The news of the terrible massacres in Monte Sole was communicated to Mussolini by Dino Fantozzi, the fascist chief of Bologna province on the 10th of October 1944. On the basis of information received from the German Generalkonsul, Baron Gustav-Adolf von Halen.
In that area some repressive actions were taken against rebel elements of the Red Brigade, commanded by Lupo. In this actions about 700 bandits were killed, including the commander of the brigade. The General Consul himself does not exclude that during these actions some inhabitants might have been killed, including some women. This is because many of the houses spread across the area have been transformed into fortresses by the bandits. On the other hand reprisals against the civilian population were not taken. [On this basis] the statements made to me by the Secretary of the Townhall of Marzabotto [Agostino Grava] should be considered as exagerated.
Source: Confidential letter from Dino Fantozzi to Benito Mussolini, dated 10th October 1944. National State Archive, Rome (ACS, SPD CR; RSI)
An historian’s account:
The tendency of the chief of the province of Bologna. Fantozzi, to believe the German representative [von Halem] rather than the direct eyewitness account of an official of the Italian Social Republic (RSI), Agostino Grava, is a symptom of the psychological dependence on the occupying force...... The terrifiyng news provided by Grava when he reached Salò, was then confirmed by an inspection of the sites where the massacre occurred by the police commissioner of Bologna.When Mussolini understood the magnitude of the indiscriminate killings, he phoned Hitler to express his disappointment, saying that the massacres at Marzabotto prevented him from denouncing the “Katyn graves”. He received no response to his protest.
Source: Mimmo Franzinelli, The hidden massacres, 2002, Milano, Mondadori