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Argenta is devastated by the allied bombing raid of April 12, 1945, hundreds of civilians die and the whole urban and historic heritage is almost totally destroyed. The tragic situation of that time was clearly expressed by the dramatic words of the Mayor, Mr Antonio Dalle Vacche (1945-1960): on April 18, 1945: "when the fascists and the Germans left for good our devastated land, Argenta still existed only on a map, actually it was reduced to a vast cemetery of houses and people, and probably the appalling exact number of victims will never be known for sure."

The German command occupies Argenta in October 1944. All sorts of requisitions start, from animals to wood and food supplies, from linen to tableware, stoves, bicycles. Moreover, evacuation orders of Argenta, Bando, Boccaleone, Filo and San Biagio are issued. On the one hand, arrests, roundups and the constant promotion of betrayal lead to the destruction of allied bearings such as public buildings, bridges, and industrial facilities, houses that are close to "sensitive" targets. On the other, all the fit men between 18 and 65 years of age are ordered to work on the defensive line.

After the Armistice announced on September 8, 1943, the Resistance movement strikes back, partisans start to fight favoured by a geographical area whose morphology is ideal for both defending and attacking because the enemy does not like to venture out in that desert, with no streets, where high reeds and narrow paths facilitate assaults, as recalls Antonio Meluschi, head of the battalion capo “Mario Babini” (Garibaldi Brigade 35 bis) between the end of October 1944 and spring 1945, when the German command fighting against the Allied around the Senio river finally occupies Argenta. The so-called “Argenta gap" (a triangle-shaped area between Argenta, Bando and Longastrino) is a flat area with a main road leading to Ferrara and some zones below sea level, a narrow corridor between the Comacchio valleys, to the east, and the Marmorta Valleys, to the west.

The Germans decide to flood those areas to reduce northbound access for defensive reasons, put mines on over 2,000 hectares of land and create defensive lines along the residual part of the "Gothic line" (from Ligurian  Sea to the Senio valley along the Apennines) and along the Gengis Khan line" (from Mesola along the Adriatic coast to the Reno river) beyond which there is the "Argenta gap". The hard allied offensive begins with the English attack in the Comacchio valleys on April 2, 1945, in order to try to bypass the "Argenta gap", long before the Senio attack on April 9, from Anita - liberated on the 7th - and Boscoforte. Argenta is the only transit point between the Comacchio and Campotto valleys, the last defence outpost against the allied advance, whose bombing raids become more frequent especially from April 9 on. On the ground the Allies cross Senio river, occupy Lugo, Alfonsine, Massalombarda, Menate di Filo and on April 12 Argent is attacked. On April 18, 1945, the allied forces enter Argenta.

 

Texts by the Institute of Contemporary History of Ferrara

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