Italian groups are set to protest Wednesday at the premiere of Spike Lee's film "Miracle at St. Anna," which they say is full of lies and insults the memory of the Italian Resistance during the Second World War.
The film, already released in the United States, will debut in Italy on Friday. But it is being shown first at Viareggio on the Tuscan coast, close to the village of Sant' Anna di Stazzema in the Apennine hills above, where 560 civilians — including women and children — were murdered in August 1944 by Nazi SS troops as they retreated northward in the face of the Allied advance.
"Miracle at St. Anna," which highlights the role of African-American soldiers in the war, suggests that anti-fascist partisans indirectly caused the atrocity by first taking refuge in the village and then abandoning the villagers to their fate.
It also shows a partisan named Rodolfo collaborating with the Nazis. This runs directly counter to the accepted Italian version of events, which is that the slaughter was not a reprisal but an unprovoked act of brutality and that the hunt for partisans was a pretext.
It also questions one of the founding myths of Italy's postwar democracy, which holds that the help the partisans gave to the Allies regained Italy the honor it had lost under Benito Mussolini, the fascist dictator, by allying itself with Hitler and Nazi Germany.
At a press screening in Rome, Lee said: “I am not apologizing for anything." He told Italians that there was clearly "a lot about your history you have yet to come to grips with ... This film is our interpretation, and I stand behind it.”