Interview with Prof. Pio Filippani-Ronconi, volunteer in the Italian Waffen-SS, Northern Italy, 1994.

[Above: SS-Obersturmführer Pio Filippani Ronconi. He is wearing the collar tabs of the 1st battalion of the 29th Waffen-Grenadierdivision of the SS (italienische Nr. 1).]

Thanks for meeting with me Professor, I wanted to primarily ask you about your time in the Waffen-SS, so may I start by asking you what brought you to the SS?

Pio: Young man, that query could take a lifetime to answer, as it is very complicated to explain. Briefly, I joined because I believed in what Germany was fighting for, quite simply. I did not view them as an enemy, or occupier. It started when I worked with Germans in North Africa getting information to Arab allies. To explain, you see, Europe was faced with the question of which way should we go, left or right? This question plagued us since 1848, and was decided in 1945. My journey started very young, I was quite studious in learning history and culture. My family gave me life experiences that were priceless, yet sometimes rife with danger. An example was in Madrid during the Spanish Civil War, after what the communists did to my mother; I wanted to learn more about what plagues us, and what solutions there are.

I had met many Germans who spoke well of Hitler, and what National Socialism had brought to Germany and its people. Il Duce did the same for Italy, but fascism lacked the religious and racial component that National Socialism had. Therefore, what I am telling you is something I have not spoken of in many, many years. This fascinated me, and while I understood all of the tenants of fascism, National Socialism seemed more in tune with nature and the religions of the world. What I mean is National Socialism is a holy call to all peoples, religions, and servitudes. I taught in Iran, and there lies some of the decedents of the first Aryans, they still hear this call in their hearts. Some fought during the war for Germany. To get back on topic, I fought in the Granatieri di Sardegna for Il Duce and Italy. When weak-willed politicians staged a coup and worked with the Allies to get out of the war, I fled north. German contacts put me in touch with Himmler's men, who made me an officer in a new SS division. This was made from Italians who believed they had a duty to keep fighting. That is how I came to the German SS. I was made a Sturmführer and promoted to Obersturmführer.

So you fought for Italy first, then Germany?

Pio: Correct, in 1940 I was working as a translator for radio when war was declared. My duty was to my country and people so I volunteered and was sent right away to Libya where we had a rough time with the British, they had much better weapons and training. Our armies put up a fight, but Germany had to come in and save us at the worst time for them. It was an embarrassment to say the least. I started working as a translator when the Germans arrived for Operation Sunflower [the name given to the dispatch of German troops to North Africa in February 1941]. Many Arabs came to help us, as Britain was their enemy since the Balfour Declaration [statement issued by the British Government in 1917 during WWI announcing its support for the establishment of a "national home for the Jewish people" in Palestine]. I was put in a unit that worked with them to conduct operations behind the British lines, doing sabotage, espionage, and propaganda. This was very successful, and when the Grand Mufti met Hitler, we thought we had a breakthrough once a Fatwa [a formal ruling or interpretation on a point of Islamic law] had been issued.

The British were pros at this type of warfare, however, they executed hundreds of Arabs as spies, enacted strict laws to stop the Fatwa, and sent many to camps to prevent acts of sabotage. They used food and water to control large populations, and to get their obedience. Once Africa was lost I came home, but Italy was being taken over by communists who used anti-war sentiments to fool the people. Much like what happened to Germany in 1918. Italy had suffered deep losses and the threat of bombs destroying cities caused many to agree we needed out. Many others however saw this fight for what it was, a deeper fight between good and evil that had to have a final outcome. When the ceasefire was announced, I sought German allies for help, and advised I could bring over a great number of men from my regiment willing to fight.

What was your first action as an SS officer like?

Pio: It was on the Anzio front, after we had training. The Germans formed us into an Italian SS unit and sent us to train in Germany. After training, we were sent to Anzio/Nettuno to contain the Allied landings. This line was held from January to April and was a very bloody affair. The Allies won due to the air power they had, and this time they outnumbered us. By now, we had excellent weapons, but these could not dent the odds enough. Much of our supplies were destroyed due to air attacks, I remember that well. Luckily, the civilians would feed us when rations were slow to reach us. I remember being awestruck by the amount of material the Americans alone could field. When my battalion arrived at the front, we looked over our sector; I climbed up a hill and could see the vast armada they had. We brought up numerous artillery pieces to shell them, but the supply trucks had a hard time getting shells to them. As always, it was too few and too little for us.

I remember a feeling of disdain for the Allies, who shelled many of the old towns into rubble, killing countless civilians. We had tried to evacuate as many as would go, but this area was very densely populated. We mounted a good defense, and counter attacked the beach but were stopped by heavy shelling. Even the new Tiger tank lost its effectiveness in this type of fighting. I met my first American prisoners here as well; we smashed a determined attack and took many prisoners. I found them not very intellectual and unsure why they were fighting this war. However, we could at least agree on who the best-looking women were, and the enjoyment of the warm weather. It was on this front I was badly wounded and was sent to a hospital so I did not get to see the end of the battle. I was with many Italians wounded at both Anzio and Monte Cassino, it was here that I stated to doubt victory was now possible. That does not mean I did not think we should keep fighting, only that I knew we could not hope to overcome the odds without an intervention.

I had met a panzer man from a heavy battalion, he spoke about how good the new tiger was but even this tank could be knocked out, as there were very few of them, so the Allies could concentrate on them easily. He spoke of many new weapons coming so this gave a glimmer of hope. After healing, I was assigned as a translator for our commander and the German commander of our sector. I stayed in this role until war's end, translating orders and discussions between Italian and German. I met a few Hindu and Arabic soldiers and would speak with them to hone my language skills, we got along well. They were very fanatical and willingly died without a second thought about it, I admired this.

[Above: Italian Waffen-SS recruiting posters.]

Did you have to fight any partisans in your sector?

Pio: Yes, Italy was a litany of politics by now. You had a strong communist presence; they even brought in Soviet soldiers and escaped Soviet prisoners to help them. The average Italian wanted none of this, they were not fanatical to Il Duce, but certainly did not want communists running things. We had many volunteers come to us as the partisans would raid towns and set up provisional governments who sought to punish any fascists or allies of Germany. These bands put prices for any royals, fascists, or clergy who preached against them. We had to engage these criminals when they showed themselves. Other than this, they hid among the people as best they could. Our unit always received tips and warnings about where they were and who was leading them. One operation I remember was they kidnapped a child of a leader and threatened to kill them. They did this a lot, kidnapped for ransom, hoping for a big payday. Rumors had been that they fled to France, which was now under full Allied control. We still went from village to village looking for a trace, but found none.

It was nasty business having to fight these so-called freedom fighters; they were nothing more than criminals and cowards. When they were caught most screamed and cried for pity, however their crimes were hard to ignore. Many innocent Italians were caught in-between the fighting and could not escape. Our commander was furious during one attack on a partisan held village, the attack trapped and killed many partisans, but also a few hostages they held. It was impossible to avoid this, but we did try. Today, if you read the papers you would think we just went from town to town and hung or shot anyone who happened to catch our glare. This simply did not occur. We were Italians; we protected our people, and fought for them. We fought these communists in order to protect the people who they were terrorizing and threatening. Just like in Soviet Russia, they forced you to believe their way, and if not, they killed you. It was the same in Italy.

I always ask about war crimes, as you know Germany is accused of some horrendous crimes, especially in Italy. Did you see any examples of illegal killings or war crimes?

Pio: Savitri Devi said something I think is worth pondering: "A civilization that makes such a ridiculous fuss about alleged war crimes, or acts of violence against the enemies of one's cause, but tolerates slaughterhouses, animal testing, and the circus or the fur industry, does not deserve to live". I could add abortion to this quote as well. Nearly every day the world is reminded about alleged crimes committed under National Socialism, it is as if they are trying to distract you from seeing something. Ponder that for me if you will. I met Reichsführer-SS Himmler and spoke with many men from his staff. Never did I get the feeling that there was a sense of evil or bad karma. His defense of Dharma [the eternal and inherent nature of reality, regarded in Hinduism as a cosmic law underlying good behavior and social order] captivated me, and enlightened my soul. The Jewish problem that the media so self-righteously uses as a rod of correction, was simply removing problematic people to the east for resettlement. It was not even much of a secret.

The actions against partisans should only be seen as a fight against criminals, and nothing more. They robbed banks, assassinated those who disagreed with them, and used kidnapping and violence to get obedience. The very act of being a partisan is knowingly breaking the laws of war. Taking up arms while under occupation and not in uniform was a crime. My observations regarding the conduct of this type of war was that the civilians killed were either accidental, or as punishment. Accidental in the sense they were trapped in a battle zone and could not escape. Alternatively, they actively or passively supported the partisans by allowing weapons and equipment to be stored in homes and businesses.

The last group were threatened by force or kidnapping to help, and when caught it was hard to judge their intentions. Many of this group were shown mercy and used as spies to report on the partisans, some were punished as their act was blatant and deliberate. I give the Germans praise as they really tried to get people and valuable treasures out of battle areas, so they could be saved.

[Above: Italian Waffen-SS volunteers.]

Did the Germans ever treat you as second rate due to not being German?

Pio: I must admit that in the back of all volunteers' minds that was a concern. There have always been disagreements between European peoples as to who owns which land, and religious beliefs for example. This has led to wars being fought. Italy declared war on Germany in 1915 also, but German friendship was strong. As I mentioned, I had experience with Germans, and got along famously with each one. As you know I was captivated by religion and faith, the history of faith does not lie in Europe, and Himmler understood this well. One thing I admired about the Germans of this time was their open minds and willingness to explore possibilities. I met scholars from the Ahnenerbe [Ancestral Research] society who shared many of the interests I had, they never looked down on Italians. I give little attention to the notion the Germans were Pan-Germanic, and hated everyone else. Their actions regarding this cooperation reveal their true sentiments.

I eagerly read papers regarding the research carried out in India, China, and Persia that suggested Europeans were in these regions thousands of years ago and brought various forms of religion to the people, who adopted many aspects to this very day. Germany led this research and welcomed anyone from all over the world to contribute. This showed me that National Socialism was more Pan-European more than anything else, save for a few misguided authors, and I agreed. When I worked with the German army in Africa there was respect, when I joined to fight in the SS, there was respect. I never felt at any time I was looked down on because I was not German. In fact, the Germans were very thankful to have so many come to their side in this fight, when so many were aligned against them. I attended the wedding of a comrade, who married a royal from Austria, many SS men attended and we had a very nice time. The girls took our uniforms and tried them on, posing in flirtatious pictures, and we danced late into the night. We were welcomed into the homes of the townspeople without reservation. For me that showed the spirit of trust and friendship that was prevalent during National Socialism.

Did you ever meet Il Duce while you were in the Waffen-SS, and what do you think his feelings about Italians serving in the German armed forces were?

Pio: Yes, Il Duce had a very loyal following in North Italy, though as I mentioned many Italians were tired and fearful of war. He would come and inspect us, bring gifts and see us off. He was a well-liked leader but my opinion was generals who lacked the experience and will to win, handicapped him. He sought the ancient Roman spirit that by now had been bred out of many Italians. My family had supported him, and knew he held the will of the people but he made the mistake of using war as a means of politics, where I believe Hitler was forced to fight. There is a big difference in this, and Italy, like Germany, was not prepared for war.

That is something I did notice about Il Duce, he told us he was sorry to have sent us off so hastily, but he was led to believe the British were unwilling to fight. Their meddling in Italian affairs in Africa was seen as careless politics, which they would not fight over. He congratulated me upon winning the Iron Cross, and had wine sent when I was wounded, which was a kind gesture that I admired. No person is perfect, but I am proud to say I lived in the era of true leaders. Sadly, in today's political climate his own decendents cannot admire the man. If so they are shunned. As far as what he thought about us serving in the German armed forces, I think he understood they were the stronger ally. He was very grateful to Hitler for freeing him, and the German forces were in Italy to prevent the Allies from rolling up the south front. Although there are not many photos of him at the front, he visited often and I saw him treat the German soldiers as his own.

Do you harbor any anger towards the Allies or partisans?

Pio: Much evil came out of that war and I will not be convinced we were the ones doing it. Gandhi once said "I object to violence because when it appears to do well, the good is only temporary: the evil it does is permanent". The Allies won the war but lost, and have no idea. The cheering crowds who were led to believe in the righteous war are slowly seeing that a hidden hand used the war for their gradual destruction. This is slow and methodical; it has been going on for several thousand years. I cannot be angry at the warmongers; they are doing what they were bred to do. I have dedicated my life to enlightening people all over the world to see things that are not easily seen. The Germans had a poster that said "in the end stands victory", they did not probably understand this then, but in reality, we won. We just have not seen it yet, but everyone will see it. I promise you that. Just as there is a God of creation who is just and merciful, he will also shed light on the darkness so it can be seen and destroyed.

It is interesting to me to know that in non-European nations the grandiose tales of the good war are not believed, they see something most Europeans cannot. There is no admiration for the partisans or Allies, but there is reverence to all the men who served National Socialism, no matter from what nation they came from. I visited the sites in Libya after, and the old warriors bowed down in reverence for the fight they knew we brought to their oppressors. Come what stories our former enemies, and newfound enemies may tell, the truth will win in the end. You must have faith in that my friend. The evil that is in this world will not prevail and is on borrowed time. As I said they won what they call the second war, but there is a final war that will destroy them and their servants for all time. That is what we fought for.

[Above: Prof. Pio Filippani-Ronconi.]

[Above: Filippani-Ronconi was a prolific writer.]

[Above: Prof. Pio Filippani-Ronconi.]

[Above: Italian Waffen-SS collar tabs and sleeve patch.]

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