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Surname Studies  

Men who Died in the Caves of Ardeatine, 1944

Thursday afternoon, March 23, 1944, and a group of partisans attacked a column of 156 SS police on the Via Rasella in the center of German-occupied Rome. Immediately upon receiving the news, Hitler ordered that within twenty-four hours ten Italians must be exterminated for each German killed. 335 Italian men and boys from all walks of life were brutally murdered.

In questo loco nel di 24 Marzo 1944
con odio profondo il nazifascismo immondo
construi l'eterna tomba del suo barbaro male
oscurando con la sua tenebra l'universo Cielo di Roma.
Ora l'anima dei 500 e piu.. torturati..
dalia oscura grotta del martirio
nella luce del mondo di Cristo proietta la sua Crove
redentrice di bene e di pace.
Oh passeggero un fiore una prece.

In 1966, author Robert Katz researched and published a book called 'Death in Rome', which reconstructed the events that led to this unforgettable event in history. We have compiled the surnames listed in the appendix created by Mr. Katz into an index for genealogists to search.

Surname Search

Search for your own surname and see if there is a match in this listing of men known to have died in the Ardeatine caves.


Citation: Robert Katz, Death in Rome, 1967. For additional information, visit Mr. Katz's website

Note from Illya D'Addezio:

This weekend during a regular used bookstore romp, I came across Robert Katz's book. Not being entirely familiar with all of Italian history, the events covered in his 260 page account sadly struck a nerve in my efforts to help people with their research. It is often the case that genealogy leads us into very depressing areas and this is one such case. The 335 men who gave their lives to repay an insane 'debt' should not be forgotten.

If you know anything about this event that you would like to share, please write me an e-mail message.

A Story from Daniel A. Montory:

On our last day in Rome before we departed Venice, my friend Mario asked to see the catacombs in Rome. We took a city bus to the outskirts of town and transfered to yet another bus that took us in the area of the catacombs. As we departed from the bus, we turned from the bus and walked down the hill (instead of up). Eventually, we walked into a beautiful building and came across a small cave with an iron gate in front of it. There was a sign written in Italian, but unfortunately I cannot read Italian.

Earlier, on the plane going to Rome, I had related to my friend a movie that I saw around 21 years ago about the massacre, called La Rappresaglia (in Italian); Massacre in Rome (in English). It was made in 1973 by George Pan Cosmatos.

Getting back to the cave walk, we continued to follow a sign that said Museo and as we entered the next building, I had the shock of my life. Right in front of me was a picture of the top ranking officer Colonel Kappler, his hat and luger in a glass case. I lost all control of my emotions and in a very loud voice I exclaimed "Mario, this is about that story I told you on the plane!" Then as we continued on, we found a beautiful building with 335 marble coffins spread out on the floor with the names of everyone that was interred within.

To this day, I always amazed when I think about the chain of events that led us to this shrine. I found the whole exprerience to be extremely interesting and extremely heart wrenching at the same time.

Related Stories

Poster for sale

Rappresaglia (a.k.a. "Massacre in Rome")

A 1973 movie by George P. Cosmatos (with Marcello Mastroianni, Richard Burton) details the true story of the tragedy at Ardeatine. Summary: "Massacre in Rome" is the true story of how this partisan attack led to the mass execution of Italian nationals under the orders of SS-Lieutenant Colonel Kappler. This movie was also written by Robert Katz (see my note above about his book). Poster for sale

An online review of the movie.



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