What were the experiences of those involved?

29 September 1944 through multiple perspectives 2

There were 53 victims in San Giovanni: women, children, the elderly. Sandri and Fiori lost all their families, including very young children. The responsible troops for this massacre were the 5th company (commanded by Max Saalfrank)  of the  Aufklaerung Abteilung (Reconnaissance Unit) which was commanded by Major Walter Reder of the 16th Panzergrenadier Division. Four companies of the Aufklaerung Abteilung  were responsible for all the massacres that took place in the Setta valley area of Monte Sole.

 

In San Giovanni di Sotto at 7.00 in the morning, Mario Fiori saw houses burning in the area. He and his brother-in-law, Gaetano Sandri, ran into the woods and hid in a ditch covered in greenery while the soldiers shot in their direction…..  All the men of San Giovanni di Sopra ran away while the women and children remained at home. “We left them at home “, Gaetano Sandri declared , “we were convinced that they had nothing to fear”. Gerardo Fiori, brother of Mario, living in San Giovanni di Sopra, saw “a group of about 30 German soldiers coming towards my home”. He ran into the woods as well and hid in a ditch (..). Soon afterwards the same soldiers reached San Giovanni di Sotto. Malvina Stefanelli saw them arriving while she was in the courtyard: “ When they were close to me I realized that one  of them was signalling to me to go away. I went away and went to the closest woods”. Her daughter, after seeing the houses all around burning had already run away with other people and was hiding in a shelter between the two San Giovannis.

 

What happened in San Giovanni di Sotto.  Eye witness accounts.

Source: Luca Baldissara, Paolo Pezzino, Il massacro. Guerra ai civili a Monte Sole, Bologna, 2009