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The Italian Partisan Movement

Discussion in 'Western Europe' started by JeffinMNUSA, Sep 9, 2012.

  1. JeffinMNUSA

    JeffinMNUSA Member

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    I am currently slowly digesting the Brown book and it makes for an interesting read (there were in fact "dirty dozen" type Italian American units composed of toughs who just wanted to get back to the old country and carve up NAZIs-then there were surprisingly large numbers of Axis deserters fighting elbow to elbow with the Italian Partisans). The Italians made for some reluctant Axis allies, being dragged kicking and screaming into Hitler's mad war as they were by Mussolini's thugs. When the surrender of Italy happened there was a spontaneous uprising of independence minded Italianos and Italianas- and NAZI turned on it's former ally with a murderous fury previously reserved only for the "untermenschen of the East." The movement was supported by both SIS and OSS but was primarily the work of the latter, and the Italian Partisans emerged triumphant with the entire occupying force surrendering to the Partisans in 1945.
    The Anthony Cave Brown book of 1976; The Secret war report of the OSS - Google Books
    The Weckstein account; Amazon.com: 200,000 Heroes: Italian Partisans and the American OSS in WWII (9781555716981): Leon Weckstein: Books
    The Wilhelm book; http://www.amazon.com/The-Other-Italy-Italian-Resistance/dp/0393025683
    The Lamb book; http://books.google.com/books?id=sLRhooSPGc0C&pg=PA207&lpg=PA207&dq=italian+partisans+tied+down&source=bl&ots=J8bYK7BGZw&sig=o7OmgdunJMZvHBBoqjO6wuWHP4w&hl=en#v=onepage&q=italian%20partisans%20tied%20down&f=false
    More links;
    Forgotten Battles: Italy's War of Liberation, 1943-1945 - Charles T. O'Reilly - Google Books
    Previously Classified OSS Records
    Behind The Lines: The OSS and the Italian Resistance in WWII
    http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=50748
    And bitter controversy rages unto this day; http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?f=75&t=189813&start=15
    To date the only film treatment of this amazing history has been Spike Lee's cartoonish "Miracle at Santa Ana"; and the subject fairly cries for an Ed Zwick to do the Italian Partisan Movement some serious historical justice.
    JeffinMNUSA
    PS. Oops! This post probably belongs in the Mediterranean section-but then again maybe not, as much of the combat occurred near the Alps in the far North of Belle Italia with some Partisan bases in Switzerland.
     
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  2. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    As a lot of Italian partisan units were an outgrowth of the communist party I sincerely doubt OSS or SIS had much to with their creation. The subject is still hugely controversial round here, today's papers had an interview to a right wing leader calling the 1943 armistice the "death of the nation" and those guys, that trace their lineage to the RSI, were part of the previous govermnent.

    I've never researched the subject in depth, it's much "too close to the bone" to be intersting for me but most of what I've come across show very little allied role. IMO they lost the chance of really leveraging the armistice with the cancellation of GIANT II.

    Last thing we need is a holliwood movie (there are some half decent non US ones, no need to look at Spike Lee's ridiculous effort) but the subject is impossible to picture in it's complexity on film, most you can do is tell one episode but then you are going to have a very partial picture.

    In many respects what happened "north of the frontline" resembles a civil war with the usual allotment of vendetta that goes with it and made even uglier by the large amount of foreign intervention, (USA, British, Soviets, Germans, Serbs, etc.. ) each with their own agenda, partisan bands that were sometimes more interested in fighting each others than the fascists, thousands of Allied POWs that escaped during the confusion of the 1943 armistice .... it gets very confusing.

    BTW when talking of Italy fascist is a more correct term than nazi, most of the fighters on the RSI side were not nazi in the German sense.
     
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  3. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    From what I have read that in the last year, a considerable number of non-German allied troops served in anti-partisan role which further complicated the matter. Some committing war crimes others deserting and joining or fighting along side Italian partisans. Too many players to keep track of and each with its own agenda.

    I agree Hollywood is after the mass market block buster and a poor venue, but an Indie move might get at least part of the story 'right'.
     
  4. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    I know about the cossacks, besides one frontline division there were some anti-partisan units and a lot of dependants but there could be others, forgot to list the French attempting to "adjust the borders" in early 1945 (they were fighting RSI troops not the partisans but it still added to the mess).
     
  5. crissiez

    crissiez New Member

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    please watch my film.
    Get back to me with questions

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XXaj8TAFY3k

    I want to get involved in a film that does 'do it right'
    i'm a brit/scot Italian actor.film maker

    I know about what happened-I've researched a lot
    please read blurb at the bottom
    this is my culture
    I have 3 hours more footage of interviews with partisans

    Grazie
    Chrissie Zee
     
  6. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    Good snapshot of a rather different kind of "veterans meeting". The partisan "republics" had little chance if resisting a determined attempt at crushing them, they had little ammo reserves and few heavy weapons, the val d'Ossola partisans were lucky in having the Swiss border to retreat across.
    That clip reminded me of my time as volunteer in Friuli after the earthquake, the Italian mountaineers are a tough breed, they kept on going when us "city types" were flat out, and a bottle of red wine or grappa was never too far away though in those circumstances there was little song. Anyone who has trecked through those mountains can well understand the the dificulties of any sort of military operation in that area.
     
  7. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WWII Veteran

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    On ww2talk, we have also, in the past, written about the Partisans Movement
    http://ww2talk.com/forums/topic/43001-how-britain-tortured-german-pows/page-2
    and I made this comment at the time:

    As one of the "vets" who Mike is probably quoting I can only re-assert my statement, that I personally never witnessed or even heard of similar occurrences but I am prepared to accept that in the grey mist of action and in certain circumstances such as the inability to take prisoners these sort of incidents would and did occur.

    What I have just however been reminded of is the incident when my unit first came across the partisans coming out of hiding and I wrote about it some time ago.
    Quote
    Monday 14th. May 1945
    Moved off at 8 am. Stopped for night just North of Udine at small village that had been bombed by us. Partisans swarmed all over the place, one with Robin Hood beard.

    The Partisans were something new in my experience. In my estimation these were genuine heroes, to have been captured by the Germans would have meant certain death for themselves and probably their families.

    Without exception they were all bearded and dressed in the most motley of clothing. They were armed with mainly captured German weapons and at this point in their lives they were living a dream come true.

    We saw one small group who had recently captured a German soldier. They were pushing him along in front of them to lord knows where. The soldier was grey in face as if he knew what fate awaited him and no one in our party made the slightest move to ask them what was going on.


    Ron
     
  8. arminiuss

    arminiuss New Member

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    Regular soldiers hate partisans. Ask the GIs in Vietnam what they thought of getting shot or blowed up real good by civilians who then hid behind their women and children. From what I have read partisan type warfare usually results in massive civilian casualties. But I guess like the Heydrich operation, those in power will accept those means to meet their ends.
     
  9. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    The military ethos is one of a particular nature (not meant in a bad way).

    They are drilled to fight in specific, rule based manner, so when they encounter those who do not operate on those terms (even if they are "allies") they have a natural antipathy to these persons. A somewhat similar opinion is held for the sniper, theirs are tolerated (and occasionally lauded when they eliminate a threat) but hated out of proportion when they are the enemy.

    I had the honor of working for WWII European vet who served in a recce unit who on multiple occasions encountered German "snipers" who fired on his column in a delaying effort. None of them that did not escape ever made back to a PoW cage. A fact that never seemed to trouble my old boss.
     
  10. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    I read an article recently on the cooperation between Patton's command and the French partizans during the breakout in Normandy. The coorperation was extensive and he made considerable use of them indeed it could be argued that they were one of the keys to the rapid progress he made. The impression I got was that the troops under his command very much appreciated the efforts of said partisans.
     
  11. arminiuss

    arminiuss New Member

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    And what do you think those soldiers would do if they captured someone in civilian clothes who shot up their unit or faded back into the crowd after firing on them?
     
  12. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    This is relevant how? I can't see how it bears on my post at all. It also sounds like you should look up exactly what constitutes a partizan.
     
  13. arminiuss

    arminiuss New Member

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    What does the Geneva Convention and Hague Convention say about partisan warfare? They offer no protection to these forces for a reason. The partisans spent as much time and effort on personal vendettas and criminal activity as anything else. You can be a cynic and just look at it as all good, the attacks on enemy troops and the inevitable recriminations on other civilians fits into the overall plan. What's a few more eggs broken for that omelet as long as your side benefits. It seems some countries attempt to fight a humane war and partisan armies do not fit. They use innocent civilians as unwilling shields.

    How long do you think it took for the Rangers in Somalia to start shooting through the civilians the terrorists(partisans) were using as shields?
     
  14. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    "Civilians" acting as guides to uniformed troops are a rather different sort of fish that "civilians" in rear areas shooting at troops and planting IEDs.
    Regular soldiers would probably welcome the former but are likely to despise the later even if on their own side. Higher commands may be tempted to use the later, especially where it's unlikely the enemy may retaliate in kind, and western intelligence agencies seem to find them irresistible despite a lot of bad experiences with "putting the genie back in the bottle".

    The Germans in Italy usually had as many divisions in "rear area" than on the front line, how much of that "diversion of force" was due to the partisans, to the fear of an Anzio like encircling landing or where just units recuperating/rebuilding after front line duty is hard to determine.

    The role of the partisans is still very controversial here, there are plenty of fascist era nostalgici around, (Mussolini's niece gets regularly re-elected) , and even amongst people that have no sympathy for the fascisti there are may who doubt the partisans where a good thing, northern Italy came pretty close to a civil war, some actually believe there was one.
     
  15. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Actually that is incorrect. Partisans for the most part were covered. Note:
    http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/hague04.asp
    Partisans often met the criteria above. Even when they weren't they were still protected to some extent. For instance look at the section on spys
    And that's the 1907 version. Later versions are even more specific. In particular look at:
    http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/geneva07.asp


    That very much depended on where and when did it not? Some partizans were for all intents and purposes military units operating behind enemy lines. On the other hand the above can be said for some military units as well.

    Some did some didn't makeing such sweeping generalizations is usually wrong and clearly so in this case. It should also be noted that using civilians as shields is illegal and partizans or soldiers can be tried for it.

    The problem here is that there is a significant difference between the meaning of the words "partisans" and "terrorists".
     
  16. Tamino

    Tamino Doc - The Deplorable

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    To be a partisan is absolutely legal and morally correct. When a state and army fail to protect you and your family you have to do it yourself. Live free or die hard.
    [​IMG]
     
  17. merdiolu

    merdiolu Member

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    If you turn a civilian population against you , if you became invader / occupier in political sense guerilla and partisan warfare is unavoidable I am afraid. It is a malignant form of warfare but war itself is a malignant concept if you think. And Total War involve total populations and turn civilians into combatants. When each side bombed other sides cities from air it was an accepted type of warfare during WW2.
     
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  18. Tamino

    Tamino Doc - The Deplorable

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    [SIZE=11pt]You're right merdiolu. Centuries ago great empires fought to conquer territories along with people inhabiting the land whilst the only change for population was whom they paid duties. Starting with 20th century wars were fought with the aim of cleansing conquered territories to provide space for expansion of a nation. To be defeated was a death sentence. Where to go if you don't have your home and country? Six feet under, I guess.Therefore, resistance until the bitter end with a gun in a hand is the only choice. If the regulations are against the partizan warfare then the rules should be changed because the carracter of warfare has changed.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=11pt] [/SIZE]
    [SIZE=11pt]However, Italy is a different story - it was more or less internal matter with an invader supporting one side.[/SIZE]
     
  19. merdiolu

    merdiolu Member

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    In Italy after September 1943 Italians former allies Germans became occupiers and invaders trying to prop up a regime Italians did not want anymore just for the sake of continuing war. Allies former enemies suddenly became liberators and they actually used Italian partisans very well and efficiently for collecting intelligence , sabotage assasinastion and actual attacks , getting out escaped POWs etc. Contribution of royalist and communist (Allies especially SOE sweated a lot to seperate them to prevent killing each other ) partisans and resistance movements can not be underestimated. Their actions were also important for post war self image and self respect / reliance.......
     
  20. merdiolu

    merdiolu Member

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    What I do not get is Germans overreaction and severe reprisals against civilian population due to partisan war. What did they think happen once they became invaders ? Population greeting them with open arms ? And burning villages , shooting hosteges committing massacres would destroy guerilla warfare ? It would only increase it. One only should look to Peninsular War in Spain when French occupied it during Napoleonic Wars . Napoleon might have been a great general but even he couldn't understand and solve asymetrical guerilla warfare problem (word guerilla comes from Peninsular War by the way ) Thousands of Spanish guerillas wreaked havoc behind French lines tying vast numbers of French troops that could fight at front against British. Duke of Wellington used this guerilla card wisely to collect intelligence , informastion and tying enemy up in interior away from front and lowering enemy morale. French response : burn villages , kill innocent Spaniards in droves. Result : Guerilla problem became much more serious for French. Haven't Germans looked history ?
     

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