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By Jeff Matthews

Video of the Anti-Atomic Bunker of Monte Soratte (Rome)

The daily paper la Repubblica has published a video on its website about the bunker/air-raid shelter of Monte Soratte near Rome. The video is narrated in Italian, but with this short introduction (below) you can enjoy the video about the site. It played a very interesting part in the history of Italy in WWII and in later decades.

Monte Soratte is a mountain ridge in the province of Rome, 45 km (28 miles) north of the city of Rome. It is a narrow, isolated limestone ridge 5.5 km (3.4 mi) long with six peaks, the highest of which is 691 m (2267 feet) above sea level  it is the only notable ridge in the Tiber Valley. In the late 1930s Mussolini decided to build a bunker/stronghold at Monte Soratte for high-ranking members of the government and Italian military in case of air-raids. Construction started in the autumn of 1937 under the guise of building a munitions factory. The work was finished and equipped in 4½ years; the total length of the completed tunnels was 4 km, with more projected.

The site functioned as an Italian military installation until September 8, 1943, when Italy officially surrendered to the Allies. At that point, Italy's former ally, Germany, became its enemy and launched Operation Achse, the disarmament of Italian armed forces, part of which involved taking over the Monte Soratte facility, which Germany did; Field Marshal Albert Kesselring moved his headquarters from Frascati to the bunker in Monte Soratte. The site became the German High Command for Southern Europe and served as such from Sept. 13, 1943 to June 3, 1944, during which time it successfully withstood allied air raids. When the Germans withdrew to the north in June of 1944, they unsuccessfully tried to “blow” the bunker. Damage was minimal.

Post-war

Between 1952 and 1962, the Italian army again utilized the bunker as a powder magazines. In 1963 the Soratte bunker was equipped to house high government officials to insure the survival of the nation in the case of an atomic bombing of Rome. The “atomic refurbishing” involved the modernization of the site, the original dimensions of which were already impressive enough: 1.3 km of walkways spread over three levels; total volume, 65,000 cubic meters; and depths between 250 and 315 meters. That work went on until 1972. Further work was projected into the 1980s. The site was abandoned in 1989. The nearest local community, Sant'Oreste, is sponsoring (with European funding) the conversion of the entire Soratte bunker complex into a museum. It is currently available for limited visits by groups.

Video - Good viewing! Invisible: Trip within the Soratte bunker - the history of the 1900s is underground

Also, there is a Bunker Soratte Association at
http://www.bunkersoratte.it/

It is entirely in Italian. They have an email contact at
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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