“See Naples and die.” (Vedi Napoli e poi muori) – Italian proverb (variously ascribed to Virgil, Goethe and Humboldt)
Roger’s grandson, the Holy Roman Emperor Federico II (Frederick II) of Hohenstaufen, made Naples his intellectual center, founding a university there in 1224. At the time of his death he ruled over a sprawling empire that stretched from the island of Sicily in the south to Germany in the north and Jerusalem in the east.
"Mussolini expressed himself in harsh terms against the Genoese people, who are 'certainly the most hostile to the war and who have given proof of moral weakness.' On the other hand, he praised the Neapolitans, who have been made fatalistic by centuries of difficulties and misery to the point of composing ironical songs on the English during bombing from the air." – Count Galeazzo Ciano: The Ciano Diaries, 1939-1943, Edited by Hugh Gibson, pg. 536, Simon Publications, 2001
The two straws that broke the camel’s back came on September 22nd, when Col. Scholl issued a decree demanding that all Neapolitan males 18-33 years of age report for deportation to Germany and Northern Italy for compulsory labor.
The decree was a smokescreen. The Germans had plenty of slave labor for their camps and factories. What they didn’t have was engineers and skilled laborers to aid them in constructing fortifications in preparation for the final Allied assault on “Fortress Europe”. They had planned to sift through the throngs assembled, finding those with the appropriate resumes and sending them where needed. What would happen to the rest was anybody’s guess.
|Scugnizzi (Photo courtesy of EDITempoCreaEroi)|
On October 1st, at 0930 hours, the first Allied tanks rolled into the city to face a beleaguered and war-weary population. Respite would not come soon, however, as German planes continued to bomb the city intermittently until March, 1944. Many Neapolitans also looked upon the Allies apprehensively because reports had earlier filtered into the city of mass rapes of Southern Italian women by some Allied forces.
Memorial to the Giornate di Napoli
Photo courtesy of Around Naples Encyclopedia