Serafino Beconi
Sant’Anna; the Massacre



The massacre of Sant'Anna

They arrived at dawn on four sides and spread death.
Women, men, the old, the very young were caught
In the hail of machine-gun fire, in the blaze of flame-throwers,
In the funeral pyres of their houses.
By four in the afternoon, it was all over.
They drank and then went shouting on their noisy way.

Serafino Beconi

On 12 August 1944, four SS companies of the Second Battalion led by Major Walter Reder arrived in Sant’Anna di Stazzema, a village in the Apuan hills. The men in the village fled, supposing that this was just another general arrest. The old men, women and children stayed.
After shooting people in their houses, the Nazis rounded up various groups of people, dragging them out of their houses, in order to kill them. In the end, 560 people died. The atrocity reached its climax with a “human bonfire” in front of the village church.
The Germans then threw grenades into the houses and set fire to them. Amongst those taking part in the massacre were Italian collaborators who had led the SS up the impassable mule tracks.
In memory of those who died in the slaughter, a monument in the form of an ossuary was erected on a hill within walking distance of the Church of Sant’Anna, visible from all over the coastline, a solemn warning and symbol of peace.
Almost sixty years later the trial opened, after the discovery of files hidden in the “cupboard of shame” in the Military Prosecutor’s Office in Rome.