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What if Italy stayed neutral in World War 2

Discussion in 'What If - Mediterranean & North Africa' started by British-Empire, Mar 15, 2008.

  1. British-Empire

    British-Empire Member

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    Following the German conquest of Poland, Mussolini would change his mind repeatedly as to whether he intended to enter the war. The British commander in Africa, General Wavell, correctly predicted that Mussolini's pride would ultimately cause him to enter the war. Wavell would compare Mussolini's situation to that of someone at the top of a diving board: "I think he must do something. If he cannot make a graceful dive, he will at least have to jump in somehow; he can hardly put on his dressing-gown and walk down the stairs again."
    Some historians believe that Mussolini was induced to enter the war against the Aliies by secret negotiations with Churchill, with whom he had an active mail correspondence between September 1939 and June 1940. The journalist Luciano Garibaldi wrote that "in those (disappeared at lake Como in 1945) letters Churchill may have exorted Mussolini to enter the war to mitigate Hitler's demands and dissuade him from continuing hostilities against Great Britain as France was inexorabily moving toward defeat. In light of this, Mussolini could urge Hitler turn against the USSR, the common enemy of both Churchill and Mussolini".

    So how would World War 2 and Italys future be altered without intervention?
     
  2. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    I should keep a list of forums were this has been raised a dozen times before.

    Italy gets to sell the Germans its industrial and agricultural products for top Lira prices. Ditto for imports around the British blockade. Its a sellers market.

    Britian goes nuts trying to shut off these nuetral conduits, Turkey, Italy, Yugoslavia, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, USSR. Of course one by one they lost their nuetrality in the actual war. In part this was to diplomatic miscalculation by the British leaders, tho there many other reasons. Italy will come under the same pressure.

    As the war unreels the Italians will eithr lean towards the German or Britian. Remaining strictly nuetral will be extrodinarily difficult. Either the aid from italy to Germany will gradually increase, or it will decline. Depends on how internal Italian politics develop.

    Intially this favors Germany slightly. No half Front in the Med. draining off resources, plus resources via the nuetral conduit. What happens after 1942 depends on which way Italy decides to move.

    The Italian military has a portion of its equipment replaced with up to date models. Fighter aircraft, howitzers, AT guns, trucks, armored vehicals are all improved. I'm not sure if Facist party politics allow any real improvement in military leadership.

    Without a Med front the British & US will have to contenplate other ways to strike back at Germany. Perhaps a invasion of Scandinavia? A accelerated bomber offensive? More aid to the USSR? More Britsh resources sent to guard its Asian colonys from Japan?

    In 1943 or 44 Italy may decalre for the Allies and the Germans have to contend with a southern front. Or it Italy decalres for Germany then the Germans have to contend with a southern front.

    The more likely outcome is Italy survives the war far less damaged and perhaps the Facist party remains in power.
     
  3. Tomcat

    Tomcat The One From Down Under

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    Tell me do you always believe everthing that 'historians' with a degree say? You may watch a million documentaries and have read a million books, this however does not make what they are writing facts but purely opinions on there behalf, I would like it if you put your opinions in and not someone else.

    Now back to the point, Italy was always going to be brought into the war they were always eyeing of British terroritory in North Africa and the Germans gave them a good ally to back them up on there expansion(which failed miserably anyway), now if the Italians didn't come into the war over the Territory they would have been brought into the war simly to bacl Germany in her quest for expansion hoping to gain some land through the Germans.
     
  4. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    Unlikely. Except for Russia, the rest have problems with geography. Let's say Italy does sell to the Germans trade that is otherwise blocked. That's fine until you hit whatever the British deem "war materials." As Britain controls access to the Mediterrainian it is all-to-easy for them to declare a blockade and by law of the sea and the laws of war they have the right to stop and search merchant ships entering the blockade zone.
    Knowing the Brits, they will push this every inch of the way they can and beyond likely really pissing off Italy in the process.

    This makes sense from a political stand point if you take a long term view to what's going on. Sit back let Germany either win or lose their war before taking action. Mussolini might have survived into the 60's much like Franco did.

    The loss of the Mediterrainian front works bigtime to German's benefit. As a land power they are now really faced with only two fronts: Britain and the US in the West as seapowers and Russia in the East as a land power. Of course, this in turn, works to Britain's advantage earlier in the war. They have no African front and can put more troops into the Far East, India and at home. The BoB is going to work more to their favor without the Italian "distraction."
    With more troops in Malaysia and India these might not fall to the Japanese. An extra division or two or a couple more tank brigades could have made a huge difference on the ground. Hurricanes and possibly even Spitfires would have helped in the air.

    Something to think about definitely.
     
  5. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    I always thought Mussolini told Hitler the Italians would not be ready for war until some 1942 to 1943 or even later period, and Hitler told there would be no war until then. And only when Germany beat France 1940 was Mussolini ready to enter war in June 1940 to take a part of the cake.

    One of the interesting points of politics between Italy and Germany in my opinion is during early 1940 when Mussolini wanted to help the Finns and Hitler stopped all the help going through Germany, and Benito definitely was angry about Germany´s pro-Soviet attitude and perhaps even more of stopping his deliveries getting through.I am looking for a book on this period on Italy´s and Germany´s political correspondence to see how inflamed the relations were at that point.
     
  6. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    I've read a Italian rather frothly or even angryly declare that this is what happned. The interferance with free trade and illegal actions by Perfidious Albion forced otherwise nuetral Italy into taking the Germans side. I cant say what the truth might be here.
     
  7. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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  8. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Aquila non capit muscas

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    Damn!
     
  9. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    Good finds there, JCF.
     
  10. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    Thanks Jeff :). I assume that B.E. was unaware that this particular subject has been brought up before and discussed quite a bit. The Search function is your friend :).
     
  11. Shangas

    Shangas Member

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    What if Italy had stayed neutral in WWII?

    Well the most obvious thing would be that Germany would be significantly weaker, having lost an ally. And I think that as the war progressed, Italy might have joined up with the Allies a lot sooner than it did (1943, I believe?), and this would have turned the tide sooner, possibly leading to a faster end to the war. Alternatively, even if it didn't join the allies, it still could have helped them, sending munitions and food and what-not, to England, and that would have helped the Brits hold themselves together better until the Yanks showed up in '41, '42.
     
  12. Tony Williams

    Tony Williams Member

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    An Italian friend of mine is writing a version of the The Foresight War, in which a modern Italian engineer wakes up in pre-WW2 Italy and convinces Mussolini of his credentials. I've read the first few chapters, in which Musso is determined to remain neutral, and I'm looking forward to reading the rest when he has time to translate them!

    It would have been very much in the UK's interest to keep Italy out of the war if possible, given the importance of shipping through the Med to reach Asia quickly.
     
  13. Shangas

    Shangas Member

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    I remember when Italy changed sides shortly after 1943, the Brits told them (either during or after this time) that Italy should have stayed on the side of the Allies from the beginning. I believe the Brits used the reason that Italy had been on the side of the Allies in WWI, and had won. Had they remained on the 'winning side' in the next war, they would have won again (which they did later, but they lost, first).
     
  14. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    I wonder how much distraction a Allied Italy would have been in 1940-41? These pro & cons for both sides. Better Italy remains nuetral as long as possible.
     
  15. AntiWank

    AntiWank Member

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    Well this will be Great for everyone, but Russia and possibly Japan.

    Italy makes a killing selling supplies to Hitler and Japan, which may even keep Japan from attacking depending on whether Mussolini's Ship building plan stays on task and doesn't bog down in red tape and graft. Even if it delays the Pacific War Six Months, that a big difference in American Fighting Power.

    How I see it. 1940 Mussolini doesn't invade Greece and get his Army defeated and humiliated. This in turn doesn't cause the Yugoslavia coup. Hitler in turn doesn't have to clean up Mussolini's Mess which in turn doesn't result in his Ju-52 force being trashed (the Airborne suffered more causalities in Holland than in Crete), this eases Logistics in Barbarossa. Two Panzer Divisions are not trashed in the Mountainous terrain along with half of Army Group South's Fuel reserves, so they can kick off their offensive on time.

    Earlier start to Barbarossa in Late May/Early June with Paratroopers landing behind Soviet Lines to secure Bridges and Ambush Soviet Supply Convoys along with other Mischief will enable even more Super Cannaes especially in the South, though its an open question whether the Wehrmacht takes Moscow or not though.

    Oversea Trade for Italy. Churchill can not afford to piss off Mussolini. Thats not to say Pirates can't deal with his Merchant Marine :pirate: There are many Pirates and sadly the RN can't catch them all...

    UK becomes irrelevant without the U.S. in and Hitler doesn't get the feeling of the U.S. being against him, so he isn't going to declare war on them.

    For the U.S. that means they don't lose over 400 ships to German Subs which means they can ramp up production faster and get that production to the Pacific Faster...

    Thats all the time I have signing out.
     
  16. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Aquila non capit muscas

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    What if my grandmother invented the dish-washing machine? Would Germany be able to start Barbarossa in April, allowing him to go after Vladivostok?
     
  17. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    No silly fool. Theres still the laudry to hang out on the line. You forgot to invent the mechanical clothes dryer. So sad you people dont thnk these things through...;)
     
  18. bf109 emil

    bf109 emil Member

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    India i believed never fell to the Japanese, an internal strife took place where Ghandi was reluctant to aid or assist Britain seeking abolishment of colonialism, but this was achieved and secured through the financial fall out of the British Empire, and through negative opinion within the United States to aid Britain unless terms or her grip on colonial territories where released after the war. Only then, when Britain's foreign assets where dwindled, and no chance of paying for arms was the lend-lease implimented to allow Britain to continue fighting. How great a country India, Malaysia, Palestine may have achieved or become, in comparison to the Thriving as did Hong Kong succeed with Britain aid in Politics, infrastructure, schooling, medicine...One still shakes it's head as to how the United Nations could vote and mandate the abolishment of Britains control over Palestine in 1947, leaving the country to wither on it's own into a third world country with no aid or support, yet rush munitions secretly to form or arm the state of Israel so as to gain country status...no wonder the arabs and the Palestinians oppose the western world...
     
  19. von_noobie

    von_noobie Member

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    If Italy stayed neutral in WWI?

    Well it would be of help to both Germany and the Allies.

    Axis Side:

    Lets face it, The Italian troops where more of a hindrance then help, With poor equipment, poor training and poor leadership. Not having to baby sit them would free up a sizable force. The Italians also slowed down German plans for Russia with the quest into Greece which was a drain on resources, equipment and troops and the loss of a safe trading partner as the Greek dictator Ioannis Metaxas was friendly towards Germany with both countries having healthy economic ties.

    While Germany probably would have been better off launching any invasion of Russia in '42 it didn't happen.. However launched in '41 with out Italian stuff ups needing to be cleaned up, The attack on Russia would have been launched sooner (I believe that it was delayed 6 weeks? However i don't recall if this is because of the Balkans campaign as a whole or just the Greek part of it.) Which could have made a huge difference in the area of capturing key cities, Moscow and possibly Leningrad. Moscow would be rather simple to isolate however Leningrad would be more difficult due to the terrain and small area, It would have been cut off of supplies, But it would take time or alot of casualties to take the city it's self. The capture of these two cities may not have served a big strategic victory as Hitler hoped but morally it would have boosted the German's and Crushed the Russian's, if only for a while.

    Allied Side:

    The British and Commonwealth forces would not have to worry about the Med and NA, With no naval engagements or land warfare there Army can build up with out suffering losses, And there full resources can be put to use protecting England. So simply it gives the British a relative break in the Mediterranean theater.

    As for the war in Japan, Even if Italy is neutral there is little they can do to aid the Japanese, Italy lacked sufficient capabilities to fuel there own fleet, And there Japaneses fleet was vastly bigger, So even if trade was set up it wouldn't be enough, Not even to prevent any attack on pearl Harbor being delayed a month. So the war in the Pacific would go ahead as history dictates, And any extra assets the British could contribute to it due to lack of operations in the Med/NA would not be able to arrive in time, And simply they wouldn't know how to field there assets well enough to fight the Japanese, The war in the Pacific was a learning curve, And took us some time and a lot of bodies to learn it. The best the British could do, Would be to use RN and RAF assets to assist Australian/American operations, Notably New Guinea, the Solomon's and Timor. Timor could have been secured with such support, As for New Guinea and the Solomon's, While the extra help probably wouldn't turn the tide over night, They would be much needed extra support. The one thing that prevented Australia making any noticeable contribution towards the march on japan was there lack of Heavy warships and Carriers, With such units from the RN they would be able to launch there own assaults, Starting with Timor, and using that as a FOB start to move forward.

    As for what may happen after that.. Well i dare not say until my current opinions have been debated and 'agreed' upon.

    Cheers, von_noobie.
     
  20. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    That seems a bit extreme. While not having to support various Italian efforts would mean the Africa Corp, more airborne troops, and more LW would have been available it would also mean that most of the Itaian forces that surved on the Eastern Front would not be. It's also not clear what the impact might be on say the Rummanians. Now I'm inclinded to beleive that having Italy as a "friendly neutral" would have probably been better than having her as an ally I don't think it is nearly as clear cut as you seem to imply.
    This has been if not discredited called to significant question. Due to the condition of the rivers and terrain launching an invaision earlier may have been even worse and indeed many state that it was the weather not the Italians which caused the delay.

    Allied Side:

    The British and Commonwealth forces would not have to worry about the Med and NA, With no naval engagements or land warfare there Army can build up with out suffering losses, And there full resources can be put to use protecting England. So simply it gives the British a relative break in the Mediterranean theater.[/quote]
    This could have a significant impact on both the uboats and the raiders as it frees up a fair number of both light and heavy vessels.
    If there is a carrier with POW and Repulse then there's a very good chance they make it to Singapore. What happens afterward is a good question but the British can send enough ships to make the Japanese at least a bit more cautious.
     
    knightdepaix likes this.

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