PDA

View Full Version : With Mussolini as political leader, and not Hitler, Axis could win the war.



DVX
03-11-2015, 03:45 PM
Lastly, a bit of historical truth... over the usual clichè. Hitler was the true "tragic buffoon" of the Axis...
This interesting article is just as summary on the matter, that has been generally most explored in some Italian historiography.

Dr James Sadkovich,
European History, University of Wisconsin.
‘German Military Incompetence Through Italian Eyes’
War In History 1994 1: 39
Commentary

In this insightful article, ‘German military incompetence through Italian eyes’, Dr James Sadkovich has given us a long overdue reevaluation of the relationship between the Italian-German alliance. He begins with a quote from Gaetano Salvemini who in 1969 believed Anglo-Saxon racism less severe than German racism owing to “Anglo-American priggishness”. But in the final analysis, the two types of racism – German and British – have over the years succeeded in bouncing off and validating each other with centrifugal acceleration to the extent that so-called “Italian military incompetence” has become an inseparable corollary of perceived German “efficiency”. Even supposedly more balanced Anglo-Saxon writers like MacGregor Knox still maintain this binary view of the Italian military as the mirror-opposite of the German. They seem incapable of analyzing the Italian military effort in its own terms. As an exasperated Guiseppe Mancinelli, a liason officer between the Italian and German armored forces in Africa declared, “The perception of Italian inferiority inevitably was applied to every unfavorable and unfortunate episode from which the Germans were certainly not immune… and the responsibility of failure was thus assigned solely to the Italians.” Interestingly, he accuses the Germans of being easily discouraged, refusing to confront the British whom they saw as formidable racial cousins but instead foolishly attacked the Russians, whom they perceived as genetically and culturally inferior. Arrogant and blinded by their ideologically racist beliefs, their refusal to take Italy as a serious ally made defeat in the Mediterranean inevitable while “their inability to assess their enemies accurately led them to botch the diplomatic preparation and military planning for every major operation they studied, from Sealion to Barbarossa.”
Diplomatic Incompetence
In the Spring of 1943, Vittorio Ambrosio compiled a list of German deficiencies. It was a long list which included their failure to invade Britain in 1940; their botched effort to bring Spain into the war and seal off the Mediterranean by taking Gibraltar; denying Italy the use of Tunisian ports in 1941-42; postponing the invasion of Malta until it was too late; foolishly attacking the Soviet Union in 1941 and resisting Italian attempts to obtain a separate peace; woefully inadequate intelligence and finally, for provoking war in 1939 despite Hitler’s promises and Italian warnings not to do so before 1942. Moreover, from 1940 to 1943, the Italians were constantly repeating to the Germans after each of their fiascoes a belated “I told you so”. In fact it was Mussolini who had a better grasp of the international environment than Hitler, whose strategic view of the world was parochial and provincially Austrian.
Germany’s invasion of Poland in 1939 left a bitter taste in the mouths of Mussolini and Ciano, who realized early on that here was a ally they couldn’t trust. Ciano considered the Germans “arrogant and reckless” scoundrels. It was Mussolini who displayed a keener understanding of the British than the generally clueless Germans. For example, while they were at a loss to explain British reactions, the Italians correctly predicted British reactions in the Mediterranean. The Italian diplomatic corps considered the Germans amateurish newcomers, dumb Teutons wrecking havoc wherever they went. The Italian ambassador in Berlin, Bernardo Attolico was generally disgusted by their “absolute lack of any moral sense”.
It was the Italians that warned Hitler that an attack through Belgium would alienate the US. But as usual, their advice fell on deaf ears. German deficit in common sense was also revealed when they gladly sold weapons and machinery to Yugoslavia instead of to their real ally, Italy. Nor could the Germans admit that their attack on Poland was a tragic mistake that was to have severe repercussions.
The Germans consistently broke promises to their Italian ally, made worse by their interference and overweening nature in Italian affairs and spheres of influence, particularly in the Balkans.
Strategic incompetence.
Rather than cooperate activity and energetically with their Axis partner, the Italians found the Germans to be mentally sluggish and perfidious. As Attolico and other Italian diplomats got to know the Germans better, they found them to be without wit or charm, moderately intelligent, boastful and arrogant. They considered Ribbentrop a fool.
The Germans delayed their promised material support to Italy, finding one excuse after another, while at the same time, demanding workers and raw materials from their poorer ally. The Italian diplomat Lanza noted that while the Germans might blindly obey the Nazis, they actually despised them as “petty individuals, vulgar, ignorant, greedy and immoral”. While Hitler dithered in the Fall of 1940, the Italians were busy expelling the British out of Somaliland and invaded Egypt. The failure of nerve displayed by the Germans in dealing with Britain added to Italy’s woes. Rather than invade Britain and knock it out of the war quickly, the foolhardy Germans decided to invade the USSR instead! The inanity of the Germans was, for the Italians, beyond belief! As Sadkovich caustically observed: “In the end, the Italians wasted three months waiting for Operation Sealion, whose cancellation allowed Britain to rebound, gave France hope, and caused other states either to gravitate to the British orbit or, like Spain, to remain neutral.” By September 1940, even the German public were demoralized by the war and by British raids on their cities.
Had the Germans lent the Italians adequate material support; had they attempted seriously to plan with the Italian general staff, or had they risked an action across the English Channel in 1940, the war could have taken a very different turn. Even a German failure would have disrupted Britain’s buildup in the Mediterranean, and a partial success might have led to a negotiated peace. Instead, mixed signals from Hitler and Ribbentrop, Germany’s invasion of its ally’s sphere of influence, and Berlin’s indifference to Italian requests for raw materials and weaponry at a time when the German army was idle, triggered an Italian attack on Greece and distracted Rome’s attention from Africa just as Germany’s failure to invade Britain allowed London to reinforce Egypt.
In short, Sadkovich rightly points out that it was German timidity that botched the Axis war effort in 1940; German arrogance that led to the invasion of Russia before dealing adequately with Britain; and German duplicity that kept the Italians in the dark and generated suspicion. The German reassurance that the war would soon be over, that Britain was finished and they had won, made them look foolish in the eyes of their supposedly “valued” allies, the Italians.
The Italians were no fools. They had a better grasp of the strategic and diplomatic realities than the Germans. They looked upon their “Teutonic ally” and their antics with growing horror and nervousness. But by September 1940, it was too late for the Italians to get out of the alliance with their unreliable and erratic ally. All the Italians could do was to grit their teeth and hope for the best. But the best never came. Rather than improve, their German allies became worse as the war progressed.
By mid-July 1941, the wife of at least one German diplomat in Rome was referring to Hitler as that ’idiot’. As with the Italians underestimating Greek determination and fierce resistance in their invasion of Greece, likewise the Germans woefully underestimated the Russians. But rather than admit their mistake, the Germans had no choice but to persevere. As one Italian diplomat said of Hitler’s headquarters in late August 1941, “Reality ceases and a detached and isolated world begins here.” Ribbentrop and Dietrich were continually announcing the defeat of the Soviet Union in a matter of weeks. Such pronouncements were considered absurd by Italian generals, while Ciano ridiculed the Germans for singing their “hymn of victory too soon”.
As Sadkovich noted, “a disastrous situation in the east was particularly embarrassing to Berlin because as racially inferior Russian troops routed German armies outside Moscow, well-disciplined Italian forces stymied a superior British opponent in Africa where Auchinleck’s offensive only barely succeeded” thanks to Rommel’s recklessness and Hitler’s veto of Rome’s request to ship supplies through Tunisian ports.

DVX
03-11-2015, 03:46 PM
By Christmas of 1941 and with the invasion of Russia stalled and looking more and more the fiasco it really was, Lanza and others began to see Hitler as a “nut and fantastic dilettante” while Otto von Bismarck in Rome remarked casually to Anfuso that Hitler was a “blundering ***”. To the great amusement of both Mussolini and Ciano, the Germans overnight became “almost cordial” as they invented excuses for their failures. A more contrite Hitler asked Mussolini (as well as the Hungarians and Romanians) for more Italian divisions to bolster the Russian front. Both the Hungarians and Romanians balked at his request, but the genial Mussolini took pity on the Germans and obliged while dismissing him as that “big jack-***”. Ciano underlined how ridiculous the Germans were becoming by February 1942 when he noted that every time the Germans issued a communiqué that things were going well on the Russian front, they get a thrashing. And by the Spring of 42, Pavolini found the Germans depressed, the Nazi regime in crisis and jokes about Hitler’s incompetence circulating in Berlin. By now, there were those in the Italian leadership who were urging Mussolini to find a way out of the war and free Italy from its duplicitous and incompetent ally. Even the Japanese were having doubts about their supposedly “valiant” German allies. Ciano wryly noted that whenever things were going badly for the Germans, the normally overbearing Germans became more cordial and courteous!
By the summer of 1942, most Italians were heartedly sick of their German “allies”. In October, Mussolini bitterly complained to his son-in-law that “if we lose this war, it will be because of the political stupidity of the Germans.” Luccioli, who accompanied Lanza, Alfieri, and Ciano to Hitler’s eastern lair, also despaired of the Germans, noting that “one could not discuss art and literature with the Nazis, and to discuss ’politics with Hitler and his men was like playing the violin in front of a rabid dog”.
And the more the Germans failed, the more they blamed their Italian allies. Both in Russia and North Africa the Germans had a habit of deploying Italians in front-line positions whilst making their escape in Italian vehicles at the rear!
While Mussolini and the Italians pressed for a separate peace, the incompetent and ideologically blinded Germans continued to pursue their dreams of world conquest as their “Aryan birthright”, even when it became clear to all, they were incapable of winning. According to Sadkovich, it was Hitler rather than Mussolini who was the inept dilettante, who failed to grasp that war was as much a political as a military activity. Thus it was Hitler who was the “tragic buffoon”, not Mussolini. Whatever errors the Italians made, the Germans made just as many, but being the dominant power, the repercussions of their blunders were much more severe than any the Italians could have made.
The reality was that it was the Germans who were the bad allies of the Italians, and not the other way around. If they had listened to the more experienced Italians, especially in the political and diplomatic spheres in which Italian diplomats far excelled their German counterparts, then the Germans may not have made as many fatal mistakes and dragged Italy down with it.

Annales

10th August, 2014

leccy
03-11-2015, 06:21 PM
A few query's about this


Lastly, a bit of historical truth... over the usual clichè. Hitler was the true "tragic buffoon" of the Axis...
This interesting article is just as summary on the matter, that has been generally most explored in some Italian historiography.

Dr James Sadkovich,
European History, University of Wisconsin.
‘German Military Incompetence Through Italian Eyes’
War In History 1994 1: 39
Commentary

In this insightful article, ‘German military incompetence through Italian eyes’, Dr James Sadkovich has given us a long overdue reevaluation of the relationship between the Italian-German alliance. He begins with a quote from Gaetano Salvemini who in 1969 believed Anglo-Saxon racism less severe than German racism owing to “Anglo-American priggishness”. But in the final analysis, the two types of racism – German and British – have over the years succeeded in bouncing off and validating each other with centrifugal acceleration to the extent that so-called “Italian military incompetence” has become an inseparable corollary of perceived German “efficiency”. Even supposedly more balanced Anglo-Saxon writers like MacGregor Knox still maintain this binary view of the Italian military as the mirror-opposite of the German. They seem incapable of analyzing the Italian military effort in its own terms. As an exasperated Guiseppe Mancinelli, a liason officer between the Italian and German armored forces in Africa declared, “The perception of Italian inferiority inevitably was applied to every unfavorable and unfortunate episode from which the Germans were certainly not immune… and the responsibility of failure was thus assigned solely to the Italians.” Interestingly, he accuses the Germans of being easily discouraged, refusing to confront the British whom they saw as formidable racial cousins but instead foolishly attacked the Russians, whom they perceived as genetically and culturally inferior. Arrogant and blinded by their ideologically racist beliefs, their refusal to take Italy as a serious ally made defeat in the Mediterranean inevitable while “their inability to assess their enemies accurately led them to botch the diplomatic preparation and military planning for every major operation they studied, from Sealion to Barbarossa.”
Diplomatic Incompetence

Italy and Germany combined could not have succeeded with operation Sealion, they did not have the material, equipment, skills, experience to launch a sea borne invasion - Even with the Regia Aeronautica's aid in the battle of Britain they never succeeded in even beating the RAF alone

Germany watched the Italian forces invade France (and get beaten) after the German forces had defeated the Dutch and Belgian forces, seriously weakend the French and British forces where most of the best units had already been lost, Italy then attacked the small and poorly equipped British Forces in Egypt and stop fortify themselves and then get beaten - chased all the way across Libya, then the Italians invade greece and get beaten again - does it really surprise people that they were not considered a main axis force - even in East Africa they heavily outnumbered the British Commonwealth forces and initially at least were much better equipped

In the Spring of 1943, Vittorio Ambrosio compiled a list of German deficiencies. It was a long list which included their failure to invade Britain in 1940;

No capability to do so

their botched effort to bring Spain into the war and seal off the Mediterranean by taking Gibraltar;

Spain was weary after the civil war, Franco played the Axis and Allies off against each other demanding material which the Germans could not provide - the allies could supply Spain (as they did Turkey) which helped keep them out of the war - Why did Italy not convince Spain?

denying Italy the use of Tunisian ports in 1941-42;

Tunisia was under the control of Vichy France not Germany in 1941/42 - they had not the forces to spare to occupy them for the Italians

postponing the invasion of Malta until it was too late; foolishly attacking the Soviet Union in 1941

This was the main aim of the whole war, all other parts were ultimately to gain the position to invade - the US was not actively in the war, the British Commonwealth and sponsored forces were not capable of invading the European mainland, after the Soviet performance in Finland much of the world thought they would last no longer than France and the Low Countries or Poland

Italy could of course have invaded Malta itself - The Germans having suffered huge losses in Holland and Crete amongst their airborne forces and transport aircraft were reluctant to do it again so meaning a seaborne invasion would be needed - lack of suitable equipment and experience again

and resisting Italian attempts to obtain a separate peace;

Hitler wanted peace - as complete victor - not admit defeat against 'lesser people'

woefully inadequate intelligence and finally, for provoking war in 1939 despite Hitler’s promises and Italian warnings not to do so before 1942.

Germany's economic situation would not let them wait, the German plans supposedly called for a war in 1942 - all nations around Germany were rearming - waiting longer just gave them more time to replace the largely obsolete vehicles and aircraft

Moreover, from 1940 to 1943, the Italians were constantly repeating to the Germans after each of their fiascoes a belated “I told you so”. In fact it was Mussolini who had a better grasp of the international environment than Hitler, whose strategic view of the world was parochial and provincially Austrian.
Germany’s invasion of Poland in 1939 left a bitter taste in the mouths of Mussolini and Ciano, who realized early on that here was a ally they couldn’t trust.

Join the rest of the world - oh but then most already did not trust him after Czechoslovakia(

Ciano considered the Germans “arrogant and reckless” scoundrels. It was Mussolini who displayed a keener understanding of the British than the generally clueless Germans. For example, while they were at a loss to explain British reactions, the Italians correctly predicted British reactions in the Mediterranean.

Britain tried to get Italy onto its side or at least to remain neutral - yet Italy chose to join Germany when it looked like Germany would conquer all - Italy fought on the Allied side in WW1 coming out gaining territory despite having a treaty with Germany - it did not have to join in in either war.

The Italian diplomatic corps considered the Germans amateurish newcomers, dumb Teutons wrecking havoc wherever they went. The Italian ambassador in Berlin, Bernardo Attolico was generally disgusted by their “absolute lack of any moral sense”.
It was the Italians that warned Hitler that an attack through Belgium would alienate the US. But as usual, their advice fell on deaf ears. German deficit in common sense was also revealed when they gladly sold weapons and machinery to Yugoslavia instead of to their real ally, Italy. Nor could the Germans admit that their attack on Poland was a tragic mistake that was to have severe repercussions.

So why did Mussolini throw in his lot with the Germans in 1940 attacking France just before France fell if the Italians said it was all the wrong decisions, why not stay neutral, why declare war on Britain at the same time if they knew what would happen

Germany had to attack Poland - its ultimate goal was to conquer the Soviet Union, Poland was in the way - many of Hitler's pre war speeches made that clear

leccy
03-11-2015, 06:21 PM
The Germans consistently broke promises to their Italian ally, made worse by their interference and overweening nature in Italian affairs and spheres of influence, particularly in the Balkans.

Interfere in Italian affairs and sphere of influence in the Balkans ??? The Italian forces failed to take Greece - German Forces were required, Yugoslavia was a joint German/Italian/Hungarian affair - how do those make it an Italian sphere

Strategic incompetence.
Rather than cooperate activity and energetically with their Axis partner, the Italians found the Germans to be mentally sluggish and perfidious. As Attolico and other Italian diplomats got to know the Germans better, they found them to be without wit or charm, moderately intelligent, boastful and arrogant. They considered Ribbentrop a fool.

Seems to be a mutual feeling though

The Germans delayed their promised material support to Italy, finding one excuse after another, while at the same time, demanding workers and raw materials from their poorer ally. The Italian diplomat Lanza noted that while the Germans might blindly obey the Nazis, they actually despised them as “petty individuals, vulgar, ignorant, greedy and immoral”. While Hitler dithered in the Fall of 1940, the Italians were busy expelling the British out of Somaliland and invaded Egypt.

Fall of 1940 the full weight of the Luftwaffe was attacking Britain while plans were being made and equipment designed to launch a cross channel invasion - which ultimately they found they had not got the ability to do - so halted and prepared for a quick invasion of the Soviet union - the ultimate goal.

German Forces had just fought a hard campaign losing men and material, these needed to be replaced, a major reorganisation of the Divisions was done after lessons learnt, the occupation of France, Belgium and Holland was being sorted out - not quite doing nothing (part of the army was also demobilised to help with the harvest as Germany was already suffering from the call up of manpower and horses).

The Italian Forces in East Africa and Libya far outnumbered the British Commonwealth forces and had better equipment or at least comparable (apart from the late arrivals of a few Matilda Senior tanks), Naval forces were not far off being equal as well when all types are considered. Plus Italy had much m0re direct supply lines to their fronts than the British Commonwealth forces. In both cases they lost out ultimately to smaller British Commonwealth forces (only managing to intrude 50 miles into Egypt before halting and digging in)

The failure of nerve displayed by the Germans in dealing with Britain added to Italy’s woes. Rather than invade Britain and knock it out of the war quickly, the foolhardy Germans decided to invade the USSR instead! The inanity of the Germans was, for the Italians, beyond belief! As Sadkovich caustically observed: “In the end, the Italians wasted three months waiting for Operation Sealion, whose cancellation allowed Britain to rebound, gave France hope, and caused other states either to gravitate to the British orbit or, like Spain, to remain neutral.” By September 1940, even the German public were demoralized by the war and by British raids on their cities.

Again why did Italy join in the war it could have stayed Neutral the same as Spain - Germany had no capability even with the full might of the Italian forces of invading Britain - even cutting the sealanes proved impossible for the German and Italian navys


Had the Germans lent the Italians adequate material support;

The Italians joined the war when it was not ready and did not have a real industrial base to support its forces, to blame Germany (which although it was richer - it could not provide for its own forces even with production from the occupied countries) which was itself ill prepared for a long war is a bit wrong


had they attempted seriously to plan with the Italian general staff, or had they risked an action across the English Channel in 1940, the war could have taken a very different turn. Even a German failure would have disrupted Britain’s buildup in the Mediterranean, and a partial success might have led to a negotiated peace. Instead, mixed signals from Hitler and Ribbentrop, Germany’s invasion of its ally’s sphere of influence, and Berlin’s indifference to Italian requests for raw materials and weaponry at a time when the German army was idle, triggered an Italian attack on Greece and distracted Rome’s attention from Africa just as Germany’s failure to invade Britain allowed London to reinforce Egypt.

The Germans could not provide enough equipment for their own forces - even with the manufacturing capacity of the occupied countries it never managed to produce what it needed for its own forces, it sold obsolete equipment to other axis nations at marked up prices and limited amounts of current equipment (but that deprived its own forces)

Italy invaded Greece - why? it was already fighting the British Commonwealth - Graziani invaded Egypt and dug in after 50 miles claiming he needed more men and material - so Italy invades Greece instead of supplying its forces in North Africa and gets a bloody nose, British Commonwealth Forces (which were not reinforced to any real degree) then do a limited attack which proves so successful the Italian forces are chased across Libya demanding German help.

In short, Sadkovich rightly points out that it was German timidity that botched the Axis war effort in 1940; German arrogance that led to the invasion of Russia before dealing adequately with Britain; and German duplicity that kept the Italians in the dark and generated suspicion. The German reassurance that the war would soon be over, that Britain was finished and they had won, made them look foolish in the eyes of their supposedly “valued” allies, the Italians.
The Italians were no fools. They had a better grasp of the strategic and diplomatic realities than the Germans. They looked upon their “Teutonic ally” and their antics with growing horror and nervousness. But by September 1940, it was too late for the Italians to get out of the alliance with their unreliable and erratic ally.

Hindsight - they should not have jumped in to gain some of the spoils and glory

All the Italians could do was to grit their teeth and hope for the best. But the best never came. Rather than improve, their German allies became worse as the war progressed.
By mid-July 1941, the wife of at least one German diplomat in Rome was referring to Hitler as that ’idiot’. Not uncommonAs with the Italians underestimating Greek determination and fierce resistance in their invasion of Greece, likewise the Germans woefully underestimated the Russians.

The Soviet forces did not get a very good reputation against the Finnish forces who were very poorly equipped and outnumbered - France had what was widely thought to be the most powerful army in Europe - Germany defeated it in 6 weeks - the world thought the Soviet union would not last long against the might of the German War machine - couple it with Romania, Italy, Hungary, Finland, Slovakia all attacking the Soviets as well

But rather than admit their mistake, the Germans had no choice but to persevere. As one Italian diplomat said of Hitler’s headquarters in late August 1941, “Reality ceases and a detached and isolated world begins here.” Ribbentrop and Dietrich were continually announcing the defeat of the Soviet Union in a matter of weeks. Such pronouncements were considered absurd by Italian generals, while Ciano ridiculed the Germans for singing their “hymn of victory too soon”.

Yet Italy invaded France to claim some of the spoils after Germany had pretty much defeated it (although the French beat the Italians), Italy did not have to join in against the Soviet union - it chose to, Italy did not have to declare war on Britain and attack in East Africa and Egypt - it did so because it thought Britain would surrender - never got that bit right did they.

As Sadkovich noted, “a disastrous situation in the east was particularly embarrassing to Berlin because as racially inferior Russian troops routed German armies outside Moscow, well-disciplined Italian forces stymied a superior British opponent in Africa where Auchinleck’s offensive only barely succeeded” thanks to Rommel’s recklessness and Hitler’s veto of Rome’s request to ship supplies through Tunisian ports.


Over extended supply lines and bad weather coupled with huge losses stopped the Germans outside Moscow - the Italian failure when they invaded Greece is often cited as a reason as well - "Barbarossa was delayed because German troops had to save the Italians, this meant they never reached Moscow before the weather turned to far" Blame can work both ways

When Auchinleck took over German Forces were in North Africa - the Superior Italian Forces had collapsed against the weak British Forces earlier. Tunisia was not under German Control it belonged to Vichy France - The Italians had their own ports in Libya - landing supplies in Tunisia would have just meant that those supplies have even further to travel (which eats up more of them so diminishing what can arrive at the front).


Basically we so far have Italians blaming the Germans for them getting involved in the war (hmmm choices and consequences) and for them losing against the British Commonwealth and Greeks until the Germans joined in. Then for interfering in their spheres of influence which were gained with German blood and failing to provide the Italians with material (which Germany was short of itself).

JR*
03-13-2015, 07:21 AM
Interesting exchange. A few comments. Both Hitler and Mussolini were opportunists, not particularly good at strategy. Both were drawn to war, in large part, owing to the momentum of events. Neither were remotely ready to engage in a general European war in 1939/'40 but ... well, there was a momentum of events that drew them into the abyss. Whether either would have been ready for war by 1942 is doubtful, but just possible. However, it is notable that even Germany was already substantially reliant on looted Polish, Dutch, Belgian, Czech and French materiel in order to assemble a substantial attack on the Soviet Union in 1941. Even then, Germany's failure to move to a full war economy from 1939 (for political reasons) meant that they failed to make the best of the "looting" bonus.

Regarding Franco - I doubt whether anything, short of a huge, huge resources bribe, would have persuaded the Claudillo to declare war on Britain, not least because (as a real strategist) he would have been acutely conscious of the possibility that the US might be drawn into the war in Europe. Franco was also acutely conscious of the fact that his country had been torn to shreds by the recent Civil War (instigated by a reactionary Army clique including himself). Even without this, Spain was, to a very large extent, an industrially backward country, incapable of withstanding the strains of participation in a major external war. While he did have some valuable strategic cards to play (the apparent ability to close the Med to Allied shipping by taking Gibraltar being the most obvious example), Franco would only even have considered playing such a card in response to a bribe the Germans and Italians were simply incapable of paying; and Franco was the last man to take delivery of such a promise on trust, anyway. He may have owed a debt of gratitude to Germany and Italy for their assistance in the Civil War; but politics and strategy were practical matters, and Franco was a practical politician and strategist, as he proved over a long period of rule.

Interesting thread. I may have more comments. Best regards, JR.

Frankly Dude Really
03-13-2015, 08:12 AM
bickering with hindsight. Sjjjheeesh..

Best example of which : "By mid-July 1941, the wife of at least one German diplomat in Rome was referring to Hitler as that ’idiot’.".
Mind you: mid 19 and forty and one ! not in Berlin but in Rome, no less!

and all that to prove (!) the conclusion (?) "The Italians were no fools. They had a better grasp of the strategic and diplomatic realities than the Germans."

Somehow a lot of the bickering in above text is so symptomatic of Italian character (of even today).
Woah!




Apart from supporting the claim that Italians didnot do so bad as portrayed in german and allied reports after the war (many examples of letting the Italians do "the dirty front" work while the german flying aces/elite troops were kept in reserve all the time or escaped confrontations), I like to add that it was Mussolini who proposed to attack/punish Stalin with help of Germany and other european nations, after Stalin attacked Finland in 39/40 How much sooner is that than 1942 ?
)edited text order)

Also, with regards to Malta invasion; Italy had enough paratroopers for the job at the time when Malta was poorly defended. Enough (old slow flying) bombers/transporters and shipping to make it a succesful invasion (in 1940).
Why didn't they? Of course , more germans involved is more dominance, but if the germans were obligated elsewhere or reluctant otherwise , the italians (realising that the longer waiting = better Malta defenses) could have done the job themselves with a fraction of troops involved in Albania and Greece.


And what about the decision to attack France in the south ? What genius Italian diplomatic mastermind was behind that according to the writer of the paper ?

DVX
03-15-2015, 05:19 PM
bickering with hindsight. Sjjjheeesh..



and all that to prove (!) the conclusion (?) "The Italians were no fools. They had a better grasp of the strategic and diplomatic realities than the Germans."

Somehow a lot of the bickering in above text is so symptomatic of Italian character (of even today).
Woah!

I think you're misunderstanding the meaning of what prof. Sandkovitch wanted to say. The summary is that Italian diplomacy even with its all errors was more realistic and foreseeing than the Nazi German one. The example of the diplomat's wife just means that in the old leading traditional German class Hitler and his policies were less estimated than one usually can imagine. It's not a new. And this bad valuation went increasing as the 20th july 1944 bombing shew.... but the 20th july conspiration had more ancient origins in the upper military and political leading German class.





Also, with regards to Malta invasion; Italy had enough paratroopers for the job at the time when Malta was poorly defended. Enough (old slow flying) bombers/transporters and shipping to make it a succesful invasion (in 1940).
Why didn't they? Of course , more germans involved is more dominance, but if the germans were obligated elsewhere or reluctant otherwise , the italians (realising that the longer waiting = better Malta defenses) could have done the job themselves with a fraction of troops involved in Albania and Greece.


And what about the decision to attack France in the south ? What genius Italian diplomatic mastermind was behind that according to the writer of the paper ?

This depended on the fact that Italian war was a bet on the fact that in a few months Germany had won the war. So the orders for Italian armies were strictly defensive all avoer the fronts with some exptions, like France.
The Italian attack to France in the Alpes was a geographical and political need (but military absurd) of the bet: 1) Germans didn't want an Italian army on their front; 2) there was no plan - like during the Triple Alliance time - for Italian armies serving alongside the Germans in central Europe against France; 3) the Steel Pact alliance provided the war not before 1943, until then were not provided common Italo-German war plans...

Anyway I think you' dont have clear that military power is a thing, political foreseeing is another one...

DVX
03-15-2015, 06:05 PM
@ Leccy

"Italy and Germany combined could not have succeeded with operation Sealion, they did not have the material, equipment, skills, experience to launch a sea borne invasion - Even with the Regia Aeronautica's aid in the battle of Britain they never succeeded in even beating the RAF alone"

The problem is another: Germany "left" the front against Great Britain with Great Britain still at war! If Britain could not be beaten on the Sleeve, could be beaten in the Mediterranean Sea! But Germans never understood this point, apart for a short time Admiral Reader.

"Germany watched the Italian forces invade France (and get beaten) after the German forces had defeated the Dutch and Belgian forces, seriously weakend the French and British forces where most of the best units had already been lost, Italy then attacked the small and poorly equipped British Forces in Egypt and stop fortify themselves and then get beaten - chased all the way across Libya, then the Italians invade greece and get beaten again - does it really surprise people that they were not considered a main axis force - even in East Africa they heavily outnumbered the British Commonwealth forces and initially at least were much better equipped"

Italian army on the paper was stronger than the British one in Africa, but only on the paper: Italian troops outnumbered the enemy, but the enemy outnumbered the Italian in weapons and quality. And Italians had worse supply lines (and even no supply lines, like in Eastern Africa).

"Tunisia was under the control of Vichy France not Germany in 1941/42 - they had not the forces to spare to occupy them for the Italians"

Italy asked to Germany to ask to Vichy its north Africa bases: the foolish refuse to accomplish the request compromised the war in north Africa and allowed the Allied landings of november 1942.

"Italy could of course have invaded Malta itself - The Germans having suffered huge losses in Holland and Crete amongst their airborne forces and transport aircraft were reluctant to do it again so meaning a seaborne invasion would be needed - lack of suitable equipment and experience again"

The problem is that Germans didn' have this kind of complex in wasting troops on the eastern front.

"Hitler wanted peace - as complete victor - not admit defeat against 'lesser people'"

This is is not a realistic and foreseeing policy when you're losing a war...: http://www.ww2incolor.com/forum/showthread.php/10876-Why-did-the-Italians-lose/page6

"Hindsight - they should not have jumped in to gain some of the spoils and glory"

I absolutely agree, but this can be said ex post. To the other hand we should admit that if Mussolini had won the bet he loose dsastrously, now he had been the only one leader to realize the Sun Tzu "war victory without fight". Futhermore, Italy was tricked by Germany ( http://www.ww2incolor.com/forum/showthread.php/12159-The-German-betrayal-Like-the-Third-Reich-ruined-Italy-by-Erich-Kuby ).

And Hitler never accepted the Mussolini's advices: to give back indipendence to a new (and obviosly littler, but indipendent) Poland, to create an new indipendent Ukrainian state, to write an "New Europe" chart by wich fighting the "Atlantic chart", not to attack Russia before England was out of the war, and finally to reach an agreement with Stalin (the only one wich was not closed to a possibility of peace with Germany) and so on...
Even Leon Degrelle, as Axis supporter, said that it was clear against what Axis fought, but it was not clear for what Axis fought... Surely this was a fault of German politics...

On the other points more or less I agree with you. But politics and military go on different plains in the meaning of prof. Sadkovich, rightly for me.

leccy
04-05-2015, 12:10 PM
@ Leccy

"Italy and Germany combined could not have succeeded with operation Sealion, they did not have the material, equipment, skills, experience to launch a sea borne invasion - Even with the Regia Aeronautica's aid in the battle of Britain they never succeeded in even beating the RAF alone"

The problem is another: Germany "left" the front against Great Britain with Great Britain still at war! If Britain could not be beaten on the Sleeve, could be beaten in the Mediterranean Sea! But Germans never understood this point, apart for a short time Admiral Reader.

Germany diverted its forces to the Soviet union (which was its ultimate aim at the start of the war) when it realised it could not invade the UK, it could not even beat the RAF nor close the supply lanes to the UK.

I was pointing out that even with the full might of the Italian Airforce and Navy Germany would not have been capable of invading the UK - so the original claim that Germany "Failed its nerve adding to Italys woes" is false the germans were beaten in the air and had no capability on the sea

A German failure to succeed would have been a disaster and only helped the Italians in the Med a little at the cost of a huge amount of men and material to Germany that it could not afford to lose. Germany already had shortages in men and equipment in 1940 by 1941 it was not much better off being forced to use much captured material (often of poorer quality) just to equip its own units

"Germany watched the Italian forces invade France (and get beaten) after the German forces had defeated the Dutch and Belgian forces, seriously weakend the French and British forces where most of the best units had already been lost, Italy then attacked the small and poorly equipped British Forces in Egypt and stop fortify themselves and then get beaten - chased all the way across Libya, then the Italians invade greece and get beaten again - does it really surprise people that they were not considered a main axis force - even in East Africa they heavily outnumbered the British Commonwealth forces and initially at least were much better equipped"

Italian army on the paper was stronger than the British one in Africa, but only on the paper: Italian troops outnumbered the enemy, but the enemy outnumbered the Italian in weapons and quality. And Italians had worse supply lines (and even no supply lines, like in Eastern Africa).

Italian equipment in 1940/41 were of comparable or better quality than much of the British Commonwealth equipment (some items were worse but that went for both sides), the Italian Airforce had better aircraft in both North and East Africa as well as out numbering the allies, the Italian Navy could have taken the fight to the Royal Navy but surface combat was limited (the British took the lead at Taranto and never really looked back - the RN took losses but was not driven to sit in ports - The Italian Navy working with its airforce could have done much more than they did).

The big problems for the Italians was moral, training, motivation, leadership, command structure.

Italians had much more direct supply lines to North Africa than the British Commonwealth did from the UK

"Tunisia was under the control of Vichy France not Germany in 1941/42 - they had not the forces to spare to occupy them for the Italians"

Italy asked to Germany to ask to Vichy its north Africa bases: the foolish refuse to accomplish the request compromised the war in north Africa and allowed the Allied landings of november 1942.

What could the Italians have done to prevent the Allied landings in 1942, they could not supply their forces already in North Africa through closer ports, they could not provide enough equipment for its troops fighting - so how would it have equipped and supplied forces no where near the fighting.

Germany was still trying to get the Vichy to fight for them, Vichy after the attacks on its Navy and later in Syria and Lebanon by the Allies had no real love for the Allies.

Germany had an agreement with Vichy - it would control its territory and prevent the Allies using it - the germans would not occupy the territory - why should the Germans change that to suit the Italians? Mussolini had shown himself capable of taking independent action without informing or asking the Germans about it

"Italy could of course have invaded Malta itself - The Germans having suffered huge losses in Holland and Crete amongst their airborne forces and transport aircraft were reluctant to do it again so meaning a seaborne invasion would be needed - lack of suitable equipment and experience again"

The problem is that Germans didn' have this kind of complex in wasting troops on the eastern front.

If the Italians wanted Malta they could have invaded, Germany did not want to get involved in the Med - Mussolini forced them to - so for the Italians blaming Germany for failing to take Malta, for failing to provide enough men and material to defeat the Allies in North Africa, for failing to provide resources etc when Germanys whole aim of the war was to gain land and resources in the East - is a bit well rubbish - Italy started the war in the Med and failed so needed German help which diverted men and material from Germanys war aims.

"Hitler wanted peace - as complete victor - not admit defeat against 'lesser people'"

This is is not a realistic and foreseeing policy when you're losing a war...: http://www.ww2incolor.com/forum/showthread.php/10876-Why-did-the-Italians-lose/page6

Did Hitler ever admit he was losing the war - he did not request a surrender even when the Soviets were at Berlin - if Germany could not conquer Europe it should perish was his idea.

"Hindsight - they should not have jumped in to gain some of the spoils and glory"

I absolutely agree, but this can be said ex post. To the other hand we should admit that if Mussolini had won the bet he loose dsastrously, now he had been the only one leader to realize the Sun Tzu "war victory without fight". Futhermore, Italy was tricked by Germany ( http://www.ww2incolor.com/forum/showthread.php/12159-The-German-betrayal-Like-the-Third-Reich-ruined-Italy-by-Erich-Kuby ).

I like this quote from that link


finally the betrayal of Karl Wolff and the German forces in Italy that surrendered without informing the RSI) has systematically deceived the Italian 'ally'.

Just like the Italians informed the Germans before they surrendered and changed sides in 1943 - mind you they did not even inform their own Generals either with Italian units in Greece and Yugoslavia finding out as they were disarmed and imprisoned by what they thought were allied troops. Betrayed by their own leaders.

And Hitler never accepted the Mussolini's advices: to give back indipendence to a new (and obviosly littler, but indipendent) Poland, to create an new indipendent Ukrainian state, to write an "New Europe" chart by wich fighting the "Atlantic chart", not to attack Russia before England was out of the war, and finally to reach an agreement with Stalin (the only one wich was not closed to a possibility of peace with Germany) and so on...
Even Leon Degrelle, as Axis supporter, said that it was clear against what Axis fought, but it was not clear for what Axis fought... Surely this was a fault of German politics...

Hitler did not want any deal with the Soviets he wanted the land and resources - Stalin would have only considered it while Germany was winning easily (and even then it would have been uneasy with both sides looking to restart) - basically it would only end with the destruction of one side or the other.

Mussolini and various writers could say all they wanted about Hitler should have made a deal with Stalin, at the end of the day it was not Hitlers or Stalins mind set to do that - even if Hitler had proposed it - by 1942 the war was lost to Germany, most other nations could see this - why make a deal with someone who is losing especially when they are on your territory.

On the other points more or less I agree with you. But politics and military go on different plains in the meaning of prof. Sadkovich, rightly for me.

Mussolini was an opportunistic gambler who was not good at bluffing - France and the UK wanted Italy and Romania to join in against the Germans or at least stay Neutral - not as many spoils that way though, Italy chose its sides, Romania had less choice.

The Italians thought the UK would surrender or would be powerless to act in the Med - the Germans thought Britain was bottled up and neutralised - Germany knew Britain could not attack and occupy any territory it held for years at least. Time enough to deal with the Soviet Union as many thought it would fare as poorly as the Allies did in France and the Low Countries (don't forget common perception was that the Soviets had a huge army but it was pretty useless after its poor showing against Finland).

The Italians attacking Egypt gave the british Commonwealth and outlet for its revenge, a place it could fight the Axis powers. it allowed the rest of the world to see that Britain would continue the fight against the axis until Europe was freed.

You could almost say Italy declaring war on Britain caused the Axis to lose the war - at the time there was a strong lobby in the UK who wanted peace, with another period like the Sitzkrieg where Britain had no chance to influence things maybe they would have won out and made peace.

With no fighting would the US have carried on supplying the UK and instigated Lend Lease.

Just a few things to ponder, seems most people only look at the politics from one side of the fence.

JR*
04-08-2015, 08:39 AM
Interesting and thought-provoking comments, leccy, as always. The British had considerable forces in Egypt and the Middle East, and considerable ability (albeit with difficulty) to reinforce them and resupply them from the East. However, without the Italian attack from Libya and the Italian adventures in the Balkans and Greece, these forces were effectively bottled up, incapable of influencing the war. Mussolini's actions produced a radical change, exposing Italy (and in turn Germany) to combat in a secondary but yet critical area which their forces (bearing in mind overall German commitments) were ultimately unable to sustain, resulting in ultimate defeat. There were disasters for the British and Commonwealth forces - Greece, Crete - but yet it can be argued, from an overall strategic position, that the engagement of Britain's "eastern" assets, including the Suez Canal and Indian Army, in the Med theatre so close to Europe, was a very serious burden inflicted on Germany solely through Mussolini's ill-advised adventures.

As to the initial reactions of the US to all this - hard to assess one way or the other, since we are firmly in the realm of supposition on this point. What is clear is that Mussolini either genuinely deluded himself as to the capacity of his forces and war industry to sustain the aggressive enterprises which he initiated, or decided to bluff on a very weak hand. Either way, the Germans had little option but to follow along, trying to clear up his mess, since the Italian initiatives exposed them to a "southern front" that, unattended, could have exposed them to a deadly threat from the south. Which, in fact, it did.

I have the greatest respect for the Italian soldier. In WW1, in the "White War", they fought and endured enormous hardships, and only broke when weakened by enormous pressure over a period of some three years, exacerbated by high command conduct that left that on the Western Front in the shade for sheer incompetence and callousness. In WW2, they were propelled into a mechanized war for which they were not equipped, again, with generally sub-standard high leadership. I intend no insult to Italy or its soldiers, sailors and airmen. However - Mussolini as a high leader ? Even Hitler, with all his delusions and manias, was not that bad ... Best regards, JR.

DVX
04-08-2015, 03:28 PM
Ok JR I understand and I agree with you. Mussolini was a cynical and played Italy at the dice game of the international politics, on the bet that the war was over and already won by Germany. As a matter of fact, in this calculation it was irrelevant the impotence of the Italian armed forces. "I just need a thousand of deads to seat at the table of peace" he said. Anyway Mussolini shares this responsability with the king and a part of the public opinion, with some illustrious exceptions like Balbo and the same Ciano (who was late anyway). In my opinion (wich is of course the same of many historians that suspect this) this bet had a political insurance in the secret agreements with Churchill. At last this wrong bet and its conseguences ruined Italy (later Churchill didn't pay - probably because he couldn't pay - the insurance and was the true instigator of the murder of Mussolini, to destroy the evidence), but if Mussolini had won it now he would be the only statesman able to apply Sun Tzu. The fact that the only military power was Germany is out of question, but politically Mussolini was much more agile and forward-looking than Hitler, and the obstinacy of the Germans to not listen reasons, to persevere in strategic and political decisions that should had been changed due to the rapidly changing scenario of the war, has lastly done much more damage to the Axis cause than the Italian military weakness.
It was the political attitude to make Mussolini a better leader than Hitler (wich was a sly politician anyway, of course), not the military power. This is for me the meaning of the article.

DVX
04-08-2015, 03:40 PM
Btw JR,
in WW1 Italy, resisting on the Piave (battaglia del Solstizio) saved the Entente, because with an Italy out of war, 80 Austro-Hungarian divisions would have gone on the western front, before the US troops arrival, just ready for the Ludendorff offensive that did much more harm to the Allies than Caporetto to the Italians... ;-D