World War II
History of Italy 1945-1949

Italy, 1943-1945

Fall of Mussolini . Republic of Salo . Liberated Italy

The Fall of Mussolini and the Armistice . The Battles of El Alamein (Nov. 1942) and of Stalingrad (Jan./Feb. 1943) had marked the turning point in World War II; it was obvious that from now on the Allies were on the offensive and, miracle weapons such as the Wunderwaffen German propaganda wanted everybody to confide in disregarded, defeat was just a matter of time.
In Italy, with the Allies closing in on Rome, Mussolini had lost his credibility. Massive strikes occurred - the first in 20 years, even within the Fascist Party there was widespread dissatisfaction with Mussolini. On June 25th, Mussolini was arrested on the order of King Victor Emmanuel; on June 26th Marshal Badoglio was appointed prime minister. The new government immediately entered secret negotiations with the Allies for an armistice.

The Republic of Salo . The Armistice Agreement was published on September 8th; German troops now quickly occupied Rome. The king and many politicians fled; after a German command freed Mussolini, the Nazis established the Republic of Salo (named after it's capital, a small town in Northern Italy; official name Repubblica Sociale Italiane) with Mussolini at its head. Now, Mussolini was a mere puppet, totally depending on the Germans. Within the Republic of alo, new Fascist organizations were established, shaped after the German model, brutal in their methods. In the Republic of Salo, Italian Jews were subjected to arrest, deportation and genocide - the Holocaust was implemented; prior to the establishment of the Republic of Salo, Italian authorities had denied German requests to deliver her Jewish population for "special treatment".
Still the Allied forces made slow progress on the Italian peninsula. The Battle of Monte Cassino (Feb. 1944) was decided by Polish and French Moroccan contingents. Rome was liberated by the Allies in June 1944.
In the meantime, Italian Partisans had organized themselves and begun to inflict damage on the Germans and on Italian collaborators. The small Italian enclave surrounded by Swiss territory, Campione d'Italia, declared its loyalty to the legitimate government and issued its own stamps - a curiosity. In 1944, numerous Partisan Republics emerged; the Fascist forces fought them viciously and suppressed most of them. With a mass execution of civilians in the Ardeatine Caves near Rome, the Germans retaliated for an ambush in which a number of German soldiers had been killed.

Local provisional stamps issued by Italian partisans. Inscription on the right translates to : Death to the German invaders and the Fascist traitors

Liberated Italy . Meanwhile, the anti-Fascist parties - the DC, the PSI, the PCI etc. - which had been formed in the underground refused to join the Badoglio administration, demanding King Victor Emmanuel to abdicate. In April 1944, the Communists under Palmiro Togliatti joined the government; in June, Victor Emmanuel's son Umberto was proclaimed lieutenant general of the realm. A coalition government of anti-Fascist parties was formed, headed by Ivanoe Bonomi, a Socialist.
Mussolini, trying to retreat further into territory still held by the Germans, was arrested by partisans and executed on April 29th. At the time of Germany's unconditional surrender on May 8th 1945, German troops still held on to Alpine regions of Italy.
An Allied Military Government was established. The Allies treated Italy as an ally and permitted the new Italian authorities to run the administration, in communication with Allied authorities.

Cronologia, Italian language site on Italian and World History
History of Italy : Monarchy, from Wikipedia
Italy, from Spartacus Schoolnet
Italian Life under Fascism, online exhibition by Library Univ. of Wisconsin
Biography of Benito Mussolini, from The World at War
Sites of the Salo Republic, from CARG
Storia di Milano : I bombardamenti aerei su Milano durante la II guerra mondiale (Air Bombardments of Milan in WW II), in Italian
Italia durant la Segona Guerra Mundial, from La Pagina de la Historia, in Catalan
Article Italian War Crimes, from Wikipedia
Italy, from Jewish Virtual History Tour
Italy in World War II, from World War II Multimedia Database
DOCUMENTS Historical Population Statistics : Italy, from Population Statistics, Univ. Utrecht
Documents pertaining to the Armistice with Italy, Sept. 3rd-17th 1943, from the Avalon Project at Yale Law School; see also Italian 'surrender document' (1943) from World Conflicts : Historical Documents
Flag of the Repubblica Sociale Italiane, from FOTW
Images from the Simon Wiesenthal Center, of Pietro Badoglio (2), of the Battle of Monte Cassino, (7) of Mussolini's "Liberation" (4), of Mussolini's execution (3)
Images from Chronik 2000 Bilddatenbank : Mussolini, liberated from imprisonment, arrives in Berlin, Sept. 12th 1943; The Liberation of Mussolini, Gran Sasso, Sept. 12th 1943; Mussolini and his liberators, Sept. 12th 1943; Glider which carried the commando to Gran Sasso; Monte Cassino Monastery; RAF Pilots over Italy; Italy 1944 : German wounded soldiers wait for transport home; Feb. 1944, Gen. Vietinghoff in command of defense of Monte Cassino; Monte Cassino after Allied Bombardment; Monte Cassino before WW II; The Area at the foot of Monte Cassino; Mussolini and his consort Clara Petacci shot and cut with Duce's sword, April 29th 1945; Surrender of German Army Group C, Italy, Apr. 29th 1945; Clara Petacci; Mussolini, Petacci and others shot, hanged upside down, Apr. 29th 1945
La Resistenza antifascista nella seconda guerra mondiale, from Andrea Domenici's Homepage, among others resistance song texts, site in Italian
La guerra sui muri, i manifesti della Repubblica Sociale Italiana i Modena, propaganda posters from Istituto Storico di Modena
Preliminary Inventory to the Comitato di liberazione nazionale per l'Alta Italia. Corpo voluntari della liberta, Records, 1943-1946, at : Hoover Institution
VIDEOS V for Victory - Anzio and the Italian Campaign, documentary, bw ; Salo, 1975, (Pasolini) in Italian with English subtitles; Open City, 1945 (Rossellini) in Italian with English subtitles; Paisan, 1946 (Rossellini), in Italian with English subtitles, several stories of events happening in different regions of Italy during liberation
Mussolini - Italy's Nightmare, documentary from A & E biography; The Assisi Underground
Life is Beautiful, 1998, English version with English subtitles
REFERENCE History Book Reviews : Italy under Fascism, 1922-1945

Article Italy, in : Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th edition, Macropaedia, Vol.22 pp.165-247, KMLA Lib.Sign. R 032 B862n v.22
Winston Churchill, The Second World War : Vol.6, Triumph and Tragedy, Boston : Houghton Mifflin 1953, KMLA Lib.Sign. 940.53 C563t, chapters Italy and the Riviera Landing pp.75-92, Rome. The Greek Problem, pp.92-104, Alexander's Summer Offensive pp.104-113, Alexander's Victory in Italy pp.454-463
Maria de Blasio Wilhelm : The Other Italy. The Italian Resistance in World War II, NY : W.W. Norton 1988 [G]
United States Holocaust Museum, Historical Atlas of the Holocaust, NY : MacMillan 1996 [G]; pp.168-184 on Italy
Martin Clark, Profiles in Power : Mussolini, Harlow : Pearson 2005 [G]
Article : Italy, in : Americana Annual 1945 pp.381-385, 1946 pp.385-389 [G]
Article : Italy, in : Funk & Wagnall's New Standard Encyclopedia Year Book 1944 pp.159-163 [G]
Article : Italy, in : New International Year Book 1945 (Events of 1944) pp.308-315, 1946 (Events of 1945) pp.290-294 [G]
Article : Allied Military Government, in : Britannica Book of the Year 1945 pp.38-40; Italy pp.377-379 (on events of 1944) [G]
Article : Italy, in : Britannica Book of the Year 1944 pp.370-373, 1945 pp.377-379 [G]
Vera Zamagni, How to Lose the War and Win the Peace, in : Mark Harrison (ed.), The Economics of World War II, Cambridge : UP 1998 pp.177-223, KMLA Lib. Call Sign 940.5314 H318e
Llewellyn Woodward, British Foreign Policy in the Second World War, London : HMSO 1962 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on November 4th 2008

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