04.06.

1944: The Americans Secure Rome from the Germans

1944: The Americans Secure Rome from the Germans
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 04 June 1944
  • On this day American troops commanded by General Mark Wayne Clark entered Rome. From the strategic point of view, Clark's entry into Rome was considered to be unnecessary and only gave time for the German 10th Army to get away and avoid destruction.

On this day in 1944, in the midst of World War II, American troops entered Rome and in doing so ended the German occupation of the city.

To recall, after Italy withdrew from World War II in 1943, the Germans occupied it and took direct control of Rome. Then, the Allies landed in the south of Italy and began to advance towards the north, little by little, depriving the Germans of occupied territory.

This process went slowly, because the Germans had made a number of defense lines on the road to Rome (lines Gustav, Bernhardt, Barbara, Volturno, Hitler, Caesar …). Particularly long and bloody fighting took place at the famous Abbey of Monte Cassino, about 130 kilometers from Rome.

The fierce bombing of the Abbey of Monte Cassino by the Allies, who assumed that the Germans were hiding within, was a controversial move.

This assumption proved wrong, because the German forces were actually not in the monastery, but in its vicinity. The Allies demolished the monastery to the ground, and it was only then that the Germans took positions within its ruins and resisted for a long time.

All in all, the Allies took almost a year to reach Rome. On this day American troops, commanded by General Mark Wayne Clark, finally entered Rome.

It was, of course, an important triumph, because Rome was the first capital of the former Axis powers that fell into Allied hands. General Mark Wayne Clark was the same one who ordered the bombing of the Abbey of Monte Cassino, but only after he received the order from above.

In fact, he himself considered it unlikely that the Germans were in the monastery and said he will bomb it only if he received a direct order from a superior commander – General Harold Alexander (later Field Marshal Lord Alexander of Tunis). Indeed, he received the order and bombed the monastery.

In Rome, Pope Venerable Pius XII reportedly thanked General Clark for liberating the city. However, from the strategic point of view, Clark’s entry into Rome was considered to be unnecessary and only gave time for the German 10th Army to get away and avoid destruction.

Apparently, Clark, instead of wasting time in Rome, should have hit the Germans as they were retreating, thereby shortening the war.

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