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Berlin, Richard E., 1894- / Diary of a flight to occupied Germany, July 20 to August 27, 1945.

Naples...Caserta...Rome,   pp. 99-100 PDF (503.8 KB)

Page 100

quisite but war-torn Italian country. Motoring up the Liri Valley,
we stopped at Cassino-the worst demolished place yet seen. Here
stood the famous Cassino monastery. The town commands a
strategic position at the head of the valley, and one can see why
the site was stubbornly fought over for many months.
General Keyes, in Austria, had told us that during the battle of
Italy, when they were fighting for Cassino, someone brought in
the battle maps and plans of Hannibal's army. In that ancient
campaign, the General said, Hannibal was confronted with the
same strategic problems our forces were up against.
The famous monastery at Cassino is on a mountain approxi-
mately 400 ft. above the city. The town and monastery are located
on a bend of the Liri valley-a strategic military spot.
The northward-advancing American Army coming through the
valley to the south from Cassino, with mountains on either side,
had to pass Cassino to proceed through a widening plain to the ap-
proaches of Rome; hence the reason for this place being stubborn-
ly held by the Germans.
Our conducting officer informs us that the entire population of
Cassino had moved a few miles to the northwest-where presently
a new city will be built. Knowing the habits of people, however,
we feel sure the people of Cassino in the future will dig themselves
out of the rubble and go back and rebuild their town and original
We talked to persons who were setting up their little businesses
in the sea of rubble. They said, "Bye-and-bye, we rebuild."
After leaving Cassino we proceeded northward on the Appian
Way to Rome. There was not much damage to the country but
every village seemed to have been stubbornly fought for-most of
them were in ruins even to the outskirts of Rome.
Arrived in glorious Rome at 7 p.m. and went at once to the
famous old Grand Hotel, now conducted as an Army hotel, billet-
ing ranking officers and V.I.P.s. (Dinner, in Army mess, 25c;
good Italian wine, 35c per bottle.)

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