Could Italy have stayed out of World War II?

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,241
Sydney
Italy went heavily for the tankette design , that was the hot new thing during the late 1920ies
the Spanish civil war demonstrated their uselessness

this fashion led to the Carden Loyd carrier incredibly successful design
it was taken and modified by
Italy
Japan
Germany
Soviet Union
Czechoslovakia
Canada
even France
this miserable piece of junk became one of the mother of whole line of light tanks even though they proved useless in combat
but pretty good as all purpose supply vehicle
 
Feb 2018
172
EU-Germany
and yet that is exactly what italy went to war with* all it could muster along with CR42 !biplanes and heavy radialengine MC200, though these successful in spain gunning down >950planes in aerial combat(almost half of the enemy airforce), no match / not the slighest against the british hurricane; british aerial superiority established over north afirca already after the first engagements;

*in fairness the M11 was equally chanceless against the matilda or later crusader tank
 
Jul 2016
48
Tegelen
Italy's entry into the war on the side of Germany was by no means a foregone conclusion. My understanding is that Mussolini made a somewhat irrational decision to enter the war while Italy was unprepared to fight the Allies. Also, the conventional wisdom seems to be that Mussolini was hungry for glory and did not want to stay out of the war and have Hitler take all the spoils.

So here are a couple of questions I hope will be a good incentive for a discussion:

  • Could Italy have stayed out of the war and whether it could have maintained some sort of neutrality?
  • If we imagine the above scenario was true, would Hitler eventually pressure Mussolini to enter the war on his side? In case of non-compliance would Germany then try to invade Italy. On the other hand, one could imagine such a scenario would be costly for Germany.
  • Did elements at home pressure Mussolini to enter the war, by which I mean mostly the Fascists and Nationalists. As far as I know, Italy and Germany were previously not on friendly terms as there were points of friction between the two countries in Austria and the Balkans.
Do not know if it is true but i have heard that after World War II began, the Allies approached Italy with big promises if she would abandon Germany and switch sides to join the Allies. They promised that when the war was over and Germany destroyed that Italy would be ceded the Tyrol, all of Austria, parts of southern Bavaria and that they would make good on the territorial promises which were made to Italy during World War I but which were never delivered.
 

royal744

Ad Honoris
Jul 2013
10,709
San Antonio, Tx
First of all the decision to enter WWII was taken by the leadership of the Fascist Party, not directly by Mussolini [it seems he wasn't that sure]. His driver, Boratto, in his diary wrote that an officer of the Air Force [Italian Air Force] told him that they moved the same planes from a military airport to an other in occasion of a visit of the "Duce" [just to make him happy because he thought that Italy had a lot of military planes!].

Historians tend to think that this was limited to high tech planes, for the rest the planes weren't always the same. Anyway ... if we think to the curious conception of armored vehicles that they had in Italy ...



Like any Party, the Fascist Party thought to the perspective of its political future. Germany seemed to be able to win the war alone and this would have meant the total subjugation of Italy to the German ally. The Nazi Party would have "invaded" the Italian society without doubt [something similar happened in the last years of the war, when the Nazis got the control of the Social Republic created in the North of Italy, there were even Italian Waffen SS ...]. So it was pivotal to take part to the conflict. And Hitler required it: Germany needed Italian Navy to obtain the control of the Mediterranean Sea. But Italian Navy, despite it was a good Navy, without carriers [because of an odd stance of the admiralty who didn't appreciate carriers ... better battleships!] wasn't able to obtain great results. For example Italy never conquered Malta.

So ...

No, I don't think Italy had realistic possibilities to stay out of the war.

In case Italy remained neutral, probably Hitler would have required Rome to allow the German Armies enter Italian territory and to use Italian military infrastructures [like US ask Italy to do in case of American military operations in the Mediterranean region ... remember Yugoslavia, just as an example].

Yes, as I've said above, the Fascist Party played a pivotal role in persuading Mussolini to make Italy join the German military effort.
OK, but he was the leader so the blame attaches to him and not to anyone else. Mussolini, like many leaders, was, first of all, an opportunist.
 

royal744

Ad Honoris
Jul 2013
10,709
San Antonio, Tx
Do not know if it is true but i have heard that after World War II began, the Allies approached Italy with big promises if she would abandon Germany and switch sides to join the Allies. They promised that when the war was over and Germany destroyed that Italy would be ceded the Tyrol, all of Austria, parts of southern Bavaria and that they would make good on the territorial promises which were made to Italy during World War I but which were never delivered.
Who made this offer to Italy? I’m unaware of it.
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,241
Sydney
those promises are fantasies and smack of desperation
in itself , it would be for Mussolini the proof positive that Britain was panicking
 

Rodger

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
6,171
US
Italy's entry into the war on the side of Germany was by no means a foregone conclusion. My understanding is that Mussolini made a somewhat irrational decision to enter the war while Italy was unprepared to fight the Allies. Also, the conventional wisdom seems to be that Mussolini was hungry for glory and did not want to stay out of the war and have Hitler take all the spoils.

So here are a couple of questions I hope will be a good incentive for a discussion:

  • Could Italy have stayed out of the war and whether it could have maintained some sort of neutrality?
  • If we imagine the above scenario was true, would Hitler eventually pressure Mussolini to enter the war on his side? In case of non-compliance would Germany then try to invade Italy. On the other hand, one could imagine such a scenario would be costly for Germany.
  • Did elements at home pressure Mussolini to enter the war, by which I mean mostly the Fascists and Nationalists. As far as I know, Italy and Germany were previously not on friendly terms as there were points of friction between the two countries in Austria and the Balkans.
I believe so. Even though they were in an alliance with Germany, they did not enter the war at the start. I know of no pressure from the Germans upon Italy to do so. At some point this might have come, but would Germany have been in position to invade Italy to force its entrance or to punish them for not? I don't believe so, especially once Germany created a two front war.
 
Jul 2017
292
Srpska
No, for the simple reason Italy controlled Libya since WWI. The Brits/US would require them to turn over the oil production, and they would have to make a choice.
Italy was basically protecting its dominion, except for the annexation of Dalmatia which would fall anyway since Germany sacked Yugoslavia, and Italy felt that was their historic territory. No biggy.
 

Rodger

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
6,171
US
No, for the simple reason Italy controlled Libya since WWI. The Brits/US would require them to turn over the oil production, and they would have to make a choice.
Italy was basically protecting its dominion, except for the annexation of Dalmatia which would fall anyway since Germany sacked Yugoslavia, and Italy felt that was their historic territory. No biggy.
Do you think Britain would have declared war on Italy if they chose not to enter the war in 1940? Didn't Britain have their hands full with the Battle of Britain? If Italy did not declare war, would they have invaded Albania and Greece?