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)
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 homes. 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.) 100
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