PhD – Raphael Rues

Military Activities of German and Italian Fascists unit during 1943-1945 in the regions of Ossola and lake Maggiore

PhD started in May 2018 due to be completed by November 2020
University of Leicester, Stanley Burton Centre for Holocaust and Genocide Studies

Supervisors: Dr Alex KorbDr Luca Fenoglio and Professor David Gentilcore

I have an overall interest in fields of modern history where interactions between economic, social, political and military aspects are involved. I am a part-time PhD student, working for the Swiss government and as the Risk Manager responsible for the Swiss National Roads network in Berne, Switzerland.

In my PhD project, I am studying the activities of German and Italian Fascist military units in Northern Italy during 1943-1945, specifically in the region of Ossola, situated between Simplon and Lake Maggiore.

Before arriving to the region, most of the German units fought on the Eastern front where they had been heavily involved in the genocide of Jews and massacres of Soviet citizens. My research aims to analyse the extent to which their deployment in anti-partisan warfare in Northern Italy was a matter of “Wein, Weib und Gesang” [“Wine, Women and Song”] for German troops, or rather a logistical extension of the war crimes and operations on the Eastern front.

The study will analyse the military, economic, social and political impact of the German and Italian Fascist presence in the region, focusing closely on specific round-up operations. This study will also explore the complex and multi-faceted partisan historical resources with the actual operational development of the Italian “civil war”. The analysis will use a multi-disciplinary perspective, and involve research in Italian and German.

Answering such questions will both help us to understand better the German and Fascist anti-partisan modus operandi in Western Europe during the period 1943-1945, the overall economic impact of these operations for the assessed region, as well as to quantify how much of the Partisans historical resources can be actually used to assess this specific type of operations.


Secret meeting in Ascona, Blog Swiss National Museum, Zürich (2020) online version English, German and French

Ticino during the Second World War, Blog Swiss National Museum, Zürich (2019) online version English, German and French

The birth and death of the Partisan Republic of Ossola, Blog Swiss National Museum, Zürich (2019) online version English, German and French

SS-Police in Ossola and Lago Maggiore. Operations and war crimes, Insubrica Historica, Minusio Switzerland (2018)

Breve storia del I battaglione Panzer-Grenadier Regiment 2 della divisione Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler prima e dopo gli eccidi di ebrei sul lago Maggiore, Nuova Resistenza Unita, Verbania (2018)

I disertori tedeschi nei documenti del controspionaggio svizzero, Mezzosecolo 11, Centro Studi Piero Gobetti , Istituto Storico della Resistenza in Piemonte, Torino (1997)