The Battle of Montecassino

Storia-battaglia montecassino

 

The Battle of Montecassino was one of the most important military operations of WWII. Also known as the Battle for Rome, it wasn't just one battle but rather a series of military assaults by the Allies against the Germans, starting on January 17th and ending in late May of 1944. Montecassino played center stage in this battle because Allied intelligence suspected German artillery units were utilizing the abbey as an extremely useful observation post, as well as being strategically located for a much-needed breakthrough on German defenses in order to infiltrate a heavily occupied Rome. The loss of life was massive in this controversial operation, with the Allies losing 55,000 soldiers and an estimated 20,000 killed and wounded German soldiers.

Prior to the start of the Battle, German officer Captain Maximilian Becker and Austrian officer Lieutenant Colonel Julius Schlegel had arranged for the majority of the abbey's artifacts, library archives and documents, and numerous other priceless treasures to be moved for safe-keeping at the Vatican City in Rome. This massive task took months to finish, along with hundreds of men and monks to accompany everything.

After the war ended, the abbot Ildefonso Rea headed the project to rebuild Montecassino precisely where it stood before, in all its former glory as well as repatriate all the valuables and documents that had been held at the Vatican during the war. The resurrected abbey was reconsecrated in 1964 by Pope Paul VI.