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Mario Roatta: Generale d’armata

by Valdis Kursietis

The following information provides a snapshot of the career of Generale d’armata Mario Roatta.

Generale d’armata Mario Roatta.

Generale d’armata Mario Roatta.

Born: 2 February 1887 in Modena

Died: 7 January 1968 in Rome


Sottotenente: 14 September 1906
Tenente: 14 September 1909
Capitano: 16 August 1914
Maggiore: 4 January 1917
Tenente colonnello: 7 October 1917
Colonnello: 5 December 1926
Generale di brigata: 1 January 1935
Generale di divisione: 11 February 1937
Generale di corpo d’armata: 19 July 1939
Generale designato d’armata: 18 February 1942
Generale d’armata: 1 July 1943


16 January 1934 – 1 January 1935: Head of the Military Information Service
1 January 1935 – 1 July 1939: assigned to Ministry of War for Special Duties
7 December 1936 – 16 February 1937: Commander of Italian forces in Spain
16 February 1937 – 7 April 1937: General Officer Commanding, Corpo di Truppe Volontarie, Spain
7 April 1937 – 1 December 1938: General Officer Commanding, Division, Spain
1 July 1939 – 15 November 1939: Military Attaché to Berlin
16 November 1939 – 24 March 1941: Deputy Chief of the Army General Staff
27 June 1940 – 24 March 1941: concurrently Acting Chief of the Army General Staff
24 March 1941 – 20 January 1942: Chief of the Army General Staff
20 January 1942 – 5 February 1943: Commander-in-Chief, 2nd Army and General Officer Commanding, General
************************: Headquarters Slovenia-Dalmatia
5 February 1943 – 24 May 1943: Commander-in-Chief, 6th Army
1 June 1943 – 18 November 1943: Chief of the Army General Staff

Awards & Decorations

Cavaliere dell‘Ordine Militare di Savoia: 16 June 1939
Grande Ufficiale dell’Ordine della Corona d’Italia: 16 September 1936
Commendatore dell’Ordine dei SS. Maurizio e Lazzaro: 15 January 1940
Commendatore dell’Ordine della Corona d’Italia: 21 January 1935
Ufficiale dell’Ordine dei SS. Maurizio e Lazzaro: 14 January 1938
Ufficiale dell’Ordine Coloniale della Stella d‘Italia: 16 July 1936
Order of the Three Stars, III Class (Latvia): 15 December 1930
Medalla militar (Spain): 1939
Iron Cross (Germany): January 1942

Additional Notes

Mario Roatta graduated from the Military Academy of Modena on 14 September 1906. In the autumn of 1944, the Commission of Inquiry investigated Roatta for the failed defense of Rome and for actions whilst head of the SIM. The High Commission ordered his arrest on 16 November 1944. On January 22, 1945, the trial of Roatta and 14 other defendants opened in Rome at the High Court of Justice. On the evening of 4 March 1945, Roatta fled from the military hospital at the Liceo Virgilio, where he had been hospitalized for heart problems. This escape may be due to the complicity of the British secret service and of General Taddeo Orlando, commanding general of the Carabinieri.

General Mario Roatta.

General Mario Roatta.

He first reached the Vatican and then to Spain with his wife. The government of Francisco Franco then provided him protection. On 12 March 1945, the High Court condemned Roatta to life imprisonment in absentia. On the same day, they stripped him of his military rank. In September the Minister of War asked the Military Attorney General to proceed against the fugitive Roatta for “culpable surrender” as “the main culprit” of the “moral and material disaster” which occurred on 8 September 1943.

Roatta also remained under the scrutiny of the Yugoslav authorities who demanded his extradition. The authorities in Rome were opposed, claiming their right to judge alleged war criminals in Italian courts.

To this end, a commission of inquiry was set up in May 1946 at the Ministry of War to examine the behavior of the suspects. On 6 March 1948, the Court of Appeal quashed the High Court ruling: Roatta thus regained his freedom and his rank. On 19 February 1949, the Military Court of Rome then established “not having to proceed” also for the accusations against him of “negligent surrender” and “abandonment of command” after 8 September because “the facts are not provided for by law as crimes”. Roatta returned from Spain in 1966 and died in Rome 2 years later.

Bollettino ufficiale delle nomine, promozioni e destinazioni negli ufficiali e sottufficiali del R. esercito italiano
e nel personale dell’amministrazione militare
Annuario militare del Regno d’Italia
La Stampa

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