After news of the massacres along the Gothic Line began to emerge Field Marshal Alexander, in command of Allied Forces in Italy, issued this warning to all German officers and men still fighting in North Italy. It was translated into German and many leaflets were dropped by aircraft to warn the occupying forces of the risks of violating humanitarian laws.
To German soldiers and officers
By General Sir H.R. Alexander
Commander-in-chief of the Allied forces in Italy
1. Reports about atrocities – killings, mass reprisals against innocent civilians, torture and other acts – committed by German troops in Northern Italy are coming to our attention each day with increasing frequency. 2. I draw the following to the attention of German officers and soldiers in Northern Italy, who may give or implement orders to commit such atrocities: 3. The fact that, for example, in a certain village, Italian patriots, wearing or not wearing uniforms, bracelets,or other recognizable badges, have attacked German soldiers, is not, according to any military or moral code, a justification for collective reprisals against the population of that village, nor for the killing of people without proper judgment and proper evidence. 4. Officers or soldiers that have given or implemented orders for such acts, are war criminals. (…) 6. I have given orders to all the Italian patriots and civilians in the occupied territory to take detailed written notes of the names, divisions and other identifying details of the officers and soldiers that gave or implemented orders for such crimes. (…)
Source: H.P. Alexander, Warning to German officers and men, 19th October 1944, quoted in Mimmo Franzinelli, The hidden massacres, Mondadori, 2002, Milan.
Field Marshal Harold Alexander in 1945