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Moroccan soldiers at Monte Cassino, January 1944

Marocchinate (pronounced [marokkiˈnate], Italian for "Moroccans’ deeds") is a term applied to the mass rape and killings committed during World War II after the Battle of Monte Cassino in Italy. These were committed mainly by the Moroccan Goumiers, colonial troops of the French Expeditionary Corps (FEC),[1] commanded by General Alphonse Juin, and mostly targeted civilian women and girls (as well as a few men and boys) in the rural area between Naples and Rome, traditionally known in Italian as Ciociaria.

The monument "Mamma Ciociara" was erected in remembrance of the Marocchinate women, particularly those who were killed during the military campaign.


Goumiers were colonial irregular troops forming the "Goums Marocains", which were approximately company-sized units rather loosely grouped in "Tabors" (battalions) and Groups (regiments). Three of the units, the 1st, 3rd and 4th Groupements de Tabors, served in the FEC along with the four regular divisions: the 1st Free French Division, the 2nd Moroccan Infantry Division, the 3rd Algerian Infantry Division and the 4th Moroccan Mountain Division. The French: Goums Marocains were commanded by General Augustin Guillaume.

Regular Moroccan troops (tirailleurs Marocain) also served in Italy but under tighter discipline and with a higher proportion of officers than the irregular goumiers.

On May 14, 1944, the Goumiers travelled over seemingly impassable terrain in the Aurunci Mountains, outflanked the German defence in the adjacent Liri valley, materially assisting the British XIII Corps of the British Eighth Army, to break the Gustav Line and advance to the next Wehrmacht prepared defensive position, the Hitler Line.

An alleged statement by General Alphonse Juin before the battle said: "For fifty hours you will be the absolute masters of what you will find beyond the enemy. Nobody will punish you for what you will do, nobody will ask you about what you will get up to."[2] Recent research has showed this statement was forged after the war by Italian victims' associations and is linked to the perception of the crimes by the Italians rather than an official policy of the French Army.[3]

Mass rape[edit]

Monte Cassino was captured by the Allies on May 18, 1944. The next night, thousands of Goumiers and other colonial troops scoured the slopes of the hills surrounding the town and the villages of Ciociaria (in South Latium). Italian victims' associations such as Associazione Nazionale Vittime delle Marocchinate alleged that 60,000 women, ranging in age from 11 to 86, suffered from violence, when village after village came under control of the Goumiers. Estimates made by the Italian Ministry of Defence in 1997 set the figure at 2,000 to 3,000 female victims.[4] The number of men killed has been estimated at 800.[5] In fact, due to incomplete reports of the crimes, a precise account is impossible.[6]

The mayor of Esperia, a comune in the Province of Frosinone, reported that in his town, 700 women out of 2,500 inhabitants were raped, resulting in many deaths. According to Italian victims associations, a total of more than 7,000 civilians, including children, were raped by Goumiers.[7]

Cultural depictions[edit]

In Castro dei Volsci, a monument called the "Mamma Ciociara" now stands to remember all the mothers who tried in vain to defend themselves and their daughters.[8][9]

In 1957, the Italian writer Alberto Moravia wrote the novel La Ciociara based on the mass rape. It is the drama of a mother and her daughter, both raped by the Goumiers. The novel was made into a movie, Two Women, directed by Vittorio de Sica and starring Sophia Loren, for which Loren won the Academy Award for Best Actress, the first time it was awarded for a non-English-speaking role.

Claims of exaggeration[edit]

Other sources like French Marshal Jean de Lattre de Tassigny claimed that such cases were isolated events exploited by German propaganda to smear allies, particularly French troops.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ French: Corps Expéditionaire Français (CEF) or Corps Expéditionaire Français en Italie (CEFI)
  2. ^ "Crimini di Guerra in Ciociaria" [War Crimes in Ciociaria]. Dal Volturno a Cassino (in Italian). 
  3. ^ Baris, Tommaso. "Le corps expéditionnaire français en Italie – Violences des " libérateurs " durant l'été 1944" [The French Expeditionary Corps in Italy – Violence of the "liberators" during the summer of 1944] (in French). 
  4. ^ Issue 716, International News Electronic Telegraph 11 May 1997
  5. ^ "Seduta Notturna Di Lunedì 7 Aprile 1952" [Sitting by Night: Monday, August 7, 1952] (PDF) (in Italian). Chamber of Deputies. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 21, 2011. 
  6. ^ Baris, Tommaso. "Le corps expéditionnaire français en Italie – Violences des " libérateurs " durant l'été 1944" [The French Expeditionary Corps in Italy – Violence of the "liberators" during the summer of 1944] (in French). 
  7. ^ "1952: Il caso delle "marocchinate" al Parlamento" (in Italian). Retrieved 2008-11-22. 
  8. ^ (in Italian) Mamma Ciociara
  9. ^ (in Italian) La Mamma Ciociara
  10. ^ Jean de Lattre de Tassigny, Reconquérir: 1944-1945. Textes du maréchal Lattre de Tassigny réunis et présentés par Jean-Luc Barre, éditions Plon, 1985, p. 32-33


External links[edit]