In May 1944 the Allies finally broke through at Cassino and Rome’s citizens listened covertly to Radio Londra and Radio Bari, sure that the Allies would soon reach the capital. By the end of the month, the rumble of cannons was audible even in the centre.

On 3rd June, inhabitants of viali Margherita, Liegi and Parioli, and along il Corso and via Flaminia saw columns of German troops and armoured vehicles. They were leaving Rome, heading north.

That night, the senior members of the fascist hierarchy left.

Many gathered in via Veneto, where they joined the departing Germans, although others, identifiable as fascists but less senior, were left behind; either they were not told, or they received the news too late.

Meanwhile, partisans, who had been outside of Rome, began to make their way into the city.

Some encountered German troops but were not confronted by them. The individual German soldiers they met saw this as the start of their own return home.

Carlo Trabucco, one of the partisans, recounted how an exhausted German soldier spoke to him in a mixture of German, Italian and French:

“Mi andar ja… nach Firenze… Paris et après à ma maison.”