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The Allies and the Italian Social Republic (1943-1945)

Anglo-American Relations with, Perceptions of, and Judgments on the RSI during the Italian Civil War


Oreste Foppiani

Italy’s change of camp during World War II marked a turning point in the lives of all Italians, causing the «death of the fatherland» and the collapse of a two-decade long, dictatorial régime. Also, this switch triggered a bloody civil war, which increasingly divided an already fragmented country into two separate territories: the Salò Republic (RSI), occupied and controlled by the Germans, and the Southern Kingdom, occupied and administered by the Anglo-Americans.
This book is about the British and American relations with, perceptions of, and judgments on the RSI. The period examined runs from September 1943 through April 1945 with some incursions into the immediate post-war period, when the Allied Control Commission and, after the fall of 1944, the Allied Commission and the Advisory Council for Italy, were still functioning. During this time frame Anglo-American troops were still occupying Italian soil, and some republican fascists remained in hiding, waiting to appear again on the political scene as turncoats, diehard fascists or «gladiators». While the first part of the monograph deals specifically with the relations between the latter and the Allies, the second deals with American and British journalists and/or intellectuals who wrote about or worked for the RSI. The last section is dedicated to the different categories of post-9/8 Prisoners of War.


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Conclusion 297


279 17. The RSI Prisoners in Italy: Legal and Organisational Problems During the Campaign of Italy, the Anglo-American troops, and to a lesser extent the so-called “Badoglio’s troops,”723 captured thousands of soldiers from the newly constituted Italian Social Republic (RSI) whose armed forces were reorganised and commanded by Marshal Rodolfo Graziani, a highly decorated former Italian Royal Army general officer. The military leader of the Ethiopian war, famous for both his cruel repression of native guerrillas and his total aversion to Mussolini’s deci- sion to enter the Second World War, had a vast project in mind for a volunteer-only, professional army: a project that he was forced to reshuf- fle because of the Nazi’s strict limitations. Notwithstanding their past clashes, Graziani, acting like a sword, and Mussolini, acting like a shield, tried to avoid Hitler’s threats if they did not constitute a German- friendly, republican government in Northern Italy to counterbalance the Allied-friendly régime in Southern Italy, where the ACC and the AM- GOT were the real masters (at least until June 1944 when Rome was re- claimed). The Republican Army played an important if not vital role in the precarious, but real, semi-autonomy of the RSI.724 Graziani’s armed forces consisted of four divisions (Monte Rosa, Littorio, San Marco and Italia) and were to be trained in Germany in the spring and combat-ready in the summer of 1944. While these divisions were unprepared, the only deployable troops on the battlefront of the Gustav Line (especially for 723 It...

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