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Gothic Line

GOTHIC LINE

GOTHIC LINE. In June 1944, when the Germans gave up Rome to the Allies, Adolf Hitler ordered his troops in Italy to retreat north and make a defensive stand in the Apennines near the Po River valley. The Gothic Line, as it came to be called, was a belt of fortifications ten miles deep and about two hundred miles long, in naturally strong defensive terrain, across Italy from Carrara to Pesaro. Impressed laborers from occupied countries began construction in mid-1943, and work to strengthen the positions continued even after German combat troops occupied the line in mid-1944. By August, 2,400 machine-gun posts, 500 gun and mortar positions, 120,000 meters of barbed wire, several Panther tank-gun turrets embedded in steel and concrete bases, and many miles of antitank ditches had been incorporated into the line.

After entering Rome on 4 June, the American and British armies drove north. Two months later they were near Pisa, Arezzo, and Ancona and on the Gothic Line approaches. On 25 August the Allies attacked. Against stiff resistance, the British captured Rimini on 21 September, and the Americans took the Futa and Giogo passes on the road to Bologna. Winter weather forced the Allies to halt their offensive operations until April 1945, when they broke the Gothic Line. American troops entered the Po River valley and took Bologna on 21 April. Unable to stop the Allied advances, the German commander, Gen. Heinrich von Vietinghoff, agreed to an unconditional surrender on 29 April, thereby bringing to an end the bitterly fought Italian campaign of World War II.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Clark, Mark Wayne. Calculated Risk. New York: Harper, 1950.

MacDonald, Charles Brown, and Sidney T. Mathews. Three Battles. Washington, D.C.: Center of Military History, U.S. Army, 1993.

Orgill, Douglas. The Gothic Line: The Autumn Campaign in Italy, 1944. London: Heinemann, 1967.

MartinBlumenson/a. r.

See alsoAnzio ; Gustav Line ; Monte Cassino ; Salerno ; World War II .

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