Pope to Visit Monument for Italians Slain by Nazis

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 23, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI will mark the 67th anniversary of the 1944 Nazi massacre of 335 Italians with a private visit to the commemorative monument.

The Prefecture of the Pontifical Household today announced the Pope’s visit to the Fosse Ardeatine on the outskirts of Rome, which will take place March 27. The anniversary is March 24.

The Ardeatine massacre was a reprisal for a March 23, 1944, attack on occupying German forces. Partisans of the Patriotic Action Group ignited a bomb as a column of German policemen marched through central Rome on Via Rasella. Thirty-three Germans died and Adolf Hitler approved a proposal that 10 Italians should be killed for each German casualty.

The final toll of 335 Italians was due to a miscount in the hasty roundup, which included civilians, military prisoners of war and prisoners from Rome’s jails, as well as 75 Jews.

Hitler ordered that the reprisal be carried out in 24 hours.

Benedict XVI is the third Pope to visit the Fosse Ardeatine. Pope Paul VI went on Sept. 12, 1965, and Pope John Paul II on March 21, 1982.

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