Twenty years of fascist dictatorship, three years of war, and a year spent under Nazi violence came to an end on 5 September 1944, the day of the Liberation of Lucca.
The African-American soldiers of the Fifth Army, 92nd Infantry Division, known as the Buffalo Soldiers, entered through Porta San Pietro and reached Piazza Napoleone. Here they met the citizens of Lucca in celebration and the partisans who had already entered the city the previous evening, when, with the Allies only a few kilometres away, the Germans had abandoned the city.
Lucca thus avoided the shelling and bombardments that would have been fatal to it, with no clashes between the armies in the streets, no reprisals in the city. Unfortunately, in leaving the city, the Nazis implemented their usual strategy of “aggressive retreat”. Dozens of Wehrmacht snipers, hidden in bell towers outside the city walls, such as that of the Church of San Marco, in houses in the districts of Sant’Anna and San Concordio and in the turret of the Porta Elisa football stadium, mercilessly shot citizens celebrating the liberation or guarding the city gates.
Although the city’s architecture was not affected, the days of Lucca’s liberation displayed the devastating consequences of the passage of the war front. Many civilians were killed on the day of the liberation and in the weeks following, many more died in the hills and countryside of Lucca.
On the morning of 5 September, the arrival of the American soldiers in Lucca marked the end of the Nazi-Fascist occupation, of months of round-ups, fear, torture and killings in the prison of the former Convent of the Pia Casa, in the rooms of the cloister of Sant’Agostino and throughout the
medieval squares and streets of the city.
We have designed a new itinerary dedicated to the events and places of World War II in Lucca