Pietro Koch

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Pietro Koch (18 August 1918 – 4 June 1945) was an Italian soldier and leader of the Banda Koch, a group notorious for its anti-partisan activity in the Republic of Salò.

The son of an Imperial German Navy officer, Koch was born in Benevento.[1] Koch served as a lieutenant in the Grenadiers where he was unpopular with his fellow soldiers and was dismissed from the army in 1939 for insulting a superior officer.[1] Recalled on the eve of the war, he saw continuous service until the armistice of September 1943, after which he moved to Florence.[1]

Settling in the Social Republic in the north of Italy, Koch joined the 'Special Service of Republican Police' led by Tullio Tamburini.[1] It was in January 1944 that he established Banda Koch as a special task force charged with hunting down partisans and rounding up deportees for the Germans.[1] Koch came under the protection of Herbert Kappler, SD chief in Koch's base of Rome, and as such had a free hand to employ whatever tactics he saw fit with Banda Koch, which soon became a by-word for cruelty and violence.[1] Koch was given his own prisons and torture chambers and continued his activity in Florence and then Milan following the fall of Rome to the Allies.[1]

Feared even by Benito Mussolini for his violent extremism, Il Duce eventually had his close ally Renzo Montagna arrest Koch for his excesses in October 1944.[1] He soon fell into Allied hands and was convicted of six charges at the High Court.[1] He was executed at Rome's Forte Bravetta aged 26.[1]