Fosse Ardeatine remembered

70th anniversary of Rome massacre

The traditional commemoration ceremony takes place at Rome's Fosse Ardeatine mausoleum on Monday 24 March, in memory of the 335 people killed by the then occupying Nazi forces 70 years ago, on 24 March 1944.

The ceremony at 10.00 is being held in the presence of the Italian president Giorgio Napolitano who will lay a wreath at the memorial site, followed by a Catholic and Jewish prayer service. At 11.45 the mayor of Rome Ignazio Marino lays a wreath at the city's Jewish Synagogue, in memory of the Jewish victims of the Fosse Ardeatine massacre.

The mass killing in 1944 was in retaliation to a partisan attack on a column of marching German policemen the day before on Via Rasella, near Piazza Barberini in central Rome. The Nazis decided that ten Italians should be executed for each German, an order soon authorised by Hitler who stipulated that it be carried out within 24 hours.

This is the first anniversary to occur without the former SS officer Erich Priebke who died last October while serving a life sentence under house arrest for his role in the massacre. One of the world's last Nazi criminals, Priebke lived in the Boccea district of Rome and his funeral arrangements caused controversy in the capital.