News

VATICAN RESCUE ROLE

Katrina Lee,
6 Jun 2014

Seventy years ago this month Rome was liberated from the Nazis.

It was in June 1944 after winning the Battle of Monte Cassino, the Allies swept further north and entered Rome on the 4th June 1944, by sunset the next day all of Rome had been liberated and celebrations ensued. This was especially so for the remaining Jews of Rome, who emerged from hiding in many convents and monasteries plus emerging from Vatican City itself. Sadly 1000 had been rounded up by the Nazis in October 1943 and despatched to Auschwitz by train (No X70469) from Termini but some 7,000 had been saved.

Tim Fischer said this today after a recent visit to Rome and Domus Australia, highlighting the onward diplomatic roles of the hub of Rome, through to this day.

"Many countries have three Ambassadors based in Rome today, a bilateral Ambassador to Italy, a Rome resident Ambassador to the nation city state of the Holy See (Capital of which is the 44 hectare Vatican City) as well as an Ambassador to the FAO or Food Agriculture Organisation of the UN." Mr Fischer said.

"Whilst London and New York are huge hubs, Rome should not be underestimated as a hub as well, dealing with such key issues as Food Security and Refugees. Pope Francis is further renewing Vatican diplomatic activity as notably Pope John Paul 11 had done for over two decades until 2005. Pope Benedict XVI also played a key role, e.g with the adoption of the Cluster Bombs Convention.

"Back in World War 11, the Vatican played a delicate role on several fronts, especially during the Nazi occupation of Rome. It played a very specific role in relation to one Kiwi soldier Lt Paul Freyberg, the son of General Bernard Freyberg VC. Paul was captured by German forces near Castel Gandolfo. Whilst his father was leading Kiwi units at Monte Cassino, Paul managed to escape from the German compound and sneak into the Pope's summer palace at Castel Gandolfo.

"The famous Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty (who helped rescue many allied service personnel) drove up from Rome to Castel Gandolfo, in the courtyard of the Pope's palace he put Paul Freyberg in the boot of the car and then drove back to the Vatican which was considered a safer location at the time. After Rome fell to the Allies, in a famous father-son moment General Freyberg of two world wars fame, drove into the Vatican and picked up his son, then proceeded to the Hotel Quirinale near the top of Via Nationale, for a deserved celebration!"

Tim Fischer said this was a true story that is detailed in the manuscript for his forthcoming book "Maestro John Monash", it is a colourful twist to the agony and yet ultimate victory of the British, New Zealand, Polish and USA forces at Monte Cassino in 1944, leading to the Allied capture of Rome, stating that Sir Bernard Freyberg VC was later NZ Governor General 1946 - 1952 .

Mr Fischer added that Domus Australia is a very convenient and comfortable place to stay in the hub of Rome and is just near Termini Station.