
The massacre of Monsiano (Preggio)
In 2015, on the occasion of the centenary of the beginning of the First World War, throughout Italy and also in Europe, the need was felt to witness the tragic events, especially those still unknown, of missing and forgotten innocent people. For this reason it was decided to commemorate with a plaque a little-known massacre that took place in our territory in Monsiano, not far from Preggio, on 4 July 1944, during the passage of the front and the retreat of the Germans to the north. A bombardment by the allied forces hit a cottage where a couple of fleeing Germans were hiding.
The entire rural building, now rebuilt, was razed to the ground, exterminating an entire family, the spouses Gelindo Braconi and Isolina Bellezzi and their six children, Maria (4 years), Anna (8), Lorenzo (11), Francesco (14 ), Rina (16), Luigina (19).
The plaque commemorating this terrible event was applied to a small rocky boulder, located at the intersection of the provincial road with the local road that leads to Monsiano.
The Municipal Administration and the population of Preggio thus wanted to bear witness to all those who, by stopping in front of the plaque, will be able to learn about the history of this family from Preggio and its tragic destiny.
The ceremony was attended by the mayor of Umbertide Marco Locchi, Alberto Bufali, president of the Pro loco di Preggio and promoter, together with the Municipality and the Città di Castello section of the national association for fallen and war missing families, of the commemoration, the regional president Rosanna Tonnetti, Gianfranco Braconi, family member of the victims of the massacre, Paola Milli and Pierino Monaldi from the “Venanzo Gabriotti” Institute of Political and Social History in Città di Castello, of the National Association of Families Fallen and Missing from War. The inauguration was accompanied by the blessing given by the parish priest of Preggio Don Francesco Bastianoni and by the deposition of a crown at the foot of the tombstone on the notes of the trumpet of the master Galliano Cerrini. During the ceremony, Mario Tosti and Alvaro Tacchini were also thanked for their valuable historical research on the events that occurred in Preggio on July 4th seventy-one years ago.
Alvaro Tacchini: "Tiffernate history and more" website
The memorial stone that commemorates the tragic event
The manifesto for the inauguration of the cippus
Atlas of memory
by Alvaro Tacchini
Atlas of memory: Upper Tiber Valley 1943-1944
curated by Fabio Mariotti
For those who want to deepen the historical events in the Upper Tiber Valley in the period 1943-44, a new work by the historian Alvaro Tacchini is of great interest, which is part of the research carried out on the war period. In fact, Tacchini has included most of the texts of the volume “War and Resistance in the Upper Tiber Valley” on his website “Tifernate History”. Furthermore, so that the events, tragedies and the struggle for freedom of the last conflict can be better disclosed on a popular and educational level, he has created a splendid interactive map, entitled " Atlas of Memory. Upper Tiber Valley 1943-1944 " .
This is an online map, built on satellite photography of the Upper Tiber Valley. Identify the main events of that two-year period with specific symbols, identifying in detail the places where they took place. It also makes it possible to deepen its contents with links that open to texts taken from his book on this topic.
The main events in the Umbertide area are also carefully included in the map, as well as the lists of civilian victims and partisans.
Below is the link for the home page of the site. To access the interactive map just click on the box at the bottom left.