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  • Mussolini stays Neutral

    Italian history is not my strongpoint, so Michele is probably going to tear this to pieces (be gentle with me )

    In OTL Mussolini signed the 'Pact of Steel' in 1939 & eventually went to war alongside Germany in 1940. In this timeline Mussolini is somewhat more wary of Hitler. He pays more attention to the anti-German members of the Fascist Grand Council & their allies & also to those commanders of the RM who have visions of their splendid Navy sitting at the bottom of the Med. He keeps hinting to both Britain & Germany that he might tilt toward them, but doesn't commit.

    When he invades Albania Britain & France are unhappy, but contain their anger in hopes of at least keeping him neutral. When the wider European war begins Mussolini congratulates himself on having kept Italy safe & focusses on his next conquest - Greece. Hitler has indicated that he wants both Greece & Yugoslavia left alone. Mussolini figures that Greece will be weaker & that he can present Hitler with a fait accompli .With Britain & France busy better quality air & land units are moved to Albania for the offensive. Italian troops cross the border the same week that German troops strike West. Despite patchy troop quality & leadership and strong Greek resistance they outnumber the Greeks. The presence of numbers of tanks & aircraft grind down Greek forces. The RM blockades Greek ports while the RA bombs cities. There is still fierce fighting in central Greece when France falls. Italy slowly advances, but it is not until Bulgaria invades Greece in early September 1940 that Greek resistance collapses. Looking for safety, Yugoslavia becomes a German client state.

    With his army exhausted & relations with Germany poor, Mussolini decides not to enter the wider war. Relations with Germany do slowly improve - not least because Germany is now the power in Nth Europe. Italy is happy to sell Germany what it can & help to circumvent any British attempts at blockade. Taking a leaf out of Franco's book Mussolini allows Italian volunteers to join the German military & eventually gathers together a volunteer corps made up largely of 'blackshirts' to fight in Russia.

    Assuming all of this is vaguely possible, how does it impact the wider war? Some suggestions, some possibilities & some questions:

    *Britain quickly takes Syria & Lebanon & is able to divert more troops & aircraft to the Far East. This means that in malaya & Burma the Japanese face: a lot more armour; more professional British units that have trained longer in the area; better generals; better planned defences; 3 Australian divisions plus possibly Kiwi & Sth African forces. There is also a larger naval presence. The DEI/Borneo still falls, but The Malay Penninsular/Singapore & Burma are harder nuts to crack. Can they hold & what difference will it make?

    *Britain is also able to send more equipment to Russia in 1941.

    *Germany doesn't expend resources in the Balkans & Nth Africa in 1941-1943. What impact does this have on the war? Will it make much of a difference in 1941 in Russia? If not can it change the outcome in Russia or just the timetable?

    *Without an Italian front do the Allies invade Sth France in 1943, or does it make more sense to pick off Corsica but focus on a cross-channel invasion in 1943? Will the Allies still wait until 1944 to invade France? What impact with the German troops not lost in Nth Africa or tied up in the Balkans make?

    In short, does Mussolini sitting it out help Hitler win, does it help him at least keep control of western Europe for longer, or will Mussolini be joining the war on the Allied side in 1944 to get in on the spoils of an inevitable victory (and help guard against the advancing Russians?).
    Human beings are the only creatures on Earth that claim a god and the only living thing that behaves like it hasn't got one - Hunter S. Thompson

  • #2
    Originally posted by BF69 View Post
    Italian history is not my strongpoint, so Michele is probably going to tear this to pieces (be gentle with me )
    I'll try...

    First things first.

    1. The attack on Greece isn't going to work short of a miracle, regardless of how accurate the preparation. In actual history the preparation was worse than what a 3-grader could do, but the hard bottom line is that Albania is no staging place for large numbers of troops. Puny handling capacities in its seaports, laughable infrastructure. Logistics, as always, is the wrench in the what-if's gears. The Italians would need to begin to upgrade Albania as a staging area, but there's not enough time with the historical annexation date.

    2. Again on the supply situation, but the overall one for Italy. Sure Italy can supply Germany with something the Germans need: food. Maybe bauxite (= airframes). But everything else, Italy needs to buy. Oil, coal, rubber, minerals for steel... if it's strategic warmaking material, probably Italy doesn't produce enough of it.
    In short, Italy can remain neutral and trade with Germany - if the British, who control the sea lanes, allow that. You'll remember the very meaningful accident of the Italian coalers temporarily seized by Britain up to March 1940. The ships carried German coal but they were neutral ships headed towards neutral ports (Italian ports), and Britain had no right whatsoever to stop them. Stopping them nevertheless was a very clear signal.
    Note that Britain does not necessarily have to use the stick only. The British did show the carrot at that time. Basically they said: "we will sell you the coal you need, and the oil; you pay in hard currency... no? Then you'll pay in military supplies". This would have achieved several goals:
    - making Italy dependent on Britain instead of on Germany, thus more and more unlikely to go to war as a German ally against Britain,
    - getting some military supplies (it wasn't as if the British industries were already geared up for all-out production),
    - getting those military supplies away from a potential enemy (Italy) and away from an actual enemy (Germany, in case Italy decided to sell them to Hitler instead).

    In short, there aren't the resources to carry out this "other war" option, neither at the theater nor at the strategic level, unless one of the combatants in the ongoing war is in agreement.

    More later.
    Michele

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    • #3
      I cant recall how many times I've seen this one discussed. Wish I'd kept a record of these threads.

      Economically a nuetral italy helps Germany in the short run. Another conduit for imports & some items from italian industry. Not a lot & not stratigicaly decisive, but helpful.

      ...& yes both side will have men & material to use on other battlefields. I think the wester Allies might have some sort of campaign in the Med. they would still want to close Vichy France and the rest of it as a nuetral conduit for German imports, and guard against any German use of Vichy territory against the Med sea route. Anvil/Dragoon was a extremely useful operation for the Allied war in the west. Something similar would be very likely in this situation.

      Sometime in 1944 or 1945 Italy may be pressured into joining the Allies, or at least cutting off Germany from any imports.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
        I cant recall how many times I've seen this one discussed. Wish I'd kept a record of these threads.
        Yes, me too, but most of the times Italy stays neutral until...


        Sometime in 1944 or 1945 Italy may be pressured into joining the Allies, or at least cutting off Germany from any imports.
        ...that time. This scenario where Italy has its own little ugly war with Greece is new to me.

        Now moving this other snippet of yours:

        Economically a nuetral italy helps Germany in the short run. Another conduit for imports & some items from italian industry. Not a lot & not stratigicaly decisive, but helpful.
        As mentioned, that is insofar as Britain allows that. Italy buys more rubber in 1941 than it did in 1939? The Royal Navy will jump in, crying foul and "you're forwarding that to Germany!".
        Michele

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        • #5
          mussolini would not do business with the mafia.ben siegel almost killed him when he went there in the 30s.I'm amazed the mafia did not get him or his girlfriend before the italian people did.I have a feeling that had he stayed neutral the germans would have killed him and tried to occupy italy,maybe with the help of some higher up italian officers and politicians.
          I am a soldier, I fight where I am told, and I win where I fight.
          General George Patton Jr

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          • #6
            Originally posted by bigjake1963 View Post
            I have a feeling that had he stayed neutral the germans would have killed him and tried to occupy italy,maybe with the help of some higher up italian officers and politicians.
            What would have Germany gained? An immense vulnerable southern flank for the British to harass? And the need to supply Italy with the enormous amounts of coal, oil etc. that they historically needed to stay in the war?

            To Hitler, the entire Mediterranean affair was a distraction. By the time when Mussolini jumped in, Adolf was praying Benito to stay out.

            Schwamberg has correctly pointed out up-thread that the British would have meddled with Vichy French territories eventually, but even then Germany would have had a comfortable cushion of neutral states from Lisbon to Van, with only a small breach into it (the French Med coast) to guard.

            And in June 1941, the Heer has one Fallschirmjäger, two Panzer, two Gebirgsjäger and a number of infantry divisions more for Barbarossa - the troops that had been expended, attrited, or used and now on garrison duties for Marita-Merkur.

            What am I missing that you see?
            Michele

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            • #7
              Germans eventually wanted all of europe,including italy.they did'nt give a damn about the italian citizens any more than they do the jews of europe. I have always wondered why hitler just did'nt kill mussolini and find another italian that did not have terminal case of the clap which a lot of people think benny boy did! Hitler was nuts any way,and i don't think he would have thought far enough ahead to think how he would defend italy,if it was his to take,he would!
              I am a soldier, I fight where I am told, and I win where I fight.
              General George Patton Jr

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by bigjake1963 View Post
                Germans eventually wanted all of europe,including italy.they did'nt give a damn about the italian citizens any more than they do the jews of europe. I have always wondered why hitler just did'nt kill mussolini and find another italian that did not have terminal case of the clap which a lot of people think benny boy did! Hitler was nuts any way,and i don't think he would have thought far enough ahead to think how he would defend italy,if it was his to take,he would!
                I see. Thank you for taking the time to read my point of view and for providing yours.
                Michele

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                • #9
                  Unless you change Hitler into something he wasn't he wouldn't have turned on Mussolini without provocation:

                  Although Hitler sought the political union of Germany and Austria to happen as early as possible, there is no evidence to suggest that 1938 was the earmarked year for it to occur, ‘if the Fuhrer is still living, then it will be his irrevocable decision to solve the German space problem no later than 1943-45’ but there will be earlier opportunities’.[36] Hitler was aware that Italy could be the crucial obstacle in achieving the Anchluss, and thus wanted to take advantage of the fact that Italy had engaged herself heavily within the Spanish Civil War. Thus hoped that France too would be drawn into the Spanish Civil war, and hence in a war with Italy which would leave Hitler ‘free’ to move.[37] However, by this time Ciano had offered a formal confirmation that Italy would keep out of Central Europe.[38] Furthermore, Mussolini decided to give up his role as the protector of the post-war settlement in Austria and thus to a great degree endorsed closer relations between the two German states.[39] Therefore to a large degree, Italy had accepted the fate of Austria and it seemed she could and would do very little to prevent the political union to the extent that Robson argues that Mussolini even had admiration for German dynamism.[40] Hitler formally decided on the 13th March 1938 that Austria would become an integral part of the Third Reich. The Fuhrer solicited the approval of the Duce, to whom, in return for his acquiescence, he would be forever grateful,[41] as Hitler professed; ‘Tell Mussolini, I will never forget this’[42]. Although Rome-Berlin relations improved, it was Hitler-Mussolini relations that witnessed the greatest improvement as a result of the Anchluss. Hitler deeply respected Mussolini for not moving over the Anchluss issue and this gratitude for the Duce would stay with Hitler predominately throughout the war years.[43]
                  http://www.e-ir.info/2011/07/29/hitl...xis-1936-1940/
                  Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the cheesemakers

                  That's right bitches. I'm blessed!

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Michele View Post
                    I see. Thank you for taking the time to read my point of view and for providing yours.
                    nice to speak to somebody who respects the views of others!
                    itriple salute you!
                    Last edited by bigjake1963; 27 Jun 12, 18:11.
                    I am a soldier, I fight where I am told, and I win where I fight.
                    General George Patton Jr

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by bigjake1963 View Post
                      nice to speak to a real lady and somebody who respects the views of others!
                      itriple salute you!
                      I think you'll find that in Italy Michele is a male name.
                      Human beings are the only creatures on Earth that claim a god and the only living thing that behaves like it hasn't got one - Hunter S. Thompson

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Michele View Post

                        As mentioned, that is insofar as Britain allows that. Italy buys more rubber in 1941 than it did in 1939? The Royal Navy will jump in, crying foul and "you're forwarding that to Germany!".
                        Britain hollered a lot, but the blockade had its holes closed gradually. It was impractical to search every ship hold by hold and the certification program took time to properly enforce. In the early years the documentation for ships headed to Spain, Portugal, Turkey, France, Greece, Yugoslavia, Norway, Sweden, Bulgaria, Rumania, USSR,... was often questionable. Even in 1942 the Brits were claiming US & south American flagged ships were carrying falsely documented cargos in Spanish ports.

                        In 1940 & 1941 Britain had a lot less ability & politcal/economic leverage to create a ironclad blockade & it was as much the disappearance of the nuetral nations that improved the situation.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by BF69 View Post
                          I think you'll find that in Italy Michele is a male name.
                          Thanks for correcting me!
                          I am a soldier, I fight where I am told, and I win where I fight.
                          General George Patton Jr

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
                            Britain hollered a lot, but the blockade had its holes closed gradually. It was impractical to search every ship hold by hold and the certification program took time to properly enforce. In the early years the documentation for ships headed to Spain, Portugal, Turkey, France, Greece, Yugoslavia, Norway, Sweden, Bulgaria, Rumania, USSR,... was often questionable. Even in 1942 the Brits were claiming US & south American flagged ships were carrying falsely documented cargos in Spanish ports.

                            In 1940 & 1941 Britain had a lot less ability & politcal/economic leverage to create a ironclad blockade & it was as much the disappearance of the nuetral nations that improved the situation.
                            All true, but the point is that it would be a political decision. Some 800 Italian ships were stopped and searched, or detoured to a british port and temporarily seized, just before June 1940, and in the specific case of the coalers, it's impossible that they were contraband eventually headed for Germany because the cargo came from Germany!
                            If the Italians begin serving as a "triangulation" waypoint for contraband for Germany, then the British may make their control of the sealanes felt, whether the documents are flawed, or flawless.

                            Naturally, that's if the British decide that such pressure will be productive. It might not be. Personally I believe that if Mussolini is what he was, it wouldn't be. But if he's the way more cautious guy of this alternate timeline and, as I mentioned above, the British also put the carrot on the table... things might be different.
                            Michele

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by BF69 View Post
                              I think you'll find that in Italy Michele is a male name.
                              Yes, thank you. The female form is Michela. Anyway, it's a very common mistake when dealing with English speakers.
                              Michele

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