Italian town slammed over memorial that includes Nazi soldiers | News | DW | 18.03.2018
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Italian town slammed over memorial that includes Nazi soldiers

A wartime association has decried a memorial for commemorating Italy's liberation fighters alongside Nazi paratroopers. More than 50,000 Allied soldiers are believed to have died in the Battle of Cassino.

City administrators on Sunday suspended a ceremony to unveil a memorial to soldiers killed during the Battle of Monte Cassino due to public outrage.

The memorial was to have the following words engraved in Italian, English and German: "In memory and recognition of the soldiers of all nations who fell in the bloody Battle of Cassino and all the civilian victims of the terrible war."

Historians estimate that 20,000 German soldiers were killed in the battle, while Allied powers lost more than 50,000 lives.

Read more: German-speaking Italy and the legacy of fascism

Days before the unveiling set for Sunday, the National Association of Italian Partisans (ANPI), an association founded in 1944 by members of the Italian resistance, called it disgraceful that the town of Monte Cassino would erect such a memorial.

"In all likelihood, [the memorial] equates the fighters for the liberation of Italy from occupation and slavery to Hitler's totalitarian atrocities with those who committed those atrocities to the detriment of Italians," said ANPI in a statement published on Facebook.

Screenshot of wartime association

A mock-up of the memorial is shown in a screenshot from the Facebook page of the Battle of Cassino Association

'No intention of honoring murderers'

However, the Battle of Cassino Association's research center said critics had spread "disinformation" about the memorial, which was to be erected on a tourist trail that tells the story of the battle.

"This initiative has no intention of honoring murderers," the research center said. "I think that historical memory transmits, communicates and solicits dialogue, and memory is the basis for a reconciliation of the peoples who suffered and those that caused immense tragedy."

Read more: How a normal World War II soldier became a war criminal

Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini led Italy into World War II as an ally of Nazi Germany in 1940. He was later deposed during the allied invasion of Italy in 1943 and executed in 1945.

German General Hans-Werner Fritz, who heads the German confederation of paratroopers, had been expected to attend the ceremony before it was cancelled.

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