Italy During World War II

1940 (June 10) - Declaration of war:
After the  sudden and unexpected defeat of France by Germany,  Mussolini finally decides to declare war against England,  Canada and France. Italy’s campaign against Greece begins  in October. It turns quickly into a great blunder.

Mussolini meets Hitler in April and agrees to  declare war against Yugoslavia. In June, after Germany’s  invasion of the USSR, Mussolini sends on the Russian front  an expeditionary corps. In December Mussolini declares war  against the USA.

1942 - War in Russia and North Africa:
Italian and  German troops invade and conquer Tunisia on the African  front. British victory at the Battle of El-Alamein in North  Africa. Disastrous retreat of the Italian expeditionary corps  from the Russian front.

1943 - (July 25) Mussolini removed from power:
May, surrender of the Italo-German army in Africa.  Mussolini’s inept leadership and the Italian army’s unpreparedness  and weakness lead Italy to defeat. When the military  disaster is inevitable the Fascist Grand Council finally  has the courage to challenge MussolinI’s erratic leadership.  In a historic meeting during the night on July 24 Dino  Grandi’s motion to remove Mussolini from power is  approved by a vote of 19 to 7.  At a meeting with the king the following morning on July  25, he is informed that he has been replaced with general  Badoglio. Mussolini is arrested. Badoglio abolishes the PNF  (Partito Nazionale Fascista) and initiates talks with the Anglo-  Americans. The announcement of an armistice with the Allies  on September 8 provokes a furious German reaction. While a  battle is raging in Rome Badoglio and the Italian royal family  flee ignominiously to Allied-occupied Brindisi. The Italian army  either resists German attacks or simply dissolves.  Mussolini is freed from his mountaintop prison on the  Gran Sasso in Abruzzo by an SS commando led by Otto  Skorzeny who flies him to Germany.There the Duce announces  the creation of the Repubblica Sociale Italiana which has its  capital in the Northern Italian town of Salò. Mussolini has his  son-in-law arrested, put on trial at Verona and executed by  firing squad. Italy is divided both ideologically and geographically.  The center and northern part of the country is under fascist  and German occupation whereas the southern part is  under Allies’ command. On November 4 1943, American  troops land at Anzio, south of Rome.

1943 (September 8) - 1945 (April 25) Civil war  in Italy:
June 1944, liberation of Rome. War rages in  German - occupied regions of Italy. Italians still loyal to  Mussolini fight against Italians that have joined the  Badoglio reorganized army on the side of the Allies. In  central and especially Northern regions of Italy. The resistance  movement under the CLN (Comitato di Liberazione  Nazionale - Committee of National Liberation) led by  antifascists leaders like Pertini, Longo, Parri and others  helps the Allies to defeat Fascist and German forces.  This is a very dark moment in recent Italian history.

1945 (April 27) Mussolini  captured and executed:
Allied  troops attack and break the  German line near Bologna. In  April Mussolini and his mistress  Claretta Petacci are captured by  partisans while attempting to  escape to Switzerland. On April  27, both are executed by  ‘Valerio’ (Walter Audisio) at  Giulino di Mezzegra. Their  corpses are taken to Milan and  left hanging to the crowd’s scorn where 15 hostages had  been executed by the fascists. On April 25, the CLNAI  (Comitato di Liberazione Nazionale Alta Italia) proclaims popular  insurrection in Milan. On April 29, the last German troops  surrender and the liberation of Italy is complete.April 30.Allied  troops enter Milan and Hitler commits suicide in Berlin.

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