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Old April 4th, 2018, 12:51 PM   #1

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Were Italians unfairly portrayed in World War Two?


Were Italians unfairly portrayed in WW2 and after the war? If so, why?
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Old April 4th, 2018, 12:53 PM   #2

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Sure ... we were well more stylish than they portrayed us!

Actually we don't mind about a lost war ... but don't dare to portrait us as not stylish warriors!

This was just Italian humor.
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Old April 4th, 2018, 03:03 PM   #3
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I think that between the 3 axis powers they tried to do too much with too little.Weak initial british and french responses and early military successes carried them so far but resulted in overstretch with too few resources.

Hitler to some degree understood economic objectives in war but curiously failed to appreciate germany's limited ability to prosecute a prolonged conflict.

Similarly Japan hoped that with rapid initial military success she could stall the United States long enough to build up a defense zone in the pacific strong enough to hold the americans.Yet curiously her primary focus and main concentration of men and material was in China which yielded little for the effort made.

Rapid conquest in short low resource drain campaigns in effect was not just a military strategy but a military necessity.Resources had to be seized along the way but long drawn out campaigns had to be avoided.

Italy did not have the industrial nor resource base to fulfill Mussolini's grand vision of a reborn roman empire.

Japan did not lack in human material but her achilles heel lay in her need to import key resources.

As a side note the italians were not the only ones caricatured in the war.Prewar allied views of the japanese and asians in general carried a equally disparaging assessment of their martial prowess albeit strongly colored with racial prejudice.

The danger for all 3 of the Axis powers was the continual need to stretch current capabilities in order to secure vital resources but over time even small setbacks would prove difficult to overcome and serious setbacks would have dire consequences.

To be fair you cannot equate success in war solely on material superiority but if you compare the resource base and production capacity of the 3 axis powers to those of the United States the USSR Great Britain and her allies the scales of war in a prolonged conflict tipped decisively in the Allies favour.

It seems that Mussolini was portrayed as the kid brother to his older sibling (Hitler) but without the talent ability and organizational mark of his older brother.Always seeking to emulate his older brother but having to be rescued from his bumbling misadventures and seen to be reaping the fruits of his older brothers labours but without putting in an effort.Full of great dreams but not competent enough to attain them.He was seen as a laughable character the butt of jokes and derision exasperation and even contempt along with his strutting pompous new roman legions.

As for the japanese one militarist summed it up :"If we sacrifice 20 million of our people we will have victory."

The german leadership : Germany over all and tomorrow the world ran the popular song. Is that not rather a conceited and delusional world view?Goering had by wars end failed as Luftwaffe chief become a drug addicted wreck his only mark of distinction being his art looting trips.Himmler was hardly the SS Gothic chieftain around which his janissaries would strike their standards rather than surrender but a spineless bureaucrat who coldly processed the deaths of millions.Goebbels was a poisonous serpent adoring of his master who plied his trade in lies and manipulation.As for Hitler he believed that there was no germany after him.He was in his person the movement and all things.If he was to perish there would be nothing.His philisophy was egocentric and nihilistic.He was not comical but twisted and evil.

Were the Italians unfairly portrayed? On a visit to Joseph Stalin in 1945 Churchill had broached the subject of the account or record of the war.He said essentially that the allies would write it.Now imagine that you are a military historian writing post war.You want to be published.You are respected in your field.You have given lectures at very prestigious academies.But you are given to understand in subtle ways that your account should conform to certain expectations certain approved or sanctioned views.

I leave you to draw your own conclusions.

Last edited by baba yagas hut; April 4th, 2018 at 04:58 PM.
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Old April 4th, 2018, 04:11 PM   #4

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Were Italians unfairly portrayed in WW2 and after the war? If so, why?
If you are referring to how the Italian armed forces are usually said to have been sub-par when compared to those of the other belligerents in that war, then I would have to say that their reputation is well deserved and perfectly fair. I mean did Italy win a single campaign without their German allies doing most of the work?
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Old April 4th, 2018, 04:27 PM   #5
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Not really. I mean Italy might have cost the Axis WWII and were IMO clearly a net liability. One of the three fronts that crushed Nazi Germany was started solely by the Italian presence in the war and this front siphoned many German troops from the Eastern front and later Western fronts until the very end. There was also the failed invasion of Greece the Germans had to clean up. Italy's only successful invasion during the war was of British Somalialand and this success was reversed pretty quickly. Italy's immediately giving up once bombed(contrast this with how the aerial bombardments the Germans, Japanese and even British public withstood) quickly followed by Germany disarming the Italian military and taking over northern Italy is also pretty embarrassing IMO.

Now did the Italian military have limited micro successes? Of course they did and if one is looking to cherry pick to fit that narrative they'll find what they are looking for,. I think overall it's a negative story though. It's not like the Italians didn't have the tools in all instances either, the Italians navally for example had better battleships IMO than their UK peers and the Italians weren't able to sink any of their UK counterparts.

On the other hand I do think Italy doesn't get the credit it deserves for victory in WWI, I do think Italy was the difference in that war and if they had went with the Triple Alliance, the Central Powers would have won pretty easily(and I guess that sentiment in Italy was a big part of the rise of Fascism). WWII is a different story and I think the Italians were a net liability. Part of the difference though is that in WWII the Austrians and French the two great powers Italy had the best chance defeating either didn't exist or were quickly defeated leaving them to fight powers they just didn't have the capacity to beat, but then there's the situation in Greece where this excuse doesn't apply.

That being said the Italians didn't sign up to fight the US, Hitler made that decision for them and that is in the end what led to their country being invaded(UK would have taken Libya but I doubt they'd have invaded Italy proper on their lonesome). There's a lot more Italian failures than that though and any legitimate Italian excuses you can find doesn't account for the entire negative record.
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Old April 5th, 2018, 06:56 AM   #6

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To beat the Germans, the British had to beat the Italians first, and that took us 2 years to do.

By keeping the British occupied in the Mediterranean, the Germans had a free hand to invade Russia.

The Germans did lend support to her weaker ally, but I hardly think a couple of armoured divisions would make or break the Germans on the Russian front. Besides, in exchange for Rommel and his Africa Corp, Mussolini sent an entire army to fight and die in Russia.

So whatever the Germans did for the Italians, it rarely came free.
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Old April 5th, 2018, 06:59 AM   #7

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Originally Posted by Prince of Orange View Post
If you are referring to how the Italian armed forces are usually said to have been sub-par when compared to those of the other belligerents in that war, then I would have to say that their reputation is well deserved and perfectly fair. I mean did Italy win a single campaign without their German allies doing most of the work?
Can you give examples of being sub-par?

I believe in the Mediterranean, Greece and North Africa, it was the Italians who did most of the work. It was their theatre of war; the Germans were kind of there, but not in big numbers.
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Old April 5th, 2018, 07:12 AM   #8
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To beat the Germans, the British had to beat the Italians first, and that took us 2 years to do.

By keeping the British occupied in the Mediterranean, the Germans had a free hand to invade Russia.

The Germans did lend support to her weaker ally, but I hardly think a couple of armoured divisions would make or break the Germans on the Russian front. Besides, in exchange for Rommel and his Africa Corp, Mussolini sent an entire army to fight and die in Russia.

So whatever the Germans did for the Italians, it rarely came free.
"To beat the Germans, the British had to beat the Italians first, and that took us 2 years to do."

I don't think this is supported by the evidence. The whole reason Germans ended up in North Africa is that they were on the verge of losing Libya letting the UK into Vichy/German North Africa. Italians were on their own in the beginning and the UK wasn't having any trouble at all.

"By keeping the British occupied in the Mediterranean, the Germans had a free hand to invade Russia"

If the Italians hadn't joined the war they'd have been no need to keep the British occupied in the Mediterranean(nor eventually keep the Americans occupied in Italy)as they'd have been no war there. They don't deserve credit for doing a mediocre job containing a mess that they themselves created.
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Old April 5th, 2018, 07:13 AM   #9

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What would have happened if the US and Russia had remained completely neutral and we Brits had to fight both the Germans and the Italians on our own with no massive aid from either of them, nor from the Commonwealth?

I think we all know the answer to this...
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Old April 5th, 2018, 07:15 AM   #10

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Originally Posted by TrueHistory77 View Post
Were Italians unfairly portrayed in WW2 and after the war? If so, why?
Because Italy had been the leading power of fascism, had promoted and funded Hitler, had invaded and gassed Ethiopia, funded the civil war in Spain, attempted to invade Greece and North africa to set up their own Empire and failed.

Better to be thought of as loveable buffoons who had been dragged in by the Nazis instead of the instigaters of Fascism and Nazism.
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