Raid of the Ghetto of Rome

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There are two sad elements to this story.

A-As so oft before during WWII victims had been given a sense of hope, often false hope given by the Nazi’s to even inflict psychological terror upon the physical crimes. However in this case the hope was given by the allies.

B. So very little is known about this event, just the numbers and no names.

On 10 July 1943, a combined force of American and British Commonwealth troops invaded Sicily.

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German generals again took the lead in the defense and, although they lost the island after weeks of bitter fights, they succeeded in ferrying large numbers of German and Italian forces safely off Sicily to the Italian mainland. On 19 July, an Allied air raid on Rome destroyed both military and collateral civil installations. With these two events, popular support for the war diminished in Italy.

On 25 July, the Grand Council of Fascism voted to limit the power of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini and handed control of the Italian armed forces over to King Victor Emmanuel III.

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The next day Mussolini met with the King, was dismissed as prime minister, and was then imprisoned. A new Italian government, led by General Pietro Badoglio and Victor Emmanuel III, took over in Italy. Although they publicly declared that they would keep fighting alongside the Germans, the new Italian government began secret negotiations with the Allies to come over to the Allied side.On 3 September, a secret armistice was signed with the Allies at Fairfield Camp in Sicily. The armistice was publicly announced on 8 September. By then, the Allies were on the Italian mainland, giving hope to the Jews in Rome, hope that they would be liberated soon.

Only two months after Mussolini had been dismissed and arrested, he was rescued from his prison at the Hotel Campo Imperatore in the Gran Sasso raid by a special Fallschirmjäger (paratroopers) unit on 12 September 1943; present was Otto Skorzeny.

Otto Skorzeny

The rescue saved Mussolini from being turned over to the Allies, as per the armistice.

Three days following his rescue in the Gran Sasso raid, Mussolini was taken to Germany for a meeting with Hitler in Rastenburg at his East Prussian headquarters. Despite public professions of support, Hitler was clearly shocked by Mussolini’s disheveled and haggard appearance as well as his unwillingness to go after the men in Rome who overthrew him. Feeling that he had to do what he could to blunt the edges of Nazi repression, Mussolini agreed to set up a new regime, the Italian Social Republic.

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The RSI was proclaimed on 23 September 1943. Although the RSI claimed most of the lands of Italy as rightfully belonging to it, it held political control over a vastly reduced portion of Italy.The RSI received diplomatic recognition from only Germany, Japan and their puppet states.

Just over 3 weeks later the Jewish ghetto in Rome was raided

On October 16, 1943, the Raid of the Ghetto of Rome occurred. 1,259 members of the Jewish community including 363 men, 689 women and 207 children were captured by the Gestapo. SS Captain Theodor Dannecker ordered that the ghetto be emptied.

Trucks pulled up on the cobblestoned piazza beside the Portico d’Ottavia, the neighborhood was sealed, and 365 German soldiers fanned out through the narrow streets and courtyards. Families hid at the backs of their shuttered shops. The able-bodied and quick-witted jumped from their windows or fled along the rooftops. The unlucky were hounded from their homes at gunpoint and herded into the idling trucks.

Of these, 1,023 were deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp; only 15 men and one woman survived.

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