In this room there is a large optical theatre that summarises the military situation, the objectives and the strategies of the battle lines in the area on the eve of the attack on Cassino. The setting is nocturnal and dominated by the Abbey of Montecassino. Two colonels, a German and an American, explain their military decisions. Their words are accompanied by the sound of brass instruments, creating a strong military atmosphere, as well as Britten’s War Requiem movement. At the front, a relief of a map of Italy shows the three German lines of defence.

From 10 September, the date of the first bombardment of Cassino, there was no respite in the war anywhere in the country. The Allied forces, who had landed in Sicily on 9 July 1943, began to advance up the peninsula, bombing the German-occupied territory incessantly. The target was Rome. After Salerno and Naples, the Allied advance was fiercely opposed by the German army, which was busy reinforcing its defensive lines: the Reinhard line, from the Sangro river to Garigliano; the Gustav line, based on the Garigliano river and Monte Cassino; and finally the Hitler line, which connected Pontecorvo, Aquino and Piedimonte San Germano. There was only one way to reach the capital: via Casilina, overlooked by the ancient abbey.

Skip to content