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Russi and San Pancrazio : the war on civilians

During the final phase of the Second World War, in November 1944, after liberating Cervia and Forlì, the Allied troops want to advance in the Po Valley, therefore they fight along three northbound lines: the Adriatic Road, the Emilia Road and the San Vitale road.

In order to try to reach Bologna as soon as possible, they also targeted the line connecting Russi, Bagnacavalllo, Lugo and Massa Lombarda.

The withdrawing Germans, who were leaving the defensive lines along the rivers considered those days as the eve of their final defeat and decided to leave nothing but ruins behind them. Therefore, they destroyed, looted and racked these areas with special fury.

Entire farming families were killed and their houses looted from food and supplies.

Between San Pancrazio and Russi the retaliations and blow-ups of the last month killed over sixty innocent people who simply sheltered some partisans or tried to protect their poultry from being stolen.

One of the bloodies episodes happened at Casa Gardelli and Fornaci, on the Montone river, where 24 people were killed by the Germans during the night of November 14 and then their bodies were burnt under a haystack and only three days after that another 13 people were arrested and  mowed down at Casa Capra on November 17, 1944.

The brutal killing of civilians went on through the first week of December when the 2 Canadian units , of the 5th armoured division reached San Pancrazio and some units of the 1st Infantry Division liberated Russi on December 3, 1944.

Ravenna was liberated on December 4 and Bagnacavallo on the 21, then the whole war front remained stuck between the Lamone and Senio rivers for four endless months.


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


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