Naples:life,death &
                Miracle contact: Jeff Matthews

entry Oct. 2013
     index for this series         

Through the Eyes of...
 This is a NY Times report from Oct. 1, 1943, about the armed uprising
in the city the previous week by civilians against German forces still
in the city. The episode has come to be called

Le Quattro Giornate di Napoli -- The Four Days of Naples

If you have found this page independently and not through the Miscellaneous section or the relevant entry in the main body of this encyclopedia, I say this in the miscellaneous entry for Oct. 2, 2013:

Every year during the last week of September, Naples commemorates the so-called "Four Days [Quattro Giornate] of Naples," an armed civilian uprising in September against German forces in the city during WWII. There is a  square in Naples named Quattro Giornate; there is also a large memorial at the seaside near Mergellina, and there are various plaques in place to honor the event. (There was also a 1962 film directed by Nanni Loy about the event.

In the main body of the encyclopedia, at this link, I say:
In the so-called Quattro Giornate di Napoli (Four Days of Naples), a popular uprising in September 1943 against German forces in Naples saw Neapolitan scugnizzi (street kids) engaged in harrying tactics against the hard-pressed Wehrmacht, the German army, already in disarray in the face of the Anglo-American invasion at Salerno. It is part of Neapolitan lore that such armed civilian resistance helped drive the Germans from the city. The monument consists of sculpted monoliths raised on a platform; each slab contains intense detail of humans involved in war. The monument is the work of Marino Mazzacurati and was set up in 1963.
This is the earliest account of the episode I could find. I have deleted some paragraphs, as indicated, that were not relevant to the dynamics of the battle.
this rag-tag population of war weary civilians which succeeded in defeating the best armored tank division in the war  in just four days; thus presenting a free city to the Allies who came to “liberate” it on October 1, 1943. - See more at:

Published: October 3, 1943
The New York Times


Street Battles, joined by army men marked last week of city’s occupation.

Casualties were very heavy.

Hospitals crowded with dead and wounded children, as well as adults.

By Hal Boyle
Associated Press Correspondent

NAPLES, Oct. 1 (delayed)—Italian guerrillas and American soldiers, in a thrilling battle of the rooftops over crowded Neapolitan streets, shot it out for an hour with the last pocket of enemy resistance in Naples late today and captured eighteen trapped Germans and fifteen Italian Fascists.

The main German forces had left early in the morning after seven days of street rioting and clashes with armed followers of premier Pietro Badoglio, who rebelled against German attempts to draft 30,000 Italian workers.

“We thought the last enemy troops had gone when an English-speaking Italian came up to our command post and said he and his friends had some Fascisti and Tedeschi —that’s their word for Germans—cornered in an old Temple,” Private James H. Smart of Los Angeles said. “When we got there, they opened up on us with rifles, machine guns and carbines, potato-masher grenades —everything you could ask for.”

The entrenched enemy flung all the fire-power that he could and, for a time, pinned down the attackers, who picked back from around street corners. The young Italian guerrillas, fighting with collars open and no helmets, looked like something out of the French Revolution.

They fired through holes in concrete rails bordering a hospital, where hundreds of wounded and unburied dead—victims of the week-long street fighting and German executions—lay. Two hundred dead men, women and children—some dead for a week—lay alongside one of the walls of the hospital and on the other side were wailing survivors and 600 wounded persons. These were just a fraction of the toll.

The sound of the fighting caused thousands of Neapolitans to rush into the streets. They were so intoxicated by the triumphant entrance of the Allies into the city that they rushed, heedless of danger, to watch the last of the hated enemy get a taste of his own lead medicine.

“After we knocked them out of the temple they took to the roofs,” Private Smart said. “We kept right after them until we cornered them and finally cornered them and forced them to give up.”

It then became a problem of protecting the prisoners from the threatening crowd and the more fanatical members of the guerrilla bands, he added. The whole battle was fought without a single American casualty.

On one closed door in the hospital, frantic men and weeping women beat with bare knuckles. Attendants, who let them pass through a few at a time, admitted us into this storehouse of the dead, where the bodies of those who had been killed in the street fighting or who had died of wounds in the hospital had lain awaiting identification. Those longest dead had been placed in plain wooden coffins. Among the dead were nine German soldiers, one Italian colonel, two Italian solders and thirty-thee Italian sailors. Most of the others were guerrillas slain by the Germans, or men, women, and children caught in the line of fire in the streets or in their homes... [skip 1 paragraph]

“Street fighting broke out after the Germans ordered the citizens to give up their guns and told 30,000 Italian men of the classes of 1910 and 1935 to report for labor conscription on Sept. 24,” our interpreter, Umberto Franco, an Italian glass manufacturer, said.

“When only 150 men reported, the Germans shot down the next day seventeen carabinieri—state police—in cold blood.

“The Germans said they would kill all people found with guns after that date. We do not keep guns, but many soldiers turned their carbines over to our young people or joined with them in fighting the Germans, who had begun killing at will.” …[skip 2 paragraphs]

[The secretary to the hospital director, Marinelli, said] ”…The civil war started last Saturday while Germans were burinng and looting the city of everything they could take. The people took up guns, knives and anything they could and fought the Germans and Fascists who still supported them. There have been hundreds and hundreds of persons wounded.”

[Last few paragraphs deleted. They supplied details of the condition of patients in the hospital.]

     to WWII portal        back to "Through the Eyes of..."     to top of this page   

© 2002-2023