Campo Roncoli

09/05/1944

Killing of individual

Don Cristoforo Mattesini, who succeeded Don Ezio Turinesi as parish priest of Partina, writes: “A few months later came another tempest. The Casentino had to be cleared of civilians. “Grande fronte (Great font line)” – said the Germans – “civilisti tutti raus (All civilians raus)”. After the liberation of Arezzo, the front moved up into the Casentino and one village after another was evacuated. On August 20th it was Partina’s turn. A band of policemen and gendarmes surrounded the town. They fired into the air so that no one would run away. Other soldiers entered the houses and drove the inhabitants out. They were only allowed to take a little bread and a few blankets for the night. The church was opened once more to these wretches. Don Ezio busied himself again comforting and encouraging them. Herded together like sheep and guarded by police officers, they were then led on foot to the Mausolea, a magnificent farm of the Camaldolese monks which had been transformed for the occasion into a concentration camp. Locked up there, the following night they were deported by military vehicles to Forlì, Galeata, Santa Sofia and so on. Among those who could not be evacuated for lack of transport, the able-bodied tried to escape and find refuge in Poppi or Bibbiena. The old and the sick who could not walk were abandoned to their fate. Don Turinesi asked permission to stay in Partina and house the helpless in his rectory. Others who had escaped deportation joined them, and they say that the parish priest himself carried some of the sick on his back from their homes to the rectory. The front line remained there for about a month, during which Partina became a no-man’s-land. Opposing German and Allied patrols converged there. From time to time the refugees left the rectory for one reason or another, and the parish priest himself would go to the monks of the Mausolea to get something to eat for himself and the others.
One day, during an allied incursion into Partina, a truck overturned and was abandoned with everything inside. Many people ran to pillage it and took everything to the parish priest’s house. As this was happening, the Germans shot and wounded a man, who then went along with others to be treated by Don Turinesi. These comings and goings made the Germans suspect that they were involved in spying. One day they surprised two men wandering around the village and followed them to the rectory. Don Ezio had just the time to hide them in the attic, but the patrol searched his house and, not finding them, arrested the priest. During their search they found cigarettes and food stolen from the Allied truck. They saw this as a confirmation of his relations with the enemy. Don Ezio was only allowed to enter the church to take the sacrament before being escorted by two soldiers out of the village and up the road towards the hamlet of Freggina. At the top of the village they stopped and made a farmer who was hiding there prepare some food for them. The farmer told me: “Don Ezio was carrying a small bag. They had made him bring the bag they had found in his house as a proof of his contacts with the enemy. In fact, the bag belonged to the Allies. While they were eating, the priest asked for a cigarette. “No, spy, you nothing” was the reply. They resumed their climb, left Freggina and headed for the Camaldoli woods. Near a house called “Le Capanne” there was a shelter where the headquarters were located. He was taken inside, still holding the bag, and given his death sentence there. When he came out he no longer had the bag, which had been kept as proof of his link with the enemy.
The refugees, by taking the things they had found in the truck to the rectory, gave the Germans a pretext to justify the sentence. The story was told by two girls who lived in Le Capanne. The soldiers left the shelter with Don Enzo, crossed the woods and a field, and went up towards the Montanino. When the two soldiers came back, they said to the girls: “Pastore Kaputt”. They had bloodstains on their uniforms. It was September 5th 1944.
It wasn’t until five months later, when people were scouring the trenches for war residues, that the body of Don Turinesi came to light.