August 6, 1944 in Florence, Italy

On August 6, 1944, a bulletin from the Nazi command allowed the women and boys in Florence to leave home during pre-determined hours of the day to gather supplies of  water and food. But the lack of electricity, gas, and manpower forced the bakers to distribute flour instead of bread, or even just wheat and corn grain, since the mills had either been destroyed or were unavailable.

Proclamation of Emergency allowed Red Cross personnel and physicians to circulate freely throughout the city. Exploiting this, the Italian resistance commanders started to produce false medical IDs.

Thanks in particular to the audacity of the partisan Enrico Fischer from the Partito d’Azione, who headed the Third Company of the Third Zone of the city, it had been possibile since August 4 to communicate between the partisans and Allies to communicate. The partisans were located on the right side of the Arno, and the Allied Command was established in the Oltrarno.

Fischer achieved this extremely helpful feat by gaining access to the famed Vasari Corridor shortly after the Germans demolished the cities main bridges. It was an especially amazing feat because the Nazis were still occupying a part of Palazzo Vecchio. By accessing the Corridoio Vasariano, Fishcer was able to connect operations in the Uffizi to the operations in the Palazzo Pitti on other side of the river.

Assisted by some municipal guards, Fischer managed to drag a telephone wire along the corridor, linking the opposite riverside with a partisan guardhouse established in Palazzo Vecchio.

Thus, with a direct link connecting the military command in Palazzo Strozzi, the CTLN in via Condotta and the partisans in Palazzo Vecchio, it was now possible to inform the Allies about all the operations occurring on the right side of the Arno, including the visible conditions of the Germans and their suspected intentions.

In the Occupied Zone, the population conditions were becoming ever more difficult: there was almost no food and only a small ration of flour was available for the population (never higher than 100 grams per person). As an example, on August 9 only 65 grams of flour per person was distributed.

More than food, the very little water was available, and it was now being sold at extremely high prices.

Furthermore, it was impossible to care for the sick or to bury the dead. There was a torrid August temperature, and no one in the city was able to remove garbage from the streets.

The Allies informed the CTLN, using the above cited telephone line passing through Ponte Vecchio, that they would cross the river with two columns, upstream and downstream of the city, to avoid further destructions. Also, they assured that they would not bombard the city’s center.

The military command, after having transferred the key point from the Cupola del Duomo to the tower of Palazzo Vecchio, so to be nearer to the telephone unit, was continuously informing the Allied command about the dislocation of German troops.

Finally, the Nazis knew that the time to escape had arrived.


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