The small village of Moggiona took on strategic importance in the Germans’ defence plans from November 1943, when the first troops of the Engineer Corps were stationed at Montanino to begin building fortifications on the mountain. The Todt construction organisation, which employed over 1,400 people (partly workers from the Viti company of Bergamo, partly locals), worked continuously to reinforce the Gothic Line in this sector, from January 1st until late August 1944; that is, until the emplacements became the actual front line.
As the Allies approached Bibbiena, the Germans began forcibly deporting towards the North many inhabitants who had stayed behind in Moggiona and the surrounding areas. On the morning of August 26th, German troops entered the village, firing into the fields, destroying houses and forcibly removing about 60 hapless residents. Some young girls were harassed but were saved from a worse fate by the great determination of their families. At the end of the day, almost all those captured were transferred to Romagna, except for three young women and two baby girls, who were taken back to Moggiona to join the only two families left there, the Mecianis and Maria Ceccherini’s.
Between August 26th and September 7th, what happened in Moggiona was similar to other Casentino villages in areas of combat or retreat: violent behaviour, the rape of young women, the damaging or destruction of buildings and infrastructure. But the brutality that ensued in Moggiona went far beyond the normal, cynical behaviour of other German troops in the territory. Around 6.30 p.m. on September 7th, the last cannon was towed from Moggiona to Montanino, followed by the troops who had been stationed until then in the village. But at that point two German soldiers, a lieutenant and a sergeant, arrived from Pratale and entered the street leading to Prato. There they asked the Meciani family for bread and then, without further explanation, machine-gunned everyone in the house. Five innocent people lost their lives. From there, the two murderers moved on to Prato, where another 11 civilians fell victim to their machine-gun fire. Two young girls and two women were spared from this phase of the massacre by the decision of the Germans to send them to Poppi beforehand. Unfortunately, they decided to return to the village, unaware of the shooting that had taken place. There they were caught by the sergeant and the lieutenant who, after reassuring them, suddenly opened fire. A mother and daughter lost their lives, while two very young sisters managed to escape in the darkness. Later, the Germans mined the bridge and blew it up before abandoning Moggiona.
For three days, Emilio Benedetti and Aurelio Ceccherini brought water and assistance to the wounded who remained in their stricken homes. In the meantime, other German troops (whose personnel also included Italian soldiers) passed through Moggiona, without giving the slightest help to the survivors.
On the morning of September 11th, the Camaldolese monks were informed of what happened by Aurelio Ceccherini, who was then only 12 years old. They brought first aid to the village and took the survivors back the monastery. Later, the German Command denied the Monks permission to approach the village, giving the approach of Allied troops as their reason. In reality, this lie was the final act of the tragedy.
Between September 12th and 21st, German troops entered the deserted village and mined the two houses of Prato and Villa. Their aim was to conceal the corpses and destroy the evidence of the massacre by simulating a bombing.
The whole Moggiona affair was thus, in all its phases, an event of particular gravity and dishonour for a military formation.