Italy / Story

Clandestine Military Front




After the German occupation of Rome, the soldiers who remained in the capital tried to organise themselves, forming the Clandestine Military Front, which became the largest and most important autonomous military formation, linked to the Badoglio government and outside the Cln (National Liberation Committee). Among its leaders was Giuseppe Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, who was later killed at the Fosse Ardeatine.

The Military Conspiracy Center, later the Clandestine Military Front, was created by General Antonio Sorice in the aftermath of the armistice.

Colonel Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, former member of the general staff and head of the Civil Affairs office of the Rome Open City command, was placed in charge. The latter entered the underground at the end of September under the name of Eng. Giacomo Cateratto, later Prof. Giuseppe Martini.

He undertook to link the wards that remained loyal to the king and made contact with the sovereign in early October, becoming his official representative.

He managed to build a very solid network, especially in central Italy, organizing a military structure that also involved the Navy and Carabinieri; and an intelligence service in connection with the Allies.

In December 1943 he drafted and circulated directives for guerrilla warfare in which emphasis was placed on sabotage activities, intelligence gathering and maintaining public order after the German retreat. He also subtracted watermarked paper with which he made and circulated fake ration cards.

However, the wait-and-see attitude contrasted with the Cln line, and the tension was not resolved even with Montezemolo's entry into the military junta.

Cooperation became more active after the Anzio landings and in preparation for the liberation of Rome.

But Montezemolo overexposed himself and was arrested on January 25, along with his friend Filippo de Grenet, as he was leaving a meeting with General Armellini.

He was taken to Via Tasso, segregated for 58 and tortured several times . He was later among the victims of the Fosse Ardeatine.

After his death the command of the Front passed first to Qurino Armellini and then to Roberto Bencivenga.

From May 16 to 23 the Germans arrested several representatives of the Front, and on the 29th also the chief of staff Angelo Odone.

They also attempted to arrest Bencivenga in Lateran but failed.

In all, the Front engaged more than 1,600 people, over 2,000 of whom were militarily active.