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Alfonsine: the Senio battle

At the end of the Second World War, namely during the last four months of the conflict, the lower part of the Senio river was the furthest outpost of the allied troops advancing from the south towards the north of the country.

The celebrating emphasis of the first epigraphers defined this line as the “border of free Italy”. Actually it was more like a life bridge connecting the Adriatic coast and the Comacchio valleys to the Apennines, preventing thus the liberation of the Po Valley.

The villages of Alfonsine, Fusignano, Lugo, Cotignola, Solarolo, Castel Bolognese and Riolo dei Bagni were in the middle of this battlefield and were almost totally destroyed. The civilian death toll was extremely high because of the long battles, the allied air raids and the landmines left by the Germans.

In spite of the danger, poverty and isolation, the population did not leave this area during the months of the military frontline.  This was one of the last defensive lines kept by the German until the very end during the whole Italian campaign.

Outposts along the Senio river were crucial to the Germans because they allowed them full control on the surrounding area within a radius of several kilometres. Thanks to this strategic positioning the Germans were able to fight until the spring of 1945 when finally, on April 10, 1945, the allied troops broke through and in a few days the big northern cities.

A peculiar feature of this area along the Senio river was the presence, next to the Nazi and fascist  occupying troops, of many allied troops coming from several Commonwealth countries: apart from the English soldiers of the 56th and 78th Divisions there were also the 8th Indian Division, the 2nd New Zealander Division, two Polish divisions, Canadian units, later replaced by a Jewish brigade, and from January 1945 of two Fighting Groups of the new Italian army made of partisans of the 28th Garibaldi Brigade.

In Alfonsine a special Museum devoted to the Senio Battle and a large monument in the main square celebrate this important military event and also the contribution made by the local civilian population to the fight for freedom.  

 

Texts by the Historical Institute of Resistance and Contemporary Age of Ravenna and its Province 

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