The Context

Monte Sole and the Gothic Line: civilians, partisan and Nazi army



In August 1944 Allied forces were fighting against German divisions on the Gothic Line. The Monte Sole area had been designated as the area where a German defensive rearguard would be mounted. In this area a partisan brigade called “Stella Rossa” (Red Star) was also operating.


It had been founded in October 1943 by people with highly diverse political and cultural backgrounds: catholics, socialists, communists and liberals. Most of them were inhabitants of the area. The chief of the brigade was Mario Musolesi AKA "Lupo".But in the summer of 1944 as split emerged within Stella Rossa, its membership dramatically declined., which impacted on its resistance operations .


The 16th SS Panzergrenadier “Reichsführer” Division of Waffen-SS led by Lieutenant General Max Simon was ordered to carry out a counter-insurgency operation in the region to destroy partisan groups. The partisan activities in the area were regarded as dangerous by the Nazi army because of their location and supply, communication and retreat lines.


The operation was carried out by the reconnaissance battalion (Aufklaerungs abteilung) of the division under the command of SS-Sturmbannführer  (Major) Walter Reder.