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Was the Med a sideshow?

Discussion in 'North Africa and the Mediterranean' started by Mahross, Jul 12, 2004.

  1. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    Not only Greece. Hitler sent soldiers to Kesselring even after Mussolini fled.Italy was important to hold. Allowing the Allies to advance in the Med would have given them easy access to the Reich and then Germany would have had another front to worry about.
     
  2. GunSlinger86

    GunSlinger86 Well-Known Member

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    The best equipped and a lot of the times the best trained German troops were fighting in Italy, they desperately wanted to protect the Southern flank and fight the Allies in Italy instead of Germany. It was no sideshow in my opinion.
     
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  3. knightdepaix

    knightdepaix Member

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    So after Italy entered the ww2, Italy became a sink of German troops and could not contribute enough to the German war economy. If Italy remained neutral, could it still help Germany in lesser effort, similar to Franco's Spain.
     
  4. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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  5. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Did Spain actually help Germany that much? Aside from a division of men (they were equipped by the Germans weren't they?) I don't see that they much of a contribution.
     
  6. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Franco refused to allow passage of German land forces for an attack on Gibraltar.
     
  7. knightdepaix

    knightdepaix Member

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    Although I agree that the Med was not a sideshow, I read contrasting views of Italian contributions. One source by an Italian scholar says that Italy during ww2 contributed to German war effort with exports and could only keep on fighting as long as the USA did not join the fight in North Africa. Once the USA did join, Italy was doomed to surrender -- in only a matter of time and timing. This source faulted the Italian economy and governance. Another source by a Cambridge scholar says Italian war effort was plenty of flaws. It was Germany and Czech industries provided some assets -- for example tank prototypes and capture Soviet tanks but Italian governance could not take advantage of it. Not only did this source fault the economy and governance, but also almost everything else except a few bright spots of Italian troops bravery and innovation in a sea of trash ordnance and tank designs
     
  8. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    .....it was a WORLD war .....Italy was one of the members, so it wasn't unimportant .......Spain and France had Med coasts ....I wouldn't call it a side show--more like part of the war
     
  9. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    In a sense, yeah the Med was a sideshow - If you defeat Italy, you still have to fight Germany. However, if you defeat Germany, Italy is finished.
     
  10. Jack B

    Jack B Active Member Patron  

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    Interesting perspective. True, I suppose, but opening the med and invading Italy surely cost the Germans dearly. Unsustainably, I warrant.
     
  11. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Sicily was very important. Without it Monty would have had one less bit of flair for his hat.
     
  12. Jack B

    Jack B Active Member Patron  

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    And there's that......
     
  13. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    Here is my 2p.


    1. Yup. The med was a sideshow. The geography did not lend itself to a battlefield big enough for a fight between 100 British and US divisions and half of the German army. That had to be France.

    2. There is nothing wrong with a sideshow. Given higher numbers of allied troops and exterior lines, a side show is a way of tying down the Germans. An equal number of allied and German divisions in the Med meant the Germans had less to oppose allied troops whose build up was limited by shipping capacity. It is the same logic as the Anaconda Strategy waged by the US Union forces in the ACW.

    3. The Mediterranean was a theatre in which the Germans could only lose. The Balkans were a man trap. There was no path that would take the Germans to Egypt and the Persian Guif,
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2020
  14. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    The Med was also the short route to India and then on to Burma.
     
  15. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    ....Crete, Greece, Sicily, Italy, Southern France, Malta, etc .......Balkans? from ? ? 1940 to----?? 1944/etc? sideshow??!!
    how many units involved? over all those years ? many naval battles/air battles/ground battles
     
  16. Jack B

    Jack B Active Member Patron  

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    If the Russians had the Nazis by the throat in the East, the western Allies had a nice ankle lock on that Italian boot. Team effort.
     
  17. harolds

    harolds Member

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    I think it has been pointed out before (TOS #54) , had Italy remained neutral, there wouldn't have been a campaign in the Med. This would have been greatly advantageous to Germany! ALL the fighting in the Med by Germany was a side-show that took away from her main strategic goal-the USSR. It was a very important side-show however.
     
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  18. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    The problem is Mussolini's and the Fascists spazio vitale predated Hitler's and the Nazi's Lebensraum and had the same imperial and racial notions driving it. Thus, the Italian annexation of Albania in April 1939, predating the outbreak of war in Europe. The result was a rapid decline in Italian-Greek relations. Yugoslavia also remains a wild card, driving the potential for Italy, long-seeking influence in the Balkans, to war with the Allies.

    I think that if Mussolini did not execute his French stab-in-the-back he would still come into conflict with Britain no later than spring 1941. Interestingly, if that happens then it seems likely both 15. Panzer and 5. leichte would be committed to the Balkans and Barbarossa, leaving no Sperrverband Rommel to pull the Italian's irons out of the fire in North Africa. It also potentially leaves the British with a larger and more significant ability to commit forces in Greece and Crete, which changes the dynamic again.

    So overall it might benefit the Germans in the short-run, but long-term is less certain.
     
  19. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    The med campaign was more than an ankle lock on the Italian boot. The Tunisan campaign cost the axis more casualties than were surrounded at Stalingrad. It cost the Luftwaffe huge numbers of aircraft. The Sicilian campaign forced Hitler to cancel his 1943 summer offensive. The surrender of Italy forced the Germans to find a garrison of 80 divisions for Italy and the Balkans.
     
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  20. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    It just rankles me that the campaign in Italy is considered a "side show". My father fought in Italy from Salerno onward. You can be sure that the men who fought and dies in Italy and North Africa most assuredly did not consider it so. When I was younger the notoriety of D-Day and its overshadowing of the Mediterranean theater bothered me a great deal. I suppose a part of this was due to my father's involvement, but Clark's taking of Rome coincided with D-Day. He felt compelled to decry the outcome. As I have gotten older (though not necessarily wiser) I kind of understand this line of thinking. I also retain something of a grudge toward those who worship D-Day to the exclusion of the Mediterranean theater. At the least, the Italian campaign drew off German troops and equipment that were sorely needed in the East and ultimately in France.
     
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