Abbey of Monte Cassino, Italy, in ruins after Allied bombings in February 1944, vs 2007.
Allied forces wiped the monastery from the face of the Earth believing it was a vantage point for German forces. They were not sure it was, but decided to bomb it anyway in case the Germans wanted to use it in the future (according to Major General Kippenberger’s communications).
Future investigations concluded without any doubt that German forces were not in the monastery. 230 Italian civilians were killed in the bombings.
Pope Pius XII kept silent and did not react to the bombing, but Cardinal Secretary of State Luigi Maglioni called it “a piece of gross stupidity and a colossal blunder”.
The battle of Monte Cassino was a lengthy assault by the Allies against the defensive line held by German forces in the South East of Italy. The battle lasted 5 months, from January until May 1944.
Although at this point in time the Allied troops were gaining good ground and clearly had the upper hand, Germany offered surprising resistance in the Monte Cassino battle. The Allies expected an easier victory on their road to Rome, but their win came at a great cost and took much longer than anticipated.
Incredibly, the Monte Cassino monastery was rebuilt after the War and still stands today.
Book suggestion ⤵️
📖 Monte Cassino: The Hardest Fought Battle of World War II (Matthew Parker, 2003)