Milan celebrates 72nd anniversary of the liberation

Freedom from Nazi occupation.

This week Italy celebrates the end of world war two and the Nazi occupation, and Milan – decorated with the gold medal for military valour – has a programme of events to mark the occasion.

The central focus of the commemoration will be the traditional procession starting at 14.00 in Corso Venezia, winding through the city to end in Piazza del Duomo. Here, starting at 15.30, speakers from the city administration, the national associations of former partisans and of political prisoners held in Nazi death camps, labour union leaders and a representative of the immigrant community will join senate speaker Pietro Grasso in remembering the end of world war two.

To close the ceremony, the partisans’ association choir will sing the partisan anthem Bella Ciao.

Among other initiatives in Milan, a ceremony at 11.00 in the Trenno park in Via Cascina Bellaria, near the S. Siro football grounds will honour Commonwealth war dead. Here in the War Cemetery, Milan authorities will lay a wreath to the notes of the Last Post, and remember the 421 young Allied soldiers who lost their lives in combat.

As Milan, already freed by Italian partisans, fell to the Allies largely without a fight, the Commonwealth forces suffered few casualties here. Most of the graves are those of prisoners-of-war or airmen, some 27 of them unidentified, brought in from the surrounding towns and villages after the war.

Across the city, in the Casa della Memoria in Via Federico Confalonieri 14, a series of documentary films on the role of women in the resistance movement will be screened from 09.00. Between each film, the National Partisans Association will present selected material from its archive of audiovisual testimony.

Other wreaths will be laid in Piazza Tricolore at 09.00, Palazzo Isimbardi (09.15), City Hall (09.30), Piazza Sant’Ambrogio and Milan’s central cemetery (10.00), Campo Giuriati (10.15), Piazzale Loreto (10.30) and at the Centro Puecher in Via Dini (12.20).

On 25 April 1945, a radio announcement by the Milan-based National Liberation Committee for Northern Italy proclaimed a state of insurgency, ordering partisans to attack and defeat any Fascist or German outposts still operating in the occupied territory.

Although much of Italy had already been freed, some by partisans and some by the Allied expeditionary force advancing from the south, this date was chosen to commemorate the placement of the final piece in the jigsaw of liberated Italy.

With their slogan “Surrender or die!” the partisans and their Allied supporters completed the liberation by 3 May, putting an end to two decades of Fascist rule and opening the way for a democratic government, leading to the 1946 referendum which ousted the monarchy and founded the present-day Republic of Italy.