What were the consequences?

The British investigation of the massacre

In August 1944 the British army created a Special Investigative Branch (SIB), whose task was to investigate war crimes. This was described as “an enormous job” by the officer in charge.

 

The first news of what happened in Monte Sole reached them on 20th December 1944 but the investigation of the allegations only began after April 1945, when the war in Italy ended. The individual responsible for conducting the investigation was Sergeant Major Edmonson. He was unaware of the US investigations that had been carried out previously.

 

 

The British investigation was conducted in three phases.

 

A report dated May 1945,noted that it was impossible to obtain a whole picture of what had happened in the area (which by then was deserted and mined). Edmonson closed his investigations on 2nd July 1945 on the grounds that there were “no sufficient reasons to carry on the investigation [any further]”.

 

A second investigation by the SIB was carried out between September  and October 1945 and was based on the interrogation of Julien Legoll, a deserter from the German army.  The interrogation had been carried out by an Intelligence Officer (dated 1 November 1944) whose report was then passed on to SIB by the British War Office. After collecting many testimonies from survivors, Sgt Major  Edmonson concluded that it was still not possible to build a whole picture of what had happened or to identify the personal responsibilities of individual soldiers. This investigation was closed on 30th October 1945.

 

A third British investigation began in March 1947. This was not conducted by the SIB. The officer in charge was Lieutenant Jones who collected testimonies from a lot of witnesses (survivors, partisans and German officers) in March 1947. This investigation was linked to the trial of General Max Simon, Commander in Chief of the 16th SS Panzergrenadier Division that was about to start at the end of May 1947.

 

In his final report (Spring 1947) Jones recorded that “the massacres that took place in this district were more widespread than had appeared from the original statements. They were not confined to San Martino”. So he proposed renaming the file “Massacres in the municipalities of Marzabotto and Monzuno”. In spring 1947, Lt. Jones finally got access to the findings and the collected documentation of the US War Crimes Commission. 

 

Source: From Pezzino and Baldissara, Il massacro. Guerra ai civili a Monte Sole, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2009, p. 361-388.