The massacres in occupied Italy in the memory of their perpetrators

Fondazione Scuola di Pace di Monte Sole // Peace School Foundation of Monte Sole under the leading guide of Dr. Carlo Gentile from University of Cologne

Screenshot of the website © 2024 Project “The German Massacres in Occupied Italy (1943-45) in the Memory of the Perpetrators”


Between 9 September 1943 and 2 May 1945, during the occupation of Italy, some SS and Wehrmacht troops were responsible for heinous massacres of civilians: they killed in particular women, children and the elderly.

This project was born from the collection of voices, images and testimonies of German soldiers in Italy and in particular of the Täter [perpetrators, authors] of those massacres. Diaries and wartime letters, but also court depositions, interviews and journalistic enquiries, carried out from the immediate post-war period until the 2000s, are used as sources to investigate mentalities and delve into the mechanisms of violence.

The project has deep roots: it is part of the initiatives stemming from the Italian-German Historical Commission created in 2009 by the Italian and German Foreign Ministers. In 2012, at the conclusion of the Commission’s work, the government of the Federal Republic of Germany undertook to set up an ‘Italian-German fund for the future’ at the Federal Foreign Ministry to finance initiatives on the history and memory of relations between the two countries during World War II.

Inspired by the Commission’s recommendations, this project aims to contribute to the development of a new culture of remembrance between Italy and Germany. In fact, if in Germany the massacres of civilians committed by the German army on the Italian front are little known, in Italy the actual perpetrators are little known. We therefore propose to relate the memorial cultures of the two countries in order to broaden scientific and educational perspectives.

But the roots of this project go even further back in time, linking up with the efforts made from the second half of the 1990s to the early 2000s by Italian and German historians, together with journalists, to spread knowledge in the two countries about the crimes committed by Nazi Germany’s armed forces during the occupation of Italy.

Target Groups

The project is working with different types of target groups.

First of all, reasearchers and professional educators organise seminars and workshops for practitioners and experts in the subject, such as colleagues from museums, memorials, places of memories.

At the same time, workshops are build to help middle and high schools teachers to deepen the subject with their students.

Daily and residential workshops are then organised directly in Monte Sole, the place of the biggest Nazi massacre in Western Europe during the WWII, addressed to different groups of students: from middle school students, to university and even graduated ones, everyone is invited to deepen the question how was it possible, how is it still possible? analysing the authors biographies and context.

Finally, artistic elaboration of the subject (made by the theater company Archviozeta) is meant to reach amore general public of citizens.


The website is created out of the scientific historical research done by the team of researches guided by Dr. Carlo Gentile. They collected and analyse all the documents and the materials now visible and readable.

Seminars for experts and teachers are mainly done online, with a calendar of meetings, each one dealing with a subtheme, hosting guest voices and experiences and creating space for dialogue and discussions.
Sometimes, such seminars are organised also in Monte Sole and in other places of memory to link the theory with the experience on the field.

Workshops for students are always held in person. We work in small groups ( 1 educator every 15 students top), with non formal methods, promoting dialogue and cooperative activities.

Art is used in an experiencial way too, and performances are often offered not in classic theaters but in meaningful places, with also walking parts.

Language(s) of the project

The website is at the moment in Italian and German, soon in English.

Seminars and workshops are delivered or in Italian or in English, depending on the participating groups.

Art is performed in Italian.