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Italy in the conflict


President Franklin D. Roosevelt in United States
President Franklin D. Roosevelt in United States

At home the Italian people endured a bitter winter of 1942-1943, with short rations of food and fuel. Corruption and inefficiency among Fascist officials and evasion of the rationing laws by the wealthy and influential contributed to demoralization. In October 1942 the British launched a series of bombing raids against the industrial cities of northern Italy. In February 1943, hoping to turn the tide, Mussolini assumed full responsibility for both political affairs and military operations. When the Axis forces in Tunisia collapsed in May, he established a council of defense to prepare for an Allied invasion of the Italian mainland.

On July 10, 1943, Allied forces invaded Sicily. Six days later, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill addressed a joint radio message to the people of Italy urging their surrender to avoid greater devastation.

The next day Allied planes dropped leaflets over Rome advising of a possible raid on military installations in its vicinity, but assuring that the utmost care would be taken to avoid destruction of residential buildings and cultural monuments. About 500 Allied bombers then attacked railroad yards, war factories, and airfields near the city.

During the raid Mussolini was at Verona, conferring with Hitler on measures to meet the next phase of the Allied invasion. On his return to Rome he was confronted with a demand for a meeting of the Fascist Grand Council to consider the Italian military crisis.

After a stormy debate, the session concluded with a no-confidence vote against Mussolini. King Victor Emmanuel on July 25 asked for Mussolini’s resignation and placed him in military custody. He summoned Marshal Pietro Badoglio to form a new ministry. The Badoglio cabinet soon decreed the liquidation of all Fascist organizations.

The fall of Mussolini precipitated clamorous peace demonstrations throughout Italy. Meanwhile, the Allies continued their advance in Sicily. Churchill offered Italy the choice of breaking off its alliance with Germany or suffering destruction; General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Allied commander in chief, promised the Italian people an honorable peace and a benevolent occupation if they ended their aid to the German war effort. In mid-August, a representative of Prime Minister Badoglio arrived in Lisbon with an offer to join the Allies against Germany when the Allied invasion of the Italian mainland began. American and British staff officers were dispatched to negotiate with the Italian emissary on the basis of Italy’s unconditional surrender. The armistice was signed on September 8, the day the invasion of southern Italy began. "Italy" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.

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