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The 23 days of the city of Alba

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The conquest of Alba by the autonomous formations of the Langhe was the crowning of months and months of struggle on the hills, which had reduced the fascist garrison to the light, almost confined within the city.

The fascist troops in fact abandoned the city in an orderly and agreed on October 10, thanks to the intervention of the curia of Alba, chased by the partisans who were preparing to enter the streets triumphantly, then greeted by the festive population and the sound of the bells of all the city churches.

The military occupation of the city bothered the high fascist authorities, from Turin to Salò, who immediately thought about how to get back into possession because the free zone represented a “stain” on their prestige.

For this reason, not only Italian troops participated in the reconquest of Alba, in particular anti-partisan units of the RAU (official daring departments), formations of the GNR and black brigade, a platoon of cavalry and some departments of the X mas (Bgt Lupo e 1 ^ and 2 ^ cp. Btg. Fulmine). [2]

The partisans, who gave life to a civil government maintaining the order and the trade, controlled above all the banks of the river Tanaro to the north and the entrance of the city from the south, while the whole west side was thought to be reasonably safe for the presence of the river in flood and especially after the mine that, it was thought, had collapsed the bridge over the river in Pollenzo, a few km away. The bridge (of ropes), however, was only partially destroyed, and was under the control of the SS of Captain Wesser (stationed in the castle of the royal circle of Pollenzo) and was then repaired without their knowledge.

On the night of November 2, it was run by the fascist troops, who reached the city from the south and wandered from the east, on the hills, while another group passed the river on a bridge of boats and penetrated from the west. The alarm was given early in the morning by a man who managed to escape the fascist vanguards who had killed his three companions, in the locality of Toetto, while sheltering from the heavy rain under the roof of a small church (Fenoglio writes that they were playing cards).

The partisans waited for the fascist vanguards, concentrating on the southern line of San Cassiano farm, where there were some trenches, but soon they realized that the enemy was wandering them from the east because they started firing, and they stopped the machine guns one after the other. on some dominant positions (villa Monsordo, castelgherlone) on the left.

Seized in numerical inferiority and with serious logistical difficulties (mainly due to adverse weather conditions) the partisans folded up on a hill (loc. Villa Miroglio) and then retreated again in the Langa. The fascists, having penetrated into Alba without the greeting of the population, “went the bells in person” (B. Fenoglio, “The twenty-three days of the city of Alba”).

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