Part 12

19 Days from the Apennines to the Alps -- The story of the Po Valley Campaign

As the next part of the booklet tells about the Italian civilians and the partisans, I need to make a short break out of the booklet again!

The Germans, of course, did also address the Italians (Civilians and Partisans) to win them (back) for the Axis case. In general, this was done by discrediting the "Anglo - American" forces.
Underneath I will depict a few of these Axis leaflets.

As I do not have original translations, I did get a few rough translations done by collector friends on the internet.
As the translations are not scans, I will incorporate them in the text as "*****Leaflet translation*****"

Enjoy! And lets go on with the booklet:

German leaflet, aimed at Italian civilians, original language
Picture. German leaflet, aimed at Italian civilians, original language (Milano dialect).
See translation in text.
This leaflet refers to the killing of 300 children in Milano by allied planes. I am not sure of
what FACTS are behind this leaflet. Anybody who can tell me more, I ask to contact me!
(coll. Moonen)

Our informal allies

Modern military campaigns have a way of being chronicled in terms of cities captured. The Russian campaign, for example, was one long recital of sieges, first by the Germans, later by the Russians. The Po Valley campaign was unique in that not one important city needed to be besieged; not one put up a protracted, determined resistance. Most were + occupied ; rather than + captured ;, some with virtually no fighting, others after sharp conflict with enemy rearguard troops. In some cases, notably that of Milan, our forward elements sped through without stopping, intent upon the primary objective of cutting off and destroying the retreating enemy.

Leaflet translation: "Vendetta"


Beautiful little school in Gorla, in the middle of meadows,
full of happy and (?) kids
you don't exist anymore!... your little angels
have flown like a multitude of sparrows
in Heaven. The Hell they have left
to their moms and dads who are desperate.

What have you done for the war
since when you have come to this Earth
to give a little joy to your parents?
What did you have to do with it? Nothing!...
And still they made you die. Why?
You were Italians and that's all; that's why.

And we have to stay here still
with hands in hands (i.e.: without doing anything); let them take down
together with our homes, our creations (children?)
Are we men or sheep? Let's hold out
with our combatants and let's go to work
with supreme resolution: VENGEANCE AND FREEDOM!


"(In occasion of the slaughter of 300 children by Anglo-American bombers on Oct. the 20th, 1944 in the school of Gorla =Milano=)"

The campaign would have lasted materially longer, and many more American lives would have been lost, had this not been the case. The catalogue of these cities reads like a tourist's guide to Northern Italy. Not one of outstanding importance was still fully in enemy hands at the time of the surrender.

First was Bologna, gateway to the Po Valley, a main highway center, and symbol of all that the Army had been striving for during the long winter of 1944-45. Its fall was almost anticlimactic. The Germans, finding themselves in an untenable position, withdrew and the Allies had the city under control in a few hours. The citizens promenaded up and down the streets, parading a little, cheering a little, peering curiously at American troops and their equipment, but generally accepting their liberation as calmly as a movie star accepts a fan letter.

From Bologna to Verona, from Vicenza to Milan, it was this way. To one who did not know how and why it happened the circumstances would appear incredible. Bologna, Modena and Mantua; Verona, Vicenza, Treviso and Cremona; Reggio, Parma, Piacenza; Brescia, Bergamo, Milan and Turin; La Spezia and Genoaall these and others fell to the Fifth Army in seventeen days, and all without a siege. How did it happen? What made the enemy evacuate city after city, until at the end he was for the most part milling in bewildered fashion about the countryside?

German leaflet, aimed at Italian partisans, original language German leaflet, aimed at Italian partisans, original language
Picture. German leaflet, aimed at Italian partisans, original language. Front and reverse. See translation in text.
This leaflet can be dated around New Year 1944-1945
(coll. Moonen)
Leaflet translation: "Partigiani"


of all the valleys and of all ideas!

while your English 'friends' throw onto
you their disdain, while Alexander
denies you supplies and Churchill the right
to a political life, we instead

wish you
a Happy New Year

May the Year 1945

shed a new light on your consciences,
may see destroyed the stain of rebellism
from the face of our Homeland,
may make you go back to your families
not anymore shameful of being called rebels!

If it is so - than -
Happy New Year, Partisans!

First, the inescapable forces that swarmed out over the Po Valley in the ten days between 21 April and the first of May quickly eliminated all hope of an effective defense. City after city was outflanked and rendered incapable of being held by any normal military standards. It was a case of get out or get caught, and the Germans chose to get out.
But the history of this war is full of examples of German suicide garrisons, fanatic Nazis who, obeying Hitler's orders to the letter, have battled street by street and house by house within an inexorably contracting ring of steel, with no hope either of victory or of rescue. There were no such episodes in northern Italy.

German leaflet, aimed at Italian partisans, original language
German leaflet, aimed at Italian partisans, original language
Picture. German leaflet, aimed at Italian partisans, original language.
Front and reverse. Anti-communist propaganda. See translation in text.
(coll. Moonen)
Leaflet translation: "La lotta Partigiana ..."

Partisan struggle is a communist question!

Why do the bandits fight? For the "freedom" of Italy?

This freedom is the triumph of bolshevism

Partisan bolshevism, with their political commissars, with the soviet star on the hat and in the button-hole, is founded by bandits.
It is the beginning of the regime of terror. With terrorist methods similar to the Russian ones the inhabitants of the cities and of the countryside are dragged into bolshevism.

The bandits fight for Stalin's "freedom"!

Patriots? Rebels? Partisans?

No! Forerunners of bloodthirsty communism!

Moscow gives orders to the bandits' units!
Moscow stirs up strikes, revolts and civil war!
Moscow instructs and sends political commissars!
Moscow pays the indemnities to the relatives of executed bandits!
Moscow makes up also the "National Liberation Committee".

The so much desired "liberation" of Italy would create the bolshevist hell!


1) - "Garibaldi assault brigades, the GAP and the volunteers units are not other than Stalin's "assault brigands".
2) - ANTIRELIGIOUS PROPAGANDA - with the antireligious association (?) that had its start with the bill-sticking of posters on the walls of the churches of Mondovl during the night between Apr. the 22nd and 23rd read: Kill the priests: destroy the Churches!" is lead by Moscow.
3) - The murders committed in the Valleys of Lanzo, the tortures, the mutilations, the fire torment inflicted to the inhabitants of other places, the horrendous misdeed committed in Mezzana where innocents were thrown into a heater in order to obtain soap), are merely bolshevist systems.
4) The inhuman treatment accorded to prisoners, the torture in order to extort confessions, kidnappings and the horrible killings of children in numerous localities are not other than the systems used by GPU and NKWD in Soviet Union.

That's why the bandits cannot be the freedom bearers!

The National Liberation Committee acts in agreement with Marshal Tito, the communist chief in the Balkans, and with Moscow. Radio "Milano Freedom (or Liberty) transmits on the wave length of Moscow; both are bandits' allies.

A Bolshevistic Italy

Equals to hunger, unemployment, abolition of the small property, robbery, pillage, death!
Bolshevism in Italy means the end of the Christian Faith and of the Family. Sons are taken away from parents and instructed to a brutal, antireligious life and they become rapidly semi-savages that with sufferings of all kind bring them to starvation. Separation from the family will be the beginning of an outlaw life for those wretches.
Add to this the deportation of all men capable of working.
And in the country will rein hunger and terror!
Italian People! Assist Italian and German units in the struggle against the bandits, destructors of our millenary civilization!

Where there is no civilization there cannot be freedom.

For this phenomenon much credit is due the Partisans, or + Patriots, ; as many of them preferred to be called. It was they in large measure who made the cities so hot for the Germans that even a suicide defense was out of the question. In many large centers of population the enemy had lost effective control even before the arrival of our troops. All across northern Italy the Partisans were numerous, well organized, and surprisingly well disciplined. Their coordinating organization was the Committee of National Liberation, which in turn represented a militant coalition of all the principal political parties, from Communists to the conservative Christian Democrats. All were united in the same cause  the defeat of the invader, the liberation of Italy, and the elimination of autocratic government.

As the Allies moved up the Peninsula their numbers grew and their activities increased. Like any guerrilla movement, their ranks included many youths in search of adventure, some rascals seeking, in a simulated patriotism, +the last refuge of the scoundrel and the knave; . And toward the end the + time servers ; began to don red scarves and parade with the real patriots, hoping thus to become firmly established in the ranks of the majority.

But always there was a solid core of patriotic, intelligent leadership, striving by every means at its disposal to aid the march of the liberators. Allied liaison officers parachuted down to join them. Food, clothing, arms and ammunition were smuggled to them in their mountain hideouts, or dropped from planes, to supplement what they could steal or capture from the enemy. Radio broadcasting stations in the liberated portion of the country sent them instructions in code, always preceded by the same little bar of music and the salutation + Allo, Romo! ;.

Organized into brigades of varying sizes, the north Italian Partisans proved to be valuable Allies. They continually harassed the enemy, cutting his supply lines, raiding his towns, stealing his equipment, making life hazardous for individuals or small parties foolhardy enough to venture far from base. In some cities enemy troops dared not wander into certain neighborhoods.

When the entire staff of a certain German division was to assemble at its headquarters for a meeting, the Partisans learned the hour and informed Fifth Army agents. An attack was arranged, the Air Corps to bomb and strafe the house after all the Krauts had had time to arrive, and the Partisans, lying in wait in the adjacent hills, to swoop down afterward and kill or capture as many they could.

When the 442d Infantry entered Carrara they found it controlled by Partisans. The Germans had become so intimidated that they dared not walk the streets after dark. Hidden away in the marble caves near the city were several hundred of the enemy, taken prisoner by the Partisans, and it was observed that while the Germans were barefoot and often naked to the waist, their captors were well clothed and shod with German or Italian military clothing.

German leaflet, aimed at Italian civilians, original language German leaflet, aimed at Italian civilians, original language
Picture. German leaflet, aimed at Italian civilians, original language. Front and reverse. See translation in text.
(coll. Moonen)
Just before the fall of Bologna the signal was passed from Army Headquarters for the Partisans in that area to move in on the city. When our troops entered, they found the Italian irregulars policing the streets and rounding up known Fascisti who were trying to masquerade as citizens.

Leaflet translation: "Prodezze anglo-americane"

Anglo-American Brave Deeds
... train strafing

Anglo-American Brave Deeds
... men hunt

Many of the Partisans wore scarlet neck-cloths, and many gave the clenched-fist salute of the Communists, while others were from wealthy families and of ultra-conservative training. All had a single purpose. Milan, cradle of Italian Fascism, financial angel of II Duce in his early days, provided the classic example of united Partisan action. Here a general strike had been in progress for nearly two weeks when the Americans arrived; the Partisans were in control; Mussolini and his immediate followers had already been hanged.

From Partisan headquarters at Milan had emanated the orders to find and capture Mussolini. From Milan came the order to try and execute him and his cabinet.

When the first Americans entered Milan they found the Partisan headquarters in a prominent building, boldly labelled and with the Italian colors draped across the street. Street cars were running, electric lights were burning, and the water supply was intact. The customary sabotage by the enemy when he was driven out of a city was nowhere to be seen. He was a prisoner in his own fortress.

So it went all over northern Italy. The Partisans, carefully timing their activities with those of the advancing military forces, harassed the German garrisons and rendered them ineffective within the cities, while the Fifth Army killed or captured them as they retreated into the open. Genoa, an exception, surrendered garrison and all to an American regiment, to avoid violence at the hands of the Italian irregulars. After the surrender our informal allies, hitherto very shy of the camera, came out in the open and had their fill of parades, turning in their weapons at elaborate ceremonies in all the principal cities. In the meantime they had been of great value to the Allies. Because of their relatively loose organization and the fact that they were not directly under our control it was not always possible to predict with any degree of accuracy what they might do, but for the most part they displayed a sound judgment and a cooperative attitude which unquestionably helped to shorten the war in Italy.

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