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The "Marche Liberate" collection includes copies of approximately 6,500 documents from British and American sources. It aims to provide an overview of the Allied role in the Italian Civil War and the political and economic reconstruction of the Marche region.


Italian administrative and military structures collapsed on September 8th, and when the Allies disembarked, they found a nation torn asunder. The government controlled only one small strip of southern Italy, while the rest of the country was at the mercy of the German occupiers, who championed the emerging Italian Social Republic. The legitimate government had signed the armistice, and slowly began to rebuild the administrative and bureaucratic structures of the state in the wake of the Allies' northward advances. As the Allied Forces occupied new territories in southern Italy, they needed to put in place governmental structures to control these areas, which often reached right up to the front line and were therefore of significant tactical and strategic interest. These structures also would need to meet the most pressing needs of the civilian population. To this end, the Allies set up the Allied Military Government (AMG). This was technically a special force comprising a small number of officers who were responsible for restructuring administrative, economic and civilian life in the liberated territories. They did so indirectly, managing, controlling and rebuilding those remnants of the Italian administrative structure that still existed.
Originally, this military government was to have had a limited number of goals and have been in place for a limited amount of time. This would have been the case if the Allies had advanced quickly and decisively. However, in light of the standstill that would come, the Allied administrators ended up overseeing large territories for extended periods of time. They carried out numerous important duties: not only did they protect civilian and economic life, they also laid the foundation for reconstruction, democratic dialogue, socioeconomic interactions, law and order, the educational system, social ties, transport and procurement. And they did so while continuing to fight against a steadfast enemy on land that favored the defenders rather than the attackers.
Between June 1944 and the end of the war in Italy (when the Allies were in power as liberators/occupiers), the Marche got off relatively "lightly" compared to southern regions such as Lazio and Abruzzi. Central and southern provinces in the Marche were bombed and strafed much less, and there were no long-term battles in the streets. Compare this, for example, to the town of Ortona a Mare, in Abruzzi, which was dubbed "Little Stalingrad" and saw two weeks of close-quarters, house-to-house fighting. On the other hand, Ancona was taken in less than three days, and by late September 1944, combat had ended in the Marche region. The retreating German troops mined some fields around the city, demolished numerous bridges and barricaded streets, but they did not have the time to effectively carry out a "scorched earth" campaign or to fortify along the entire Gothic Line. The people of the Marche had a decent though limited amount of food available thanks to local agriculture and fishing; enough supplies were stockpiled that a significant amount could be exported to regions with less provisions. Residents enjoyed functional hospitals and sufficient (albeit not plentiful) drinking water; they lacked electricity, gas, fuel, tires and medicine, and ports were seriously damaged.
The Marche region saw a "relatively intense" occupation, particularly because urban centers were well positioned to provide logistic, medical and storage services for the Eighth Army. This gave rise to several unwelcome consequences. Furloughed soldiers tended to seek comfort in wine; public buildings, hotels, restaurants and private homes were requisitioned to quarter officers; and troops stationed in the area rarely respected local facilities or the environment1.
Records collected as part of this project demonstrate that combat units were interested in the local population because they could provide a ready source of labor, helped maintain lines of communication and supplied food in exchange for the Allied Military Currency or provisions. Italian buildings, including art galleries and museums, were requisitioned more or less arbitrarily, with limited or no consideration for preserving the historic works they might harbor or for long-term economic reconstruction. Though AMG officers frequently expressed their heartfelt concerns about this to the Monuments, Fine Arts & Archives program, these often lost out to logistical, practical and military priorities.
The few dozen AMG officers for the entire Marche region were assigned the following (often contradictory) tasks:

  1. meeting the operational needs of the combat units;
  2. preventing epidemics and disorder;
  3. reconstructing the basic structures of economic and social life, leveraging Italian resources which were still available and reconstructing local administrative bodies as effectively as possible;
  4. protecting Italian artistic and architectural heritage.

Italian historiography has always seen the Allied military government as a homogeneous organization that had a heavy hand in determining the future of the country. However, Roger Absalom argued that what actually happened was significantly different, since the impact of the Allied occupation varied considerably depending on the region. Absalom found these distinctions to be the most significant and historiographically overlooked factor. In central Italy, where the Marche region is located, the Allies – at least in theory – held complete control. In fact, the central government did not have permission to communicate directly with the prefects put in place by the Allied Military Government. In regions on the front lines – such as the Province of Pesaro (before the front moved toward San Marino and Rimini) – the Eighth Army held command over the military government. In the Provinces of Ascoli, Macerata and Ancona, this (theoretically absolute) control rested in the hands of the Provincial Governors (generally lieutenants or colonels). Each of these ruled like a lord over the area he administered, and was assisted by a board including at most twenty lower-ranked officers as well as the more or less purged ranks of Italian officers and local and provincial civil servants still in the region after the Liberation. Rather than follow to the letter the endless, often inapplicable directives dictated by the Allied Commission in Rome – which in any case only needed to be reflected indirectly, in their actions – the Provincial Governors needed to gain the respect of the Allied combat forces on the ground without losing the respect of local civilians.
This "systemless system" likely helped to foster long-term (and often latent) autonomous tendencies. These were clearly present in the Marche, a diverse and traditionally parochial region, in the hands of emerging post-fascist elites.
The Carima Foundation's "Marche Liberate" collection provides a wealth of useful information about a key moment in the history of this central Italian region. It therefore is a unique resource for researchers to understand and interpret the Marche's past – gaining a broad knowledge of the military campaigns, occupation and actions of the Allied government – and to determine the role the Allies played in shaping the new and deep-seated Marche identity.

Description and organization of the "Marche Liberate" collection

Documents from the U.S. National Archives at College Park in Washington are organized as per the original system used by the Allied Military Government and are labeled with an Indicator, Sub-indicator and Serial Number. They are presented in numbered file folders, each one of which includes a series of plastic sleeves containing one or more documents. Each sleeve is labeled with the original reference number. These references can be used to determine the administrative region or province, administrative category, order of the various files, date of the original file (month and year), and the Box Number, a reference to the archiving system currently in place at the National Archives in College Park. All of the original file index data for Region V and its Provinces are preserved on microfilm; printouts of these microfilm documents are also available.
Documents from the National Archives in London are organized following the PRO (Public Record Office) system, and include the Department Code, Series Number and Piece Number. These are also grouped into numbered file folders, each of which includes a series of plastic sheets containing one or more documents.
Almost all of these Allied documents were discovered in the War Office files, though a few key documents were found in the Cabinet Office files. The Department Code is followed by the Series Number, which indicates the military branch to which the document pertained (e.g. War Diaries, Intelligence, and Military Operations) and then by the Piece Number, which includes the number assigned to the file folder. The PRO catalogues are also available online at
All of these documents are written in English and are brimming with military and administrative terminology of a technical nature. Consequently, please be aware that a strong understanding of English will be necessary in order to work effectively with the collection2.
The collection also includes photographs, footage, audio recordings and complete press records. To the greatest extent possible, all documents are labeled with a date, description and location.

The collection can be useful for research on the following:

  1. military operations in the Marche;
  2. day-to-day relationships between British officers and the units of the Eighth Army (especially with General Anders of the Polish Army);
  3. war diaries and narratives about the operations of the Eighth Army divisions and units deployed at times on the Marche front;
  4. weekly and monthly reports from the Regional Commissioner, the Governor of Region V of the Allied Military Government, Provincial Commissioners and Allied Governors in the four Marche provinces;
  5. weekly and monthly reports from regional and provincial officers deployed to carry out specific administrative tasks (food provisioning, civil engineering, public security, healthcare, protecting cultural heritage, etc.);
  6. initial reports from the leading officers in the Allied Military Government sent immediately after the liberation of each municipality, which was sometimes the only documented visit during the entire time period;
  7. correspondence between the Allied Governors and Prefects about specific disputes.

Main Indicators and Sub-indicators:


10500Region V (Marche-Umbria)
10502Province of Ascoli-Piceno
10503Province of Macerata
10505Province of Pesaro/Urbino
10508Province of Ancona


127Provincial files
128Provincial Commissioner
143Public Safety
145Monuments, Fine Arts & Archives
150Public Works & Utilities
154Economics and Supply
163Public Health/Welfare

1 For further information, please see the archives in the Prefettura (Prefecture) or Questura (Police Headquarters) of different regions or the archives of the National Liberation Committee.
2 A detailed English-Italian acronym glossary is available in: R. Absalom, Gli Alleati e la ricostruzione in Toscana (1944-45) Documenti anglo-americani, Vol. I (Florence, 1988) and Vol. II (Florence, 2001) and R. Absalom, Perugia liberata. Documenti anglo-americani 1944-45 (Florence, 2001).

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