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Thread: Italian Front

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  1. #1
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    Default Italian Front

    Everything I've read and watched has said that Stalin was always crying out for a second front. If I remember correctly, debatable, this started in 1941 when the invasion started. In 1942, the invasion of Italy became a reality. Wouldn't this be a second front? I can understand that Stalin wanted a more draining front than Italy, but does it not count, and wouldn't that make Normandy, when it does eventually happen, a third front?

    I posed the question to my western civ teacher today and didn't really get a satisfiable answer.
    Last edited by Churchill; 05-05-2011 at 10:46 PM.

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    Default Re: Italian Front

    Normandy is exactly the third front. From what i read, also Churchill and Roosevelt want another beach landing in Mediterranean area, at the beginning the want to land in Black Sea, but Stalin don't agree so they choose to land first in North Africa and from this advanced base land in Italy.
    From Stalin point of view, Nazi has a less numerous army, so after that Germany move enough soldier away from Eastern front he was sure to be able to win because he can simple flood German lines.
    Last edited by burp; 05-06-2011 at 03:51 AM.
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    Default Re: Italian Front

    Stalin wanted a second front - but not in this part of Europe since he had some plans for this region himself...
    "I just ran out of ammo. I will ram this one. Good bye, we'll meet in Valhalla." - Major Heinrich Ehrler, April 4, 1945

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    Default Re: Italian Front

    Yeah, but why would Stalin want Italy? That place was, and kind of is still, messed up. What could he hope to accomplish there? Or are we talking about him using Italy as a jumping point for Southern France, Austria, of Yugoslavia?

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    Default Re: Italian Front

    Yes, Stalin asked a second front and after Operation Husky in july 1943 this second front was opened. Anyway, a second front opened in Italy or in the Balkans (Churchill thought even to a landing in the Balkans, for evident political reasons: reach them before the communism) had some military problems. Italy and Balkans could be more easily defended because they're montainous lands, with a few wide ways. In the case of Balkans, for Germans would be more simple move divisions from eastern front.
    Italy was attacked for political reasons as well as strategical reasons: to put out Italy from the war with all the moral consequences of this in the opposite sides.
    France was actually the third front, but it was considered the most important for Allies, because it splitted in two far fronts the German Army and freeded the western Europe.

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    Default Re: Italian Front

    Quote Originally Posted by DVX View Post
    In the case of Balkans, for Germans would be more simple move divisions from eastern front.
    Yeah, but wouldn't that be what Stalin wanted?

    Quote Originally Posted by DVX View Post
    Italy was attacked for political reasons as well as strategical reasons: to put out Italy from the war with all the moral consequences of this in the opposite sides.
    Was Italy really a force to be reckoned with at that point in the war?

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    Default Re: Italian Front

    Quote Originally Posted by Churchill View Post
    Yeah, but wouldn't that be what Stalin wanted?



    Was Italy really a force to be reckoned with at that point in the war?
    Stalin just wanted a reductions of German pressure on his front, of course Anglo-Americans wanted a second front for their political and military interests, not just because Stalin asked it. The Balkans were too much near, strategically, to the eastern front, too far from Germany's heart, and like Italy, a montainous enviroment with a few big ways of communication definly quite easy defendable. Of course Churchill thought to them for political reasons.
    As Fredl 109 and Nick was rightly saying Italy could be defended with not too many troops thanks to the monatianous environment and the few way of communication, but it was anyway an useful way to fix some German division in another front.
    At the time of Operation Husky Italy was already defeated in Africa, a strategical sector ever undervaluated by Hitler and his obsessions for easter front. So invasion of Italy, was important not so much for military reasons, as far political and strategical reasons.
    I told in fact political and moral conseguences: do you imagine the political and moral effects in a war of the surrender of one of the major Axis powers (Rome Berlin Tokio)? The effects for the home front? In the Allies side and in Axis side; ones feels the war is not far from victory, the others from defeat.
    The political reasons about knocking out Italy from the war are absolutely clear in that context, and they join the moral reasons I was saying and the strategical ones that have been told.

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    Default Re: Italian Front

    It was my dear DVX, a good way to fix some of the German troops were still very numerous in Italy at the time and that could pose a big problem if it had been folded over the East. But on the other side the Germans had greatly strengthened their positions in northern Italy, for they knew that after the defeat of the Axis in North Africa, one of the best entry points for the Allies were just the Italy.
    Friendly Fred
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    Default Re: Italian Front

    The problem with Italy was that it was too easily defended with a minimum number of troops that could even have largely withdrawn to the Alps, instead of waging a dogged fighting withdrawal, and still bottled up the Allies with lessor resources. The Italian Campaign was beset by numbers of problems, not least of which intercedent fighting between the Americans and British (mainly being Churchill and a few factions in the British high command) that wanted to make Italy the main focus and stab up the "soft underbelly" of the Axis; and the Americans (and many British) that knew a cross channel invasion was inevitable. Maps showed that Marshall, Ike, and even Monty were right. Italy was really only a partial second front since it was far less of an immediate threat to Germany than was an invasion of France by fast moving, mechanized forces that were essentially a knife to Germany's jugular: the Ruhr River Vally. That being said, the Italian Campaign did drain German resources and forced them to counter what was still a very real threat while having to defend the French coastline, and just about every other coastline in the West. But I think you'd find the numbers of German divisions in Italy were a drop in the bucket to those on the Eastern Front, and even the ones earmarked to defend France...

    But to answer the OP's question, you could still regard North Africa as a "second front" in a way, as the Axis defeat there was in many ways on par with the defeat at Stalingrad in terms of losses and morale. But when we're talking about a true second front, I think one must define it as a Western Front that menaces Germany with a true existential threat to its economic lifelines in the West, forcing Germany to draw off divisions from the East in significant numbers, which of course Overlord finally did. This could never be done in Italy, whose mountainous country could be defended on a shoestring, as the cost of trying to break into Austria would have been tremendous to the Allies as well as slow going that negated their now overwhelming advantages in logistics and transport. Hope that helps...
    Last edited by Nickdfresh; 05-07-2011 at 05:20 PM.

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    Default Re: Italian Front

    I can see those, but was Italy a major player after their defeat in Africa? Taking Italy out of the war for moral purposes, at least to me, would have been like taking out Balkan state like Hungary. I don't see places like Hungary or Romania as major players, and I don't see Italy as a major player after Africa. I think that to get that from me they would have to have been able to at least defend their country with their army, and, from what you said, it should have been relatively easy seeing as Italy is a narrow peninsula with mountains, in other words the perfect defensive terrain. Sure Italian moral wasn't very high, but was it ever after Albania and Ethiopia?

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    Default Re: Italian Front

    Quote Originally Posted by Churchill View Post
    I can see those, but was Italy a major player after their defeat in Africa? Taking Italy out of the war for moral purposes, at least to me, would have been like taking out Balkan state like Hungary. I don't see places like Hungary or Romania as major players, and I don't see Italy as a major player after Africa. I think that to get that from me they would have to have been able to at least defend their country with their army, and, from what you said, it should have been relatively easy seeing as Italy is a narrow peninsula with mountains, in other words the perfect defensive terrain. Sure Italian moral wasn't very high, but was it ever after Albania and Ethiopia?
    About the fact Italy was not actually a major threat for Allies after the lost of Africa, of course I agree. But you are forgetting that Italy was before the war a major political power, and one of the 3 countries of the Tripartite Pact (German, Japan and Italy). Don't see everything only under a retrospect point of view of military strenght.
    About Italian drop of moral strenght, after the lost of Africa, of course Allies know that: they know that in 1939-40 Italy didn't want the war but was forced, being completetely unprepared, for several political reasons, to bet her destiny in the conflict. They knew that all contradictions of that time were exploding in the Italian homefront under the defeat's hits.
    Also for this reason they launched an air "terroristic" offensive, to accelerate the Italian moral collapse, so for a mix of political, strategic, military and moral reason an ultimate attack against Italy was definly opportune. It would the first brick in the Axis wall.

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    Default Re: Italian Front

    I totally agree with you DVX, many people think that the Allies invaded Italy is because they could not do otherwise, but this is your need and situation analysis is correct, the Italian pact between Germany and more important for Germany than the one signed with the Japanese. The loss of such an ally even though this one is weakened after its defeat in North Africa is far from negligible and the Allied invasion of Italy and far from being accidental, no only on a strategic point, the making Italy will allow the allies to provide bases for aviation ideally placed, but the moral cost increased to Germany is very far from being negligible, the loss of Italy that the Germans find themselves alone, and I personally think that this has greatly influenced the decision Allies.
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    Default Re: Italian Front

    Another factor was the Italian dissent, and the ultimate deposition of Mussolini. Many Allied generals, especially the Americans, considered the securing of Sicily along with the near total destruction of Italian sea and air power to be sufficient, and that a weakened Italy would be more of a burden to Germany than one partially controlled (and fed, fueled, etc.) by the Allies. But the virtual pleading and secret dealings with those in the Italian gov't solidified the moral dimension and swung the way of those who thought Italy could hasten victory. In the end, perhaps it was a wash. But the Allies could afford to send manpower and equipment to Italy. Germany under--strain on the Eastern Front, and by a total air war--couldn't...

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    Default Re: Italian Front

    Another point is the psychological effect on Hitler and the demise of the Mussolini regime. Lets not forget where fascism started, nor the roots of the word....
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    Default Re: Italian Front

    There's yet another point to consider.
    Stalin only considered UK & USA as Allies of the moment. As soon as combat in Western Europe ceased, both were again enemies of the USSR, as Stalin viewed it.

    Warfare is also an economic activity, and the UK and USA having to fight a war on three disparate fronts (Europe NthWest, and Europe Sth, Pacific and Asia), whilst still having to supply the USSR via Lend-Lease as well as account for the wellbeing and governance and feeding of the civilians populations in the frontline territories were all vast economic drains.

    Whilst in effect the USSR was having to fight on a (by comparison) unified front (Ukraine, Baltic States) whilst the UK & USA were fighting on disparate fronts was thus a greater economic drain on UK & USA .

    Once the UK and USA economies were sufficiently weakened, neither would be in suitable position to resist the USSR once and if it (Stalin) were to be decided to invade Western Europe following the defeat of Germany and Italy. There are indicators that such was in fact the case: consider that Germany itself once defeated became hostage while the USSR developed it's own Atomic bomb under conditions of extreme urgency between 1945 and 1949. The later Berlin Airlift is also integral evidence of the hostage status of defeated Germany.

    Where Italy plays into all of the above is the necessarily economically draining nature of the superbly defensive terrain. It costs per soldier on the ground a hell of a lot more to keep him feed, alive, and maintained in ammunition and medical supplies in terrain such as Italy, than it costs to keep that same soldier similarly supplied in flat open plains such as Poland or the Ukraine, or indeed the Taiga or Steppes.

    Thus, Italy was not only a politico-strategic consideration, it was also an economic drain of larger proportion than the actual strategic worth of the terrain itself.

    As such, it *is* the "second front" (yet relegated to third, see below) Stalin sought to have, but yet is relatively minor in comparison to the Normandy front, which rightly takes the term "Second Front" by virtue of greater strategic importance to the UK & USA.

    Kind and Respectful Regards, Churchill my friend, Uyraell.
    Last edited by Uyraell; 05-10-2011 at 09:14 PM. Reason: Typo.

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