Rome – City in Terror

Rome – City in Terror

The Nazi Occupation 1943–44

General Military
  • Author: Victor Failmezger
  • Short code: GNM
  • Publication Date: 17 Sep 2020
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About this Product

This is the compelling story of an Eternal City brought low, of the terror and hardship of occupation, and of the disparate army of partisan fighters, displaced aristocrats, Vatican priests, Allied POWs and ordinary citizens who battled for the liberation of Rome. In September 1943, following wave upon wave of Allied bombing, Italy announced an armistice with the Allies. Shortly afterwards, the German army disarmed Italian forces and, despite military and partisan resistance, quickly overran Rome. Rome - City in Terror is a comprehensive history of the nine-month-long German occupation of the city that followed.

The Gestapo wasted no time enforcing an iron grip on the city once the occupation was in place. They swiftly eliminated the Carabinieri, the Italian paramilitary force, rounded up thousands of Italians to build extensive defensive lines across Italy, and, at 5am one morning, arrested more than 1,000 Roman Jews and sent them to Auschwitz. Resistance, however, remained strong. To aid the thousands of Allied POWs who escaped after the dissolution of the Italian army, priests, diplomats and escaped ex-POWs operating out of the Vatican formed a nationwide organization called the ‘Escape Line'. More than 4,000 Allied POWs scattered all over Italy were sheltered, clothed and fed by these courageous Italians, whose lives were forfeit if their activities were discovered. Meanwhile, as food became scarce and the Gestapo began to raid on homes and institutions, Italian partisan fighters launched attack after attack on German military units in the city, with the threat of execution never far away.

Biographical Note

Victor "Tory" Failmezger is a retired US Naval Officer. In the early 1970s, he was stationed at NATO in Naples, Italy and in the early 1980s he served as the Assistant Naval Attaché in Rome, Italy, where he participated in the celebration marking the 40th anniversary of the liberation of Rome. A later tour found him as the Director of the US Navy Science and Technology Group, Europe in Munich, Germany. He is a graduate of the US Foreign Service Institute (Italian) and the Defence Language Institute (German). After retirement he worked as a consultant in the private sector and for the US Department of Energy and NASA. His recent works include the popular American Knights (2015).


List of Maps
Author's Introduction
Dramatis Personae

1: Bombing the Cradle of Christianity
2: The Frantic Effort to Leave the Axis
3: The Former Allies Square Off
4: War in a Museum - The Battle for Rome
5: The Gestapo in Rome - Kappler, Espionage, and Sabotage
6: First They Take the Jews
7: The Vatican Nest of Spies
8: Unexpected, but Welcome Help
9: Allied POWs Seek Freedom
10: Knocking on the Gates of Saint Peter's
11: Official Military Resistance
12: Ciao Bella, Ciao - The Partigiani
13: The Rome Escape Line
14: Life under the Gestapo Boot - Raids, Roundups, Food, and Art
15: An American Boy Scout OSS Spy in Rome
16: A Stranded Whale
17: No Roman Holiday
18: The Order Has Been Carried Out
19: The Roman Spring of 1944
20: Prelude to Liberation
21: At Long Last, Liberation
Bibliography and Resources

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