Prayers and Piazzas

By late July of 1944, Allied forces were very close to liberating Florence from the Nazis, who had occupied the city for the past year.

“The Allied forces are advancing on Florence,” warned thousands of leaflets dropped by American planes. “The city’s liberation is at hand. Citizens of Florence, you must unite to preserve your city and to defeat our common enemies… Prevent the enemy from detonating mines which they may have placed under bridges…” ¹

But different directives were coming from the German high command to the citizens of Florence. On July 29, 1944, residents along the Arno — around 150,000 people — were warned to leave their homes by noon the next day. Ultimately, the whole area was blocked off, with German paratroops standing guard at various posts.

On August 3, another warning was issued from the German high command: Beginning from this moment, it is prohibited for…

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