The German military presence in Italy dates back to January 1941, with the Wehrmacht supporting the war in North Africa and the Mediterranean. The first direct confrontations with the Allies on Italian territory occurred after the landings in Sicily in July 1943.
However, it was after the armistice of September 1943 and the consequent German occupation that the war reached a new level of intensity: the Wehrmacht and the SS fought against the Allies, who were advancing from the south, against the Resistance and its partisan formations and against civilians, with a violence that sometimes took on the characteristics of a violent war of extermination.
Defensive structures were built, such as the Gustav Line and the Gothic Line, exploiting the natural features of the Italian territory. The main goal was to preserve the most important industrial areas and airports and so maintain communications with southern Germany.
According to reliable data, about one million German soldiers fought in Italy. About 2,000 deserted over the years, and some of them joined the Resistance. About 110,000 people died, 3,000 of them at the hands of the partisans; 107,000 were laid to rest in German war cemeteries in Italy. Throughout the conflict, between 500,000 and 600,000 German soldiers were taken prisoner.