Skip to main content

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.


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 .

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Gothic Line." Dictionary of American History. . 21 Feb. 2019 <>.

"Gothic Line." Dictionary of American History. . (February 21, 2019).

"Gothic Line." Dictionary of American History. . Retrieved February 21, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.