Anglo-American Bias against the Italians during WW2

Jan 2018
160
Upper Volta
I've heard and read that many popular WW2 history books were quite biased against the Italian war effort, even to the point of being quite dismissive and racist.

For example, Anglo-American historians would high-light Allied successes while down-playing Italian ones, dismissing them as having no great consequence. By the same token, they would down-play Allied failures while highlighting Italian ones.
 

redcoat

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
7,812
Stockport Cheshire UK
I've heard and read that many popular WW2 history books were quite biased against the Italian war effort, even to the point of being quite dismissive and racist.

For example, Anglo-American historians would high-light Allied successes while down-playing Italian ones, dismissing them as having no great consequence. By the same token, they would down-play Allied failures while highlighting Italian ones.
And ????
You haven't read much history if you think that this is unusual.
 

Kevinmeath

Ad Honoris
May 2011
14,038
Navan, Ireland
But the Italians did give plenty of ammunition for the bias!

And a 'myth' (it wasn't all myth) that was happily fuelled by their German Allies.
 
Dec 2012
373
that's not exactly a secret thing, there is a reason why Hitler and Hirohito were snakes and Mussolini was a toad even during ww2 American propaganda posters
 

Pendennis

Ad Honorem
Mar 2013
3,386
Kirkcaldy, Scotland
One of the favourite jokes of my childhood was 'WHAT IS THE WORLD'S SLIMMEST BOOK VOLUME?
ANSWER ?-THE Italian book of war heroes.
But of course, the Italian frogmen who crippled two elderly Royal Navy battleships in Alexandra harbour in Egypt with limpet like mines were heroic guys but they were let down badly by the crew of a Cant seaplane that picked up an RAF Beaufort torpedo bomber crew from the drink then let their newly acquired POWS overpower and disarm the Italian plane crew and force them to do a volte face so that instead of heading for Italy they had to land in Malta.NO Axis airmen pows ever hijacked a British plane in this manner.
Still Italian POWS did excel in one way. Witness the beautiful RomanVCathloic chapel that Italian POWS builtwithr scrap materials in the Orkneys at Scapa Flow- an amazing place which I visted in 1999 and is still a huge tourist attraction.
 
Jun 2017
2,971
Connecticut
So if saying the Italians performed pretty well and downplaying their successes is somehow race motivated what is the case for them to be portrayed in another light. The only WWII era successful campaign they had was the attack on British Somalialand and this was a temporary success. They got into France at the last second and took some land, and their invasions of Egypt and Greece were failures that only started to be reversed when the Germans intervened on their behalf. The Italian invasion of Egpyt would have turned into the UK conquest of Libya in 1941 if the Germans had not intervened.

Naval wise the new Italian battleships were quite good their engagements with British capital ships didn't see the end of any British capital ships.

The Italians have a bad rap in WWII because they didn't succeed at anything they did longterm. The Italians in WWI might have been the most crucial power as if they'd went to the Central Powers it's hard to see the Central Powers losing. However there Austria-Hungary already burdened with a surprisingly tough war in the Balkans and a war that was going horrible in the Russians, was an opponent the Italians could defeat, especially while defending the mountains. In WWII, they tried challenging the British Empire for Africa and ended up with American and British forces on their doorstep, once the US got involved.

There's also the failure to defeat the Greeks which even though they had UK support really was an invasion that they should have been successful at.
 
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xander.XVII

Ad Honorem
Nov 2009
3,888
Outer world
It's well-known that generally anglo-american (or anglo-saxon whatever term one prefers) was rather biased until early 1980s.
Going from manipulating and/or ignoring sources (Liddel Hart) to falsifying information (like Desmond Young did in his Rommel's biography), historiography in the Anglo-saxon world has not particularly shone until the 1980s.
Among the many myths:
1) Compass operation success due to cowardice of Italian soldiers
2) The Greece campaign that delayed Barbarossa
3) Stalingrad collapse due to an early withdrawal of Italian forces
4) That the Italian Navy lost his battle
5) That the Italian Navy failed to supply Rommel
6) That somehow Rommel lost because of Italians
7) That Rommel despised Italians
8)that North Africa cost Hitler the war due to the fact that he had to send troops there

And probably there are others that I cannot remember right now, all of them have been debunked by facts.
 

Zip

Jan 2018
502
Comancheria
Italians are poor fighters but proficient assasins. They should’a caught Churchill in a phone booth.
 

Pendennis

Ad Honorem
Mar 2013
3,386
Kirkcaldy, Scotland
Hey Zip -what do you have against Italians?.In 1940 when Mussolin-i jackal like -declared war against Great Britain, all over the U.K. Italian ice cream and fish and chip shops had their front windows stove in by angry anti-iItalian mobs who had to be dispersed by police baton charges.
Many terrified Italian shopkeepers put up notices pointing out their sons were serving with the British Army in order to stop these attacks. So no Italian was going to make a bad situation worse by assasinating anybody-.least of all Churchill.
Besides all Italian males in Britain were scooped up in Britain in 1940 and interred in the Isle of Man so your assassin idea is/ was a non-no.
And Winston Churchill NEVER EVER, used public phone booths-why would he ? His ofiices and abodes had stacks of phones.
 

AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,064
Italy, Lago Maggiore
I guess that the main point about how the Italian Kingdom faced the two World Wars [not only WWII] is that it changed side.

This Italian habit to abandon alliances has always been in some measure despised abroad. But while in occasion of WWI the process was less dramatic [it happened at political level and Italy begun to fight on a side and it ended the war on that side], in occasion of WWII Italy left Germany [and Japan] to their destiny, not only surrendering, but beginning to fight on the opposite side.

This aspect of recent Italian history is may be difficult to understand for someone abroad, but the Italian people is substantially stateless, as for popular culture. So that many Italians lived Fascism as an "occupying regime" itself [!!!]. Fascism had a good popular base and support, but the large majority of Italians were against or indifferent ["Italians carry on despite the government at Rome", this is an old Italian say].

Then ... how Mussolini prepared the war ...


A part this "general impression" given by the Italian Kingdom, the main point to remind and remark is that Italians fought with unsuitable equipment and without a sufficient logistic preparation of the war. To this we can add that:

- Italian armored vehicles were quite poor [good tanks were too few]
- The same about Italian heavy artillery
- Italian navy was really good, but it hadn't carriers, even if our Regia Marina had to plan to project very far the power of Italy [a "world war" is not limited to Central Mediterranean Sea ...]
- Italian commands didn't take some pivotal decisions [like to concentrate the forces to conquer Malta, there were some attempts, but nothing really serious, or avoiding to follow the Germans in Russia]
- The political leadership was persuaded that Germans were going to win the war alone, so ... let's take part to this war ... to seat at the table of the winners ...

... and so on.