Italy was determined to turn over a new leaf, but 1944 began with US forces landing at Anzio on 22 January. The Germans opposed a tenacious resistance on the Gustav Line, which was strongly hit: eventually, on 15 February, the abbey of Montecassino was bombed and destroyed, causing many civilian victims. Only a month later, the same fate awaited the city of Cassino, which was virtually razed to the ground by strong explosions.
In May, the Gustav Line was broken down right in Cassino, and the allies started heading towards Rome. The city of Cassino was reduced to a pile of rubble and nothing of its old appearance was preserved.
It was on 4 June when the allies, led by General Mark Wayne Clark, liberated Rome without encountering any resistance, being instead welcomed with enthusiasm by the Roman population. The Germans, with Kesserling, were therefore forced to retreat to the north.
Meanwhile, the Japanese too were forced to abandon the occupied territories, while on the eastern front the Red Army was heading towards the Balkans and Central Europe, pointing to Germany.
1944 was for the Allies the year of opening of the second front after the Italian one. Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill planned the Normandy landings to be put in place between 5 and 6 June. This operation was called “Operation Overlord”. The Germans found themselves wrong-footed and, after only two months of fighting, the Allies broke through the enemy defences and began the conquest of northern France. It was on 26 August when the Allies and General De Gaulle entered Paris, and, around mid-September, France was completely free.
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11 January – Verona: Galeazzo Ciano, Emilio De Bono, Giovanni Marinelli, Carlo Pareschi and Luciano Gottardi are executed enforcing the judgment of the Special Court.
12 January – Italy: the Battle of Monte Cassino begins
24 January: Sandro Pertini and Giuseppe Saragat escape from the Regina Coeli prison.
25 January: the Gestapo arrests in Rome Colonel Giuseppe Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, the head of the military conspiracy centre, who will then be killed at the Fosse Ardeatine.
20 March: an eruption of Vesuvius seriously damages the towns of Terzigno, Pompei, Scafati, Angri, Nocera Inferiore, Nocera Superiore, Pagani, Poggiomarino and Cava de’ Tirreni.
12 April: King Vittorio Emanuele III announces on the radio his abdication in favour of his son, Umberto II, to be implemented soon after the liberation of Rome.
6 May: the daily newspaper “Il Tempo” is established in Rome.
2 July: in Los Angeles, Norman Granz, an American producer and record company owner, organises the Jazz at the Philharmonic concert (aka “JATP”), one of the most important moments in the history of jazz.
2 December: death of Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, founder of the Futurist movement.
Institution of the Golden Globe awards for cinema.
Sweden: the law of 1864 that criminalised homosexuality is abolished.
Discovery of the first antihistamine. Daniel Bovet, at the Institut Pasteur in Paris, discovers the antihistamine effects of pyrilamine (mepyramine), effective against allergic reactions.
First artificial kidney. Designed and built by the Dutch doctor Willem Kolf, it is a real artificial organism able to mechanically purify the patient’s blood from the metabolic waste present in it in cases of renal failure and acute kidney injury, in which usual therapies would prove ineffective.
The Second World War
In the course of the two decades from 1920 to 1939, Europe saw the development of all the preconditions that would soon trigger the Second World War.
A devastating conflict, fought with modern weapons, which involved for the first time the entire civilian population.
World War II was fought from 1 September 1939 to 8 May 1945 in Europe, and from 7 December 1941 to 2 September 1945 in Asia. Germany, Italy and Japan, united in the Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis, were destroyed by the conflict, while the United States, the USSR and Great Britain would thereafter define the new world order.
During the conflict, Hitler maintained a ferocious conduct, claiming that the Aryan race was superior to all other races. Millions of people were interned in concentration camps, the most famous of which being Auschwitz. Italy was the theatre of war starting in 1943, when it was virtually divided in two, namely: the Kingdom of the South to the south, and Mussolini’s Republic of Salò to the north. The line that separated the peninsula was called the Gustav Line, which was completely broken down when the city of Cassino suffered heavy bombing.
Following numerous battles fought over seven years of war, the latter came to an end with the Japanese massacre: the USA actually dropped the first terrible atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
A project funded by
Azione 3.3.1, Sub azione b
“Progetto integrato per la valorizzazione culturale di speciali tematismi”.
“Atelier Arte Bellezza e Cultura” DE n. G04911
Atelier di riferimento:
Cassino “Atelier Memory Gate – Porta della Memoria”
DBG Management & Consulting srl
They collaborated with providing photos and editorial work:
Ass. Culturale CDSC
Centro Documentazione Studi Cassinati – ONLUS
Gaetano De Angelis Curtis – Presidente
Giovanni D’Orefice – Coordinatore
Alberto Mangiante – Collezionista – Segretario
Emilio Pistilli – Pres. Onorario
Fernando Sidonio – Tesoriere
Giovanni Petrucci – Pres. Onorario
Franco Di Giorgio
They also provided photographic material:
Archivio Mario Alberigo
Maria Luisa Calabrese
Archivio Antonio Ferraro