Rome, the ‘Eternal City’, had a peculiar war. With Italy an axis nation it was a target for allied bombers but in the centre is the Vatican, home of the Pope. A neutral state within the capital of a belligerent nation. In deference to the Pope allied bombing operations were curtailed, perhaps more than they might otherwise have have been.
When the Italians secretly brokered an armistice with the allies in September 1943, Rome was occupied by the Germans. With the Germans in charge, Italian men would be deported as forced labour and the Jewish population of Rome rounded up to be sent to concentration camps.
At the same time the Vatican became a magnet for escaped Prisoners of War who would seek refuge inside the walls of the holy city.
I’m joined by Victor Failmezger.
Victor is a retired US Naval Officer who served in Rome as the Assistance Naval Attaché. He is also the author of Rome City in Terror: The Nazi Occupation 1943-44.