Why was it an issue?

The views of enlisted soldiers

Private Theobald Kurz, when interrogated in the context of the La Spezia trial, referred to meetings of veterans of the 16th  SS Panzergrenadier Division of the Waffen SS after the war. During these meetings the veterans talked about what they regarded as “the facts of Marzabotto”. Later they published a booklet: Im gleichen Schritt und Tritt. Dokumentation der 16.SS Panzergrenadier Division “Reichsführer -SS”, Munich, Schild, 1998.

We had to defend ourselves. By “we” I mean my unit. It was like this: 12 year-old children were armed and they shot at German soldiers. Thus they were partisans. We defended ourselves and of course during the combat we killed partisans too (..) In Marzabotto it was just military actions in the context of a war.

This is an extract from the testimony of Corporal Wilhelm Kusterer. He served in the 16th SS Panzergrenadier Division and, in particular, he was a member of the reconnaissance unit responsible for the operation in Monte Sole. He seems to make no distinction between ‘civilian’ and ‘partisan’.

We were ordered to carry out an operation against the civilian population. By this I mean against the partisans. Their brigade was called Stella Rossa. I can confirm that it was an anti-partisan action against the Stella Rossa group.