The Gothic Line
This name, Gothic Line, recalls a crucial moment in the history of Italy and Europe, a dramatic time in which a horrific number of human lives were sacrificed to bring closer the end of World War Two and liberate Italian territory from the Nazi troops.
The Gothic Line was a line of defence built by the German troops in 1944 to prevent the Allies from reaching the Plain of Lombardy: breaching it would have meant that the Alps and Germany would have been within reach. Known also as the Green Line, it stretched from Massa-Carrara to Rimini (or to Pesaro, according to some studies), cutting the country in two. The line was 320 kilometres long, and up to 30 kilometreswide in some places. It was equipped with various defence systems, including minefields, barbed wire entanglements, anti-tank ditches, trenches, dugouts, and bunkersfor artillery and machine-guns. The Gothic Line was attacked by the Allies in September 1944, and although they managed to break through the first line of defences in several places, they were unable to complete the attack. Their greatlosses, together with difficulties in obtaining the reinforcements and supplies necessary to continue the attack and the arrival of harsh weather, forced the Allies to wait out the winter.
When the Anglo-American offensive began again, the Gothic Line finally collapsed, but by now it had already fulfilled its purpose of holding up the Allied Forces’ advance as long as possible. It has been calculated that Germany lost about 75,000 men – dead, wounded, or missing – along the Gothic Line, and the alliesabout 65,000. One of the most dramatic events in the offensive took place in the Rimini area. The historian Amedeo Montemaggi asserts,
The Battle of Rimini employed the largest number of armed forces of any battle ever fought on Italian soil, andwas one of the most crucial, and overlooked, battles of World War Two, fought by1,200,000 soldiers and thousands of aeroplanes, cannons, and tanks.
All the territory of the hills close to Rimini was involved in the fighting. Montegridolfo Museum recalls this event in an exhibition of wartime materials and numerous newspapers and written documents enabling the visitor to gain an understanding not only of the military vicissitudes but also of the political propaganda of the times. The exhibits include the personal equipment of some of the soldiers whotook part. Filmed material from World War Two concerning places in the neighbourhood canalso be seen.