Liberation of Rome

Men of the 1st Battalion, Duke of Wellington's Regiment, during liberation of Rome, June 8, 1944

Men of the 1st Battalion, Duke of Wellington’s Regiment, during liberation of Rome, June 8, 1944

On June 4, 1944, the Allies liberated Rome, Italy, from the Germans, making it the first of the Axis capitals to fall during World War II.

Background

Following a successful invasion of Sicily, the Allies moved on mainland Italy in September 1943, with landings on both the east and west coasts of the country.

As Allied troops in the west tried to break through the Gustav Line (a German defense line running across central Italy), they were blocked at Monte Cassino. More Allied troops were landed at Anzio in late January 1944, with the goal of outflanking the German troops, drawing them away from the Gustav Line, and opening up the way to Rome. However, Allied troops at Anzio themselves got bogged down in a 4-month stalemate with the Germans.

Finally, in May 1944, Allied troops at both Monte Cassino and Anzio were able to break out. As German troops retreated from Monte Cassino, American General Mark Clark made the decision to send the main body of his U.S. forces from Anzio to Rome rather than have them cut off the retreating Germans.

Liberation of Rome

As the Allied troops neared Rome, the Germans positioned there abandoned the city, allowing the Allies to take it virtually without a fight. When the Americans took possession of Rome on June 4th, they found it largely undamaged. The people of Rome flooded the streets to welcome Allied troops with cheers, flowers, wine, and kisses. Shops closed, and jubilant crowds celebrated.

Importance

The liberation of Rome was important not only strategically but culturally as well. In addition to the extensive network of airfields, rail lines, and roads, Rome was a treasure trove of culture, antiquities, and artifacts. The symbolic significance of city’s liberation also boosted morale on the Allied home front, particularly in the United States.

However, General Clark’s decision to prioritize the liberation of Rome has been criticized, as it allowed Germans retreating from Monte Cassino to escape and later reinforce German defenses further north.

Learn more about the Liberation of Rome through historical newspapers from our archives. Explore newspaper articles, headlines, images, and other primary sources below.


Articles and Clippings about the Liberation of Rome

Map showing the final Allied drive toward the liberation of RomeMap showing the final Allied drive toward the liberation of Rome Sat, May 27, 1944 – 2 · Princeton Daily Clarion (Princeton, Indiana) · Newspapers.comU.S. newspaper front page announcing the liberation of RomeU.S. newspaper front page announcing the liberation of Rome Mon, Jun 5, 1944 – Page 1 · Detroit Free Press (Detroit, Michigan) · Newspapers.comCanadian newspaper front page coverage of the Allied liberation of RomeCanadian newspaper front page coverage of the Allied liberation of Rome Mon, Jun 5, 1944 – 1 · The Gazette (Montreal, Quebec, Quebec, Canada) · Newspapers.comBritish newspaper articles about the Allies' liberation of Rome in June 1944British newspaper articles about the Allies' liberation of Rome in June 1944 Mon, Jun 5, 1944 – 5 · The Guardian (London, Greater London, England) · Newspapers.comAustralian newspaper front page articles about the liberation of Rome in 1944Australian newspaper front page articles about the liberation of Rome in 1944 Tue, Jun 6, 1944 – Page 1 · The Sydney Morning Herald (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia) · Newspapers.comMap showing how Allied troops entered Rome during its liberation in June 1944Map showing how Allied troops entered Rome during its liberation in June 1944 Mon, Jun 5, 1944 – Page 1 · The Greenville News (Greenville, South Carolina) · Newspapers.comAllies' liberation of Rome will allow them to access war damage to Vatican CityAllies' liberation of Rome will allow them to access war damage to Vatican City Mon, Jun 5, 1944 – 4 · The Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, California) · Newspapers.comPicture of Allied troops entering Rome on Route 6 in tanks and other vehiclesPicture of Allied troops entering Rome on Route 6 in tanks and other vehicles Mon, Jun 5, 1944 – 1 · The Central New Jersey Home News (New Brunswick, New Jersey) · Newspapers.comCanadian newspaper prints prime minister's remarks on Canada’s part in the liberation of RomeCanadian newspaper prints prime minister's remarks on Canada’s part in the liberation of Rome Mon, Jun 5, 1944 – 3 · The Vancouver Sun (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada) · Newspapers.comImage of General Mark Clark of the Fifth Army riding in procession in the heart of RomeImage of General Mark Clark of the Fifth Army riding in procession in the heart of Rome Tue, Jun 6, 1944 – Page 16 · The Decatur Herald (Decatur, Illinois) · Newspapers.comEye-witness account of the celebrations in Rome after its liberation by the AlliesEye-witness account of the celebrations in Rome after its liberation by the Allies Tue, Jun 6, 1944 – 2 · The Morning Post (Camden, New Jersey) · Newspapers.comBritish newspaper reports on President Roosevelt’s speech on importance of the liberation of RomeBritish newspaper reports on President Roosevelt’s speech on importance of the liberation of Rome Tue, Jun 6, 1944 – 5 · The Guardian (London, Greater London, England) · Newspapers.comPresident Roosevelt praises the contributions of the countries that helped liberate RomePresident Roosevelt praises the contributions of the countries that helped liberate Rome Tue, Jun 6, 1944 – Page 11 · St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, Missouri) · Newspapers.comExcerpt from an editorial about the effect Rome's liberation may have on Italy and its peopleExcerpt from an editorial about the effect Rome's liberation may have on Italy and its people Tue, Jun 6, 1944 – 4 · The Guardian (London, Greater London, England) · Newspapers.comEditorial: Editorial: "Free Rome Is a Symbol of the Past--and Future" Tue, Jun 6, 1944 – 10 · Courier-Post (Camden, New Jersey) · Newspapers.comPictures from the Allied liberation of Rome, Italy, in June 1944Pictures from the Allied liberation of Rome, Italy, in June 1944 Wed, Jun 7, 1944 – 9 · The Semi-Weekly Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Washington) · Newspapers.comWinston Chuchill’s speech to the House of Commons on the 1944 invasion of Rome & D-DayWinston Chuchill’s speech to the House of Commons on the 1944 invasion of Rome & D-Day Wed, Jun 7, 1944 – 6 · The Gazette (Montreal, Quebec, Quebec, Canada) · Newspapers.comColumnist speculates on why the Germans abandoned Rome Columnist speculates on why the Germans abandoned Rome "without a real fight" Wed, Jun 7, 1944 – Page 4 · The Cincinnati Enquirer (Cincinnati, Ohio) · Newspapers.comDescription of the humanitarian situation in Rome following its liberation from the GermansDescription of the humanitarian situation in Rome following its liberation from the Germans Thu, Jun 8, 1944 – 4 · Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Illinois) · Newspapers.comNewspaper correspondent describes situation in Rome a week after its liberationNewspaper correspondent describes situation in Rome a week after its liberation Mon, Jun 12, 1944 – 6 · The Windsor Star (Windsor, Ontario, Canada) · Newspapers.comVarious newspapers give reactions to & opinions about news of the liberation of Rome in June 1944Various newspapers give reactions to & opinions about news of the liberation of Rome in June 1944 Sat, Jun 17, 1944 – 6 · Rapid City Journal (Rapid City, South Dakota) · Newspapers.comNewspaper reports Nazis killed nearly 1,000 Romans during occupation of RomeNewspaper reports Nazis killed nearly 1,000 Romans during occupation of Rome Mon, Sep 4, 1944 – Page 2 · Palladium-Item (Richmond, Indiana) · Newspapers.comRomans remember their experiences during the German occupation of Rome and the Allied liberationRomans remember their experiences during the German occupation of Rome and the Allied liberation Mon, Jun 4, 1984 – 9 · The Marshall News Messenger (Marshall, Texas) · Newspapers.comWorld War II veteran gives first-hand account of his experiences during the liberation of RomeWorld War II veteran gives first-hand account of his experiences during the liberation of Rome Wed, Jun 13, 1984 – Page 19 · The Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.comOp-ed: Italy, WWII's Forgotten Front Op-ed: Italy, WWII's Forgotten Front "Few Americans Seem to Remember the Allied Liberation of Rome" Sat, Jun 4, 1994 – Page 7 · The Des Moines Register (Des Moines, Iowa) · Newspapers.com
"Liberation of Rome," Newspapers.com Topics (https://www.newspapers.com/topics/world-war2/liberation-of-rome/ : accessed August 24, 2019)
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