Could Italy have stayed out of World War II?

Jul 2017
292
Srpska
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?
Britain had their hands full, but they committed to fighting Germany from all corners of the earth on all fronts. So no, Britain would not be slowed down., they committed to fighting full steam ahead.

Italy had to make a choice. Germany needed oil. If Italy did not supply oil, Germany would sack Italy.
If Italy stayed "neutral" and supplied oil to Germany, Britain would consider them an enemy and would invade Libya.
Faced with such choice, Italy joined Germany for own integrity, sovereignty, and Dalmatia. Pretty reasonable.
 
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Mar 2015
1,456
Yorkshire
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.
There was no oil production in Libya at all - not one drop. Oil was discovered in 1959 and first flowed in 1960s.

The Italian Navy had problems from the beginning in getting sufficient oil.
 
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sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,234
Sydney
peccavi is right , as far as ressources are concerned , Italy was a major burden for Germany
 
Mar 2015
1,456
Yorkshire
If the Italian Fascist Party was rashly demanding war it certainly was not shared by the military and the Italian people. After all, Italy and Britain had been allies in the First World War.

The Italians in Libya felt hemmed in by France on the one side and British controlled Egypt on the other.

The Governor of Libya, Italo Balboa, had served with distinction as an Alpini Officer, joined the Fascist Party, been in the vanguard on the "March on Rome" and played a leading part in building the Italian Air-force. Made a Marshal in 1933 and sent to Libya, he was strongly pro-British and outspoken critic of rapprochment with Germany. Views which made him unpopular with the Party. At a professional level he tried to make the Italian High Command understand that his forces were not motorised and repeatedly requested two Divisions similar to the Panzer and two airborne.

He was not alone.

The Chief of the Italian General Staff voiced similar fears - speaking of "crushing superiority" of the Royal Navy and lack of air support from outmoded aircraft.

Typically Hitler gave no warning to his ally of any of his actions and Mussolin'si first reaction was to declare non-belligerence and to order Marshal Badoglio to take a defensive position on all borders including the Austrian one. He had previously warned Hitler that Italy would be in no condition to make war before 1943. Mussolini's son in law, Count Ciano, was anti-german and against war - in his diary on the day Mussolini declared war reads "May God help Italy".

On the other side Hitler had urged Mussolini to join in when the Panzers rolled in May but swiftly changed his tune when the Battle of France turned to a rout and the Germans were informing their Italian counterparts, thanks but we don't need your help.

So Yes, with a bit of swift footwork Mussolini could have avoided war. Unfortunately for his people the temptation of an easy victory was too big a lure for Mussolini.

At no time would the British have attacked Italy first.

BTW Italo Balboa was well known and popular in Egypt with such people as Air Marshal Longmore. When Balboa was mistakenly shot down by his own side trying to land in Tripoli, the British sent a plane which circled over head and dropped a wreath expressing their condolences.
 

Scaeva

Ad Honorem
Oct 2012
5,630
Yes, see Francisco Franco.

Had the French and British clobbered the Germans in 1940 Italy likely would have sat out the war. Il Duce only got involved because Paris had fallen to the Germans, the French government had fled to Bordeaux, and it seemed German victory in the war was a fait accompli. He wanted a share of the spoils in what he thought was a sure and swift German victory. Reportedly Mussolini quipped to Marshall Badoglio, "I only need a few thousand dead so that I can sit at the peace conference as a man who has fought."

What Mussolini didn't reckon with was Britain refusing to submit, Germany invading the Soviet Union before the United Kingdom had been neutralized, or the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor followed by a German declaration of war against the United States.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
22,302
SoCal
Yes, see Francisco Franco.

Had the French and British clobbered the Germans in 1940 Italy likely would have sat out the war. Il Duce only got involved because Paris had fallen to the Germans, the French government had fled to Bordeaux, and it seemed German victory in the war was a fait accompli. He wanted a share of the spoils in what he thought was a sure and swift German victory. Reportedly Mussolini quipped to Marshall Badoglio, "I only need a few thousand dead so that I can sit at the peace conference as a man who has fought."

What Mussolini didn't reckon with was Britain refusing to submit, Germany invading the Soviet Union before the United Kingdom had been neutralized, or the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor followed by a German declaration of war against the United States.
Did Italy also declare war on the US?
 
May 2019
202
Salt Lake City, Utah
Spain stayed out. Portugal stayed out. Italy could have stayed out, but Mussolini wanted to build an empire like Caesar.
 
Mar 2015
1,456
Yorkshire
It might be better to debate whether Germany stood more chance of winning WW2 without the burden of Italian participation.

My view is yes.

Both British and Americans only became experienced by fighting in the Desert of North Africa. One does not want to contemplate the shambles of D Day if their forces had been led by their earlier commanders. Definitely then up to Stalin - and a best outcome of a Red Empire from Brest to Vladivostok even if Hitler had been defeated.

So in a funny way Mussolini might have saved the West.
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,234
Sydney
interesting theory and at face value somewhat credible
as for what D Day would have been like ....Dieppe ten time over !