Cell No. 11 contain communications and orders issued by the Authorities during the Nazi occupation of Rome (11 September 1943 to 4 June 1944). These documents give us an idea of the climate of intimidation and threats made to remove some of the fundamental freedoms enjoyed by Romans at that time.
The first, in chronological order, is the order of 11 September 1943 signed by general Kesselring, head of the German Armed Forces of the South. It was drafted in Italian and German, and clearly outlined the legal framework of the occupation. The occupied territory was declared to be war territory, actions against the German Armed Forces would be judged by the War Tribunal, strikes were prohibited, with the threat of summary judgement for the organisers, no private correspondence was allowed, and telephones would be tapped.
In the cell, shortly after this first order, there is a communication, again in two languages, which gives us an idea of the extent to which the Nazi occupation of the city had become oppressive and cruel. The document communicates the death sentence - already carried out - of a group of ten men belonging to a “gang of communists, for shooting at German troops on 22 October”. This event was in fact an attempted break-in at the Engineers' barracks in via Tiburtina, which had been abandoned after 8 September, where it was hoped there would still be food and supplies. In the attack a German soldier and a Roman boy died. The ten men shot probably belonged to the “Red Flag” formation that had backed up protesters.
Of great interest are the orders relating to Rome as an "open city”*, one signed by general Sthael and the other by general Calvi di Bergolo*, appointed head of the ”open city" by the Germans, both issued on 14 September 1943, ordering the handing over of all types of weapons. This order was disregarded in the great majority of cases, but would be repeated by the Prefecture of Rome, with the threat of summary judgement and execution for anyone found in possession of arms.
The establishment of the R.S.I. brought new orders to enlist and swear allegiance to the new State, These orders were signed by Graziani, national Defence Secretary, on 8 November and 16 December 1943. In the notice dated 18 February 1944, Mussolini himself announced that any soldiers failing to obey enlistment orders would be treated as deserters, and liable to the penalty of death by firing squad. It also threatened to punish anyone helping defectors.
There were also notices regarding daily life: the curfew time, the offer of money for information, the ban on listening to enemy radio stations; as well as notices seeking volunteers for work to be done. Jobs that gradually became mandatory.
About the RSI
The Italian Social Republic (RSI) was established on 23 September 1943, at the same time as the foundation of the Republican Fascist Party, which replaced the National Fascist Party. Mussolini, freed by German paratroopers from the Gran Sasso prison, took on his previous role as head of government. The headquarters of the new State were located in the north-east of the country, near the Brenner, the gateway to the territories of the Reich. Ministries were distributed in the cities of Veneto and Lombardy, while the town of Salò, on Lake Garda, was chosen as the "capital" of the new State.
The new State's territory covered those areas of the Italian peninsula occupied militarily by the German Army. This new State never reached full autonomy in terms of legislative, economic or territorial control since, even before the formation of the RSI, and at Hitler's orders, the occupied Italian territory was subject to the control of high commissioners, special advisers coordinated by ambassador Rahn as a “plenipotentiary of the Reich”, exercising direct control over the Italian administration. The activity of the RSI consisted of supporting the operations of the German police against the Resistance and attempting (and failing) to enlist men to the army to counter the Allied forces, through numerous communications issued by the War Minister. The RSI remained a satellite state of the Third Reich. The new State was recognised only by Germany and the occupied States.
The RSI action programme was approved at the Verona congress in November 1943, and contained the following points: a return to the socialist and republican origins of fascism, denouncing the betrayal of the monarchy; abandonment of the corporative system and establishment of a National Confederation of labour; the Republic was conceived as a presidential system with elections every five years, with a single fascist party, recognising Benito Mussolini as “duce”.