‘Neither Defeat nor Surrender’: Italy’s Change of Alliances in 1943

John Gooch

in How Fighting Ends

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199693627
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741258 | DOI:
‘Neither Defeat nor Surrender’: Italy’s Change of Alliances in 1943

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In 1943, with the war demonstrably turning against Italy, her political and military leaders faced three unpalatable alternatives: a bloody and destructive military defeat, the spectre of bolshevism, or subordination to Germany and enslavement. In an attempt to avoid all three scenarios, conservative soldiers and politicians sought to change sides and enter into a collaborative partnership with the Allies. In seeking a way out of the cul-de-sac into which they had followed Mussolini, their cardinal motive was one of domestic politics :to preserve the crown and the system of parliamentary monarchy created in 1861, and to avoid a democratic constitutional referendumat all costs. Mussolini fell on 25 July 1943 and for the next forty-three days a self-serving administration led by Marshal Badoglio tried to negotiate secretly while preserving the fiction that Italy was still loyal to the Axis. Cynical and secretive, Badoglio kept his manoeuvres hidden even from senior military officials. When his hand was forced by Eisenhower's announcement of the armistice terms, he and the king fled Rome, leaving the population and Italian forces in Greece and the Balkans at the mercy of the Germans.John Gooch shows thepowergames in the Italian leadership as an example of how a state tried to get out of a catastrophic defeat.

Keywords: Mussolini; Badoglio; Vittorio Emanuele III; fascism; Axis Powers

Chapter.  9076 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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