Talk:Military history of Italy during World War II

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One of the most interesting counterfactuals emerging in World War II history is what would have happened if Italy had been engaged earlier. The tantalizing prospect glimmers that if Britain and France had been able to declare war on Italy as well as Germany in 1939, Mussolini's house of cards could have been torn apart before Germany could have intervened [and German intervention itself would have been a distraction from the upcoming campaign in the West].

There is an even more compelling counterfactual: the British and French gave way to Italy in its Abyssinian adventure, partly, it seems, because they were genuinely impressed by the evident power of Fascist Italy. But it was a sham then, just as much as it was a sham later. One can argue that the history of the 20th Century would have been radically different [for the better] had Fascist Italy been suppressed in the middle of the 1930s.

From this counterfactual comes a significant question: we know now how feeble Italy was, but why did the military advisors of the day not realize this? The answers to this question have the potential to illuminate not only past history, but also many of the perplexing military questions we face today.

Well, everybody miscalculated the international situation in the years before the war. The British were paralysed by fear of the Italian Navy throughout the '30s, but they discounted the small and apparently weak German fleet: a serious error
Mussolini and Stalin also underestimated German power: they were expecting Germany vs. France/Britain to be another slow war of attrition which would take years to decide. If they had foreseen the rapid German victories of 1940 they would have stayed away from Hitler and supported the Allies.
And of course, Hitler in turn seriously miscalculated Russian power...
The lesson of the whole sorry episode is "expect the unexpected"
The reason France and Britain didn't move against Italy during the 30s is part military and part political. Military, it couldn't be known in advance that the British Matilda tanks would be so important in the African war against Italy and neither could the triumph of air power over the battleships be known beforehand. So even though Britain/France had clear advantage over Italy they still saw that they would need to pay a heavy cost in ships and resources to defeat her (the whole point of the Italian navy versus British and the French). If they'd attacked Italy in 1939, they would not only be launching a war of aggression against a neutral nation, but they would also have to gather much bigger forces to defeat the Italians in Africa (which would drain manpower from Europe) than was the case in Operation Compass were a British force defeated the Italians in spite of severe numerical inferiority that wasn't of the British choosing. The political reasons which have been lost in the post-WWII propganda of the allies as the altruistic saviors of mankind is that the French and British governments (if not their populations) prefered a fascist government in Italy (and Spain and Germany) over the leftist government that surely would've taken it's place had Mussolini been brought down, say by military defeat at the hands of the British over Abyssinia. It was this preference that gave the fascist governments such leeway during the 30s although it is generally forgetten. Even Churchill wrote at the time that he would want a Hitler to save Britain should Britain ever face the same ruin as Germany. --Sus scrofa 20:45, 29 January 2006 (UTC)

Speculations! Speculations! I think it's best just to concentrate on "what is" rather than "what could have been". Knowing "what is", is hard enough. If only Churchill developed gout earlier... .? If only the Russian winter hadn't been so severe...? AnnalesSchool (talk) 01:51, 10 May 2014 (UTC)


"However, on June 10, 1940, as Rommel reached the English Channel, ..."

1. German forces reached the English Channel, surrounding the French and British armies in northeast France and the low countries on May 20, 1940, not June 10. Indeed, by June 4 the Dunkirk evacuation was over and pocket had surrendered.

2. Rommel was only a division commander in the 1940 campaign, and his panzer division was NOT the one that reached the English Channel on May 20. If you want to attribute the reaching of the channel to a German commander, the appropriate person is Kluge, commander of Panzer Group Kluge and in control of the panzer forces that did reach the channel.

Pre War Naval Demonstration for Germany[edit]

Before Italy decalared war, there was a massive and highly complex set of naval demonstations performed with Hitler in attendance. I remember reading about something like 70 Submarines firing deck guns in formation, then submersing and surfacing in perfect formation. There was also some record-breaking fleet sail-past at something like 37 Knots. Does anyone know the details of this, and if so, should it be included in the article? --Zegoma beach 20:56, 31 March 2006 (UTC)

Tone and Citation Tags[edit]

I've taken out the Tone tag because I don't see what is wrong with the tone of this article and because I don't think it appropriate this tag should be added by an unidentified IP address. I feel the same way about the citation tag but will leave it pending debate. This article is a summary article and each section has an underlying 'Main article' in Wikipedia cited. The contents therefore summarise the underlying articles and don't need citations. If there is a problem with citations this should be addressed in the underlying articles. Stephen Kirrage talk - contribs 11:34, 14 March 2007 (UTC)

In the absence of any response to the above, I've taken out the unreferenced tag as well Stephen Kirrage talk - contribs 08:41, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

"and thus they have remained theoretically at war with each other up to the present time."[edit]

I must say, the notion that two states formerly at war that although for a long time now at peace have failed to agree a peace treaty somehow makes them still "theoretically" at war seems to me rather preposterous. There is no realistic sense, even theoretical, in which one can claim that Italy is still at war with Japan. (This is not even comparable to the two Koreas, which still have a significant military buildup targeted against each other, and in the case of which a return to hostilities is still conceivable -- Italy and Japan do not target each other militarily, and the thought of a resumption of hostilities between them is simply unimaginable.) It seems far saner to say that a peace treaty is not necessary to end a state of war (even a "theoretical" state of war), than to claim that Italy and Japan are still in any sense (however theoretical) at war. --SJK (talk) 08:50, 4 May 2008 (UTC)

Narrative must begin earlier[edit]

The history of Italy during the Second World War does not begin with the Nazi invasion of Poland nor with Mussolini's 10 June declaration. While I don't have the time to write this section now, I would hope someone would edit this piece to add Italy's invasions of Ethiopia (1935), Albania, and other territories, without which it is not really possible to understand Italy's position in 1939. Italy's irredentism and Mussolini's ideas about resurrecting a "Roman Empire" begin much earlier than Poland and should be reflected on this page. While Italy may not have been allied with Germany and fighting Britain and France right away, its actions in the Mediterranean and Red Sea were very much a part of the situation in Europe that led to war. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:37, 3 June 2008 (UTC)

Censoring by Nick Dowling[edit]

Who gives him the right to decide that the broadcasts by Radio Rome and Radio Berlin concerning the role of Axis forces are unreliable and of dubious nature. I'd hate to see him work for BBC. What has he got the mentality of a child?? Isn't it obvious that historians would've discovered by now that Radio Berlin and Radio Rome had got it all wrong, inventing units that didn't exist and placing them in wrong areas, and ofcourse, getting the dates, timing and weather all wrong when describing actions. Nick Dowling, get real, and have a read of the pages that deal with "Siege Of Tobruk", "Operation Brevity", "Operation Crusader", etcetera, to see that you got it all wrong mate. GENERALMESSE. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Generalmesse (talkcontribs) 03:25, 8 June 2008 (UTC)

I've responded at Talk:Italian participation in the Eastern Front and have reported you for incivility. Nick Dowling (talk) 06:19, 8 June 2008 (UTC)

Reputation of Italian fighting efficiency during World War II[edit]

This is a sensitive topic for some. From what I have learned, there are some that have essentially spammed and vandalised the page with unfounded bias and propaganda. There are some that have been battling the propaganda. Others have been constructive. Yet, there are some that are aware that this is a topic with a historical legacy of being incorrectly depicted and simply wish to get the facts out.

Further there are others who would not be aware that a ubiquitous number of books have dismissed the Italian involvement in the war. For them it may be difficult to believe as we inherently grew up to believe that non-fiction books are generally gospel. Well, even a technical text book or the most cutting–edge work is prone to mistakes. The whole premise of scientist/philosophical reporting is about constructive critique in order to build on what we currently know. There is plenty to warrant a reassessment of the reputation of Italian soldiers. Their memories are equally as worthy as those of the other participants. To not appraise their involvement based on facts is a disservice to them, and also denigrates those who fought bravely against them. It always cuts both ways.

I would hope that if anyone has any concerns regarding the content in this subsection that they present their arguments here. Lets work together, rather than against each other. Feel free to comment.

I will start with an excerpt to illustrate some of the relevant background, and provided justification for the subsection. This comes from relevant fragments form the first 3 pages of: Walker, Ian W. (2003). Iron Hulls, Iron Hearts; Mussolini's Elite Armoured Divisions in North Africa. Ramsbury: The Crowood Press. ISBN 1-86126-646-4. ;

In Britain and the wider English-speaking world almost everyone is familiar with the Desert War fought in North Africa between June 1940 and May 1943. They have all herd of the famous Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery and his 8th Army. They are equally familiar with his legendary opponent Field Marshall Erwin Rommel and his Deutches Africa Korps (DAK). The epic encounter between these two rivals an their two forces that took place at El Alamein is viewed as one of the key battles of World War II. There are countless book on the North African campaign, ranging in scope from academic studies of the grand strategies through to personal memoirs. In their entirety these works manage to touch on almost every conceivable aspect of the conflict.
In spite of this, I hope to offer an entirely different perspective on this familiar campaign of World War II. This will come form a focus on the hitherto neglected Italian involvement. In all previous accounts in English, the Italians have either been ignored completely or afforded little more than an acknowledgement of their presence – yet they made up the bulk of the axis forces involved in this campaign, a fact not yet reflected in existing accounts. They are sometimes allowed a place during the first phase of the campaign as Britain’s only opponents, but the arrival of Rommel in early 1941 quickly relegates them to obscurity thereafter.....In terms of their influence on fighting, however, they are usually dismissed in a few paragraphs that primarily concentrate on describing their many deficiencies. Thereafter, they are usually ignored.....In Britain pople are familiar with the war time propaganda images of endless lines of Italian prisoners...This strong visual image was reinforced by contemporary newsreel and newspaper accounts of Italian military incompetence and cowardice, often involving the use of racial stereotypes. This image was often deliberately contrasted with German military efficiency and ferocity. This produced a strong British prejudice against the Italians very early in the war, which has consistently been reinforced in most histories produced since its end....All this has left a powerful legacy in English-speaking accounts, in which the Italians are widely seen as a nation of dilettantes, devoid of military skills and entirely lacking courage. It high is time, however, that this view was re-examined to reveal what, if any, truth lies behind it. It is only by doing so that we will be able to assess what impact the Italians actually had on this campaign. ....The process really requires a complete re-evaluation of the Italian economy and the political and military systems......

I recommend this book as part of ones library to all who are interested in the North African campaign, in particular.

I’ll state now that I will reinsert verifiable statements that are deleted, within reason.

Romaioi (talk) 16:20, 4 July 2008 (UTC)

Reputation of Italian fighting efficiency during World War II (Again!)[edit]

There have been a number of edits recently giving examples of brave battalion actions. If the point of this section is to show that the "general" reputation of Italian fighting prowess was misrepresented during and immediately after the war, then citing a few individual battalion actions won't help. What we need is much broader evidence - opinions of allied generals, German generals and later historians - of which there is a convincing amount of in the article already. I'm tempted to go through this section and remove the "micro detail" (subject to any reaction here to this comment) which at present is swamping and in my opinion diluting the broader evidence. After all, at battalion level it's easy to quote just as many incidents where battalions made a poor showing. Stephen Kirrage talk - contribs 12:49, 5 August 2008 (UTC)

What has happened to this article, is cleary gangstarism on the part of noclador and others who refuses to admit that many Italian units fought well in North Africa. The fact that some Italian battalions overwhelmed their adversaries at Alemein is certainly the tip of the iceberg for these Italian successes were unknown in the post war literature in English-speaking countries, and have only just come to light thanks to some people who have dug deep. These fairly recent relevations should not be deleted like noclador has just done. This individual even had the nerve to remove references/evidence in the form of profesor Sadkovich and other authors who pointed out that the Italians played an important role and were mainly responsable for taking large numbers of prisoners in the battle of Alemein on 22nd and 27th of July. This is clearly ganstarism on his part and let me repeat, he has committed a sin according to the wikipedia rules by also removing a number of verifiable sources in the page about the first battle of Alemein that proved the Italians played an important part. This individual is guilty of perpetuating the myth about the Italians in North Africa like the first lot of writers (many of whom were biased or ill informed generals) in the English-speaking world. Reading that page about Alemein makes you believe the Italians played a ridiculously small part and the Germans did all the fighting while the Italians did all the surrendering. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:51, 6 August 2008 (UTC)

Are you perhaps GeneralMesse? Your abusive friend Noclador tried his darndest to invent proof that I was one of GeneralMesse's sockpuppets and hurled a lot of insults my way. I am still dealing with the outfall. You must have sparked something in him. If it is a big issue for you, you can raise it with the administrators as a WQA or ANI.
In deleting your inclusions Noclador has also vandalised some existing "concensus" information. It is yet another example of him not doing his homework properly. There is no need to state that an author is a professor or Dr. or whatever, the surname should suffice. Just please ensure that you cite what you include. I will undo Noclador's vandalism. But, with respect, I think that it needs some work. So I have commented out what I believe to be your contibutions for further consideration. They are still there.
"I agree with Stephen Kirrage. There is probably no need to include many battalion level actions. Those passages are more appropriate in campaign specific articles. The information that was there before your inclusions actually painted an accurate enough picture. The formatting of your included content was not consistent with the existing content. When you make a quote can you please format accordingly, i.e. as quote?
Romaioi (talk) 08:27, 6 August 2008 (UTC)

I don't normally respond to anonymous talk page entries but here I must defend noclador. As it currently stands, as Romaioi has pointed out, the section makes a convincing rebuttal of the "myth" using credible quotes from historians and generals. The micro-detail that has been removed in my view actually detracted from the argument by clogging the article up with unnecessary and confusing detail. Sourced or not this stuff already appears in other more specific articles anyway. The aggressive and POV tone of's comment does not help and is in itself contrary to the Wikipedia ethos. By using words like "gangsterism", "myth", "sin" and referring to sources as "biased or ill-informed" the editor above betrays his/her own POV stance which manifests itself in approving sources that align with a particular view and denigrating those that don't. NPOV is a cornerstone of Wikipedia and could do no better than revisiting the contents of Wikipedia:Neutral point of view and in particular the following:
2.5 Balance
NPOV weights viewpoints in proportion to their prominence. However, when reputable sources contradict one another and are relatively equal in prominence, the core of the NPOV policy is to let competing approaches exist on the same page: work for balance, that is: describe the opposing viewpoints according to reputability of the sources, and give precedence to those sources that have been the most successful in presenting facts in an equally balanced manner.
2.6 Impartial tone
Wikipedia describes disputes. Wikipedia does not engage in disputes. A neutral characterization of disputes requires presenting viewpoints with a consistently impartial tone, otherwise articles end up as partisan commentaries even while presenting all relevant points of view. Even where a topic is presented in terms of facts rather than opinions, inappropriate tone can be introduced through the way in which facts are selected, presented, or organized. Neutral articles are written with a tone that provides an unbiased, accurate, and proportionate representation of all positions included in the article. The tone of Wikipedia articles should be impartial, neither endorsing nor rejecting a particular point of view.
Stephen Kirrage talk - contribs 09:08, 6 August 2008 (UTC)
To the IP I would say that I agree entirely with Stephen Kirrage. Your edit was POV-motivated, did nothing to improve the article (indeed made it worse by cluttering it up with distracting detail), and noclador was entirely correct to RV it.
To Romaioi I'd say, yes, this IP probably is Generalmesse. But, in general, OK, you've made your point about noclador, now move on. Bearing grudges is unhelpful, and you should restrict yourself to commenting on the content, rather than other editors. AlasdairGreen27 (talk) 11:30, 6 August 2008 (UTC)
It would appear that the point is clearly not made seeing that Noclador has now accused me of being a sock of User:Brunodam over based on these comments here from this IP address. I cannot respect anyone who gives none and continues to make farcical accusations. Romaioi (talk) 14:40, 12 August 2008 (UTC)
noclador is quite a bully on the wiki editorial board who has already decided what can and cannot be written with regards to the Italian army in WWII. I would love to contribute but I'm afraid I'd be labelled a Nazi. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:26, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
Bruno, what are you doing? Have you forgotten that you are banned? AlasdairGreen27 (talk) 14:00, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
What ever you guys (IPs, socks, whatever) have done, the timing of your comments over the past couple of months have caused me no end of trouble here. I hold you guys equally as responsible as the idiot who keeps trying to frivolously link me with you. If you contributed properly this topic would not be so tarnished and my accuser might have actually been inclined to show some of the good faith he is now devoid of. Romaioi (talk) 07:01, 23 August 2008 (UTC)

What we need is much broader evidence, of allied, German generals and later historians (kirrages 05.08.08)[edit]

I was much suprised to find out that the Italian army defeated a number of Commonwealth units at Alamein. Of course that information is no longer visible, due to vandalism? I believe readers need to know about the successes at battalion-level of the Sabratha, Trieste and Trento at El Alamein. After all these battalions were representative of their divisions and the perception out there is that these divisions simply 'melted away in the fighting' but in reality these divisions rallied and indeed fought well. Sadkovich pointed this out and extracts from his work about the Italians at El Alamein, that were available for all to see in Wikepedia, have been removed by noclador who sees his work as an 'incovenient truth'. I have just pointed this out (as teresita100403) in the page about the First Battle of Alamein, that the Sabratha recovered her lost positions and that the Trento did the same in its sector, but I gather both edits will be removed by vandals in the disguise of editors. I say goodbye for now but encourage everybody, including noclador and his team of puppets to stop 'sweeping the truth under the carpet,' and to read the following extract(p.141-142)from World War II in Europe, Africa, and the Americas, with General Sources: A Handbook of Literature and Research(by Loyd E. Lee and Robin D. S. Higham, Greenwood Publishing Group, 1997,ISBN 0313293252):

Because many writers have uncritically repeated stereotypes shared by their sources, biases and prejudices have taken on the status of objective obervations, including the idea that the Germans and British were the only belligerents in the Mediterranean after Italian setbacks in early 1941. Sadkovich questioned this point of view in 'Of Myths and Men' and 'The Italian Navy', but persistent stereotypes, including that of the incompetent Italian, are well entrenched in the literature, from Puleston's early 'The Influence of Sea Power', to Gooch's 'Italian Military Incompetence,' to more recent publications by Mack Smith, Knox and Sullivan. Wartime bias in early British and American histories, which focused on German operations, dismissed Italian forces as inept and or unimportant, and viewed Germany as the pivotal power in Europe during the interwar period. For a discussion of this, see Sadkovich, 'Anglo-American Bias and the Italo-Greek War.
Bias includes both implicit assumptions, evident in Knox's title 'The Sources of Italy's Defeat in 1940: Bluff or Institutionalized Incompetence?' and the selective use of sources. Also see Sullivan's 'The Italian Armed Forces.' Sims, 'The Fighter Pilot,' ignored the Italians, while d'Este in 'World War II in the Meditaranean' shaped his reader's image of Italians by citing a German comment that Italy's surrender was 'the basest treachery' and by discussing Allied and German commanders but ignoring Messe, whose 'Come fini la guerra in Africa' is an account of operations in Tunisia, where he commanded the Italian First Army, which held off both the U.S. Second Corps and the British Eighth Army. Like Young, whose 'Rommel the Desert Fox' created the Rommel myth, authors can appear biased because they echo sources that reflect the prejudices and assumptions of the period. Indeed, many of our unconscious assumptions about the war have been shaped by documentaries like 'Victory at Sea', by sophisticated propaganda like Frank Capra's wartime 'Why We Fight' films, and by Hollywood films, television programs, and popular fiction in general. Dependence on non-Italian sources compromised Murray's analysis of the Italian military in 'The Change in the European Balance of Power', it led Van Creveld to conclude in 'Supplying War' that Italians were "useless ballast," and it caused Fraser, 'And We Shall Shock Them', to dimiss Graziani as an anxiety-ridden procrastinator but praised Wavell as a fearless problem solver. Liddel Hart's German sources led him to conclude in 'The Generals Talk' that "Italian jealousy of the Germans" had helped save Egypt. Such conclusions later lead Mearsheimer to question Liddell Hart's objectivity, though Liddell Hart's history of British 'Tanks' and his concise 'History of the Second World War' remain useful, as do Jackson's 'The Battle for North Africa' and Lewin's 'Rommel' and 'The Life and Death of the Afrika Corps'.
If stereotypes make it hard for readers of English to credit any acts of heroism or any display of competence or persistence by Italians, the official Italian service histories, De Felice, Faldella, and Sadkovich in works previously cited, have sought to set the record straight -- (talk) 03:58, 9 August 2008 (UTC)

Why is it that we never talk of the Littorio that fought as good as the Ariete.Never mind I have aggregated the lines required to tidy the page and also about what Napoleon thanked of the Italians. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:24, 14 August 2008 (UTC)

The problem with the "heroic" italian units, is that they are nothing near the big shadow of incompetence and failures. Italy was unable to control the Mediterranean, even with a bigger navy. They failed to conquer the Balkans. Failed to see Malta as a vital point in the Africa war.They failed even to HOLD their Africa colonies. They even failed to use Tobruk as a supply port. In the large scope, Italy was useless as an ally. But yes, they had heroic units, most of them under Rommel's command, but they are flickers of light in a big darkness. - PHW. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:22, 19 November 2008 (UTC)

four - six -seven[edit]

Hi, regarding 4 or 6 or 7 divisions: I was confused by "four seven divisions" so I looked at Italian invasion of Egypt article were it states that 6 divisions were involved (see footnote 5) - namely:

  • 1st Libyan Colonial Infantry Division
  • 2nd Libyan Colonial Infantry Division
  • Cirene Infantry Division
  • Marmarica Infantry Division
  • 1st Blackshirt Infantry Division
  • 2nd Blackshirt Infantry Division
  • and the Maletti Group

the footnote also states "other than the 1st Blackshirt, the other three appear to have hung back" - so three advanced and three hung back; yet the text contradicts this and states "Slowly the mass of four Italian divisions marched through the (Halfaya) pass..." hmm,... your quote states "with four divisions and one armoured group crossing the border." all together I assume that four is the correct number of divisions crossing the border with two in reserve... what I know for sure is that the 1st Libyan, 2nd Libyan, 1st Blackshirt and Maletti Group entered Egypt - do you have any idea which was the fourth division to participate in the invasion of Egypt? --noclador (talk) 03:17, 2 January 2009 (UTC)

Hi, The use of “seven” was a typo stemming from my initial inclination to base the number of division’s (or more specifically, distinguishable units) on the numbers from the Italian invasion of Egypt page (apart from that I haven’t yet looked at that article in detail yet, but the similarities you point out are promising in regards to Bauer’s comments). However I have noticed that numbers displayed in the summary boxes sometimes state the ultimate numbers involved rather than, say, initial numbers. The summary strength numbers for the Greco-Italian War, where 529,000 Italians are said to have partaken, when the initial force was around 8 divisions strong and the actual numbers at the front were, most of the time, less than those of the opposing forces, is the main one that springs to mind. Such summary stats don't always reflect the circumstances. So I thought it more prudent to stick with what the reference states.
Though, as you indirectly pointed out here. Books are not infallible. But Bauer’s has proven to be quite reliable over the years.
In terms of the fourth division, Bauer (p. 113) mentions that the “Cirene” division was dug in 20 miles west of Nibeiwa. So we can conclude that the 4th division was the Cirene. Would you like me to ammend the footnote?Romaioi (talk) 05:44, 2 January 2009 (UTC)
oh, the Greco-Italian War page,.... all the numbers there are wrong (especially Italian losses are wrong) anyway - as for this article please amend the footnote with the names of the 4 div. - and than the article is fine with me :-) --noclador (talk) 22:46, 2 January 2009 (UTC)
by this page, you mean the footnote on Italian invasion of Egypt right? Romaioi (talk) 01:09, 3 January 2009 (UTC)

1940 or 1941[edit]

Is the first map of 1940 or 1941? I am adding the image to Italian Unification as 1940, per the file's title. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:28, 31 March 2009 (UTC)

I think it's 1941 since the Italian area extends halfway into British-controlled Egypt.--Sus scrofa (talk) 02:46, 31 March 2009 (UTC)
No, it must be 1940. In 1940 the Italians advanced well into Egypt to Sidi barrani but in 1941 the Axis advance past Tobruk halted more or less on the Egyptian border. Stephen Kirrage talk - contribs 09:20, 31 March 2009 (UTC)
Yeah, sorry, you're right. I got my dates mixed up.--Sus scrofa (talk) 14:19, 31 March 2009 (UTC)

1939 or 1940[edit]

Since you guys seem to know about this subject, File:Italian empire 1940.PNG in (Kingdom of Italy (1861–1946)#Foreign and colonial policy (1922-1946)). This file I labeled 1939 in Italian Unification. If it is 1940, the month, or at least the season, of both this file and the previous should be known. Otherwise, having two 1940 maps might seem redundant.-- (talk) 00:36, 1 April 2009 (UTC)

Benito Mussolini also says 1939.-- (talk) 00:39, 1 April 2009 (UTC)

Reputation of Italian Fighting in World War 2 needs some work[edit]

My problem with the section now is that it sounds like someone fighting a ghost. There's very little angled towards why or even if the Italians have a bad reputation, and a whole lot of why that is dead wrong. If you don't establish exactly how bad the perception of the Italians are, all this stuff basically sounds like a commercial for the World War II Italian military, which is incredibly silly. If it's not established, the particular military action where they had some success could be mentioned elsewhere as part of just their actions. Am I alone in this? --DeviantCharles (talk) 08:10, 17 July 2009 (UTC)

I agree with you. --Sus scrofa (talk) 20:05, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
I have to agree, the guy that started this nonsense was eventually blocked for multiple sock puppet accounts and meat puppetry. Its just plain foolish if you want my honest opinion. I'd like to see it removed. Justin talk 20:14, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
I believe the section is well referenced and done and must remain, because wikipedia is an encyclopedia and must have all the areas concerning an article. And the "Reputation of Italian Fighting in World War 2" is one of the areas of the Military History of Italy in WWII. We all know how "bad the perception of the Italians" is in WWII, just read most books or magazines about the topic. Let's be honest about this fact, created mainly by propaganda. Wikipedia needs to "balance" these negative opinions to achieve NPOV, and this is the reason for the section.--Stewtired (talk) 03:29, 7 September 2009 (UTC)
I agree with Stewtired. The section must remain, because Wiki needs to balance many negative opinions of the Italians during WWII in order to get a real NPOV. Furthermore, I want to remember that user:Romaioi, "the guy that started this nonsense" as posted by Justin, was not involved in sockpuppetry and is a serious contributor to Wikipedia.Mike R. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:23, 7 September 2009 (UTC)

This section needs to stay for reasons clearly outlined above (here). Much of the published history on this topic is subject to (or based on) an unbalanced amount of propaganda, so an attempt to disseminate between fact and the rest is warranted. However, I believe DeviantCharles is correct in saying that this section needs work. About a year ago I started writing something along the style of my edits for the initial section of the article (Outbreak of World War II) - note that the edits there worked in with content previously written by others rather than destroy their contributions (which also results in a longer research & writing process, for me anyway) - to address the causes of resulting perception. But I became busy and ran out of energy before I could get it to that standard (anything less resulted in personal attacks) - so it remains unfinished. I will eventually finish it, but it could be a while. Irrespective, the current content is sufficiently/amply referenced so it should remain - it just needs copy editing and words that provide the appropriate perspective. Deletion of verifiable referenced material really is not acceptable. In the meantime, if you have an issue with the section, why not help try to improve it? Romaioi (talk) 15:38, 2 February 2010 (UTC)

I've just read this article for the first time today, and read through the discussion above about this section. Coming fresh to the subject, I felt the section as is reads a little bit too much like a spirited defence of the Italian forces, which could be considered POV. I certainly read it for the first time and thought "Blimey, someone's got a bee in their bonnet about that one!". I wonder if I might make a suggestion - would it work to have the examples of specific instances of Italian military merit and praise from Allied commanders included under the sections of the main article dealing with the campaign/battle in which it occurred? So you might talk about the Battle of Keren in Campaigns in East Africa 1940-41, for instance. Then the "Reputation" section which has seen so much controversy could be reduced to a discussion of Allied propaganda efforts and their lingering effects on public consciousness? It's just a thought, and it might not work. I have no problem with the contents of the "Reputation" section, (mostly) well-sourced, relevant and notable, but putting it all together in the same place like that potentially makes a POV statement in its own right. If a reader were to read the article, gain a balanced view of the defeats and victories of the Italian forces, and then read about the propaganda, it might come off better IMHO. Brickie (talk) 16:51, 21 May 2010 (UTC)
I have just read this article for the first time; As a previously uninvolved editor, I feel that while it is probably not the best choice to remove this section altogether, it needs some major overhauling. Seriously, the POV is so blatant this section would be more appropriately retitled something like "Why the bad reputation of Italians fighting in WW2 is unjust". Like DeviantCharles said, even if they are all true, there should at least be something about exactly how bad their reputation was. I honestly don't know enough about this to do the work myself - placing a pov tag on this section. Blodance the Seeker 22:09, 16 March 2012 (UTC)
Hi Blodance and apologies for the length,
I think the first three paragraphs (and accompanying notes), which admittedly are mainly my contribution, largely addresses the “why”. There are ample citations to support those paragraphs. They were the start of an attempt to contribute to an overhaul (but as usual we get busy with other things that must take priority). I’m guessing the “undue” tag from January is due to the long list of quoted comments below those introductory paragraphs?
In terms of additional background, there is a quoted section from one recent historical work that articulates this issue well and succinctly on the Anti-Italianism page, specifically here. Lets call a spade a spade: the majority of historical works (until recently) have been strongly influenced by the Germano-Anglo-American prejudicial attitudes of several eras toward Italians (confirmed by several more recent non-Italian authored works). This has influenced popular perception (in the baby boomer generations of the Anglo-sphere at least) to this very day. I will give you a couple of examples:
  • During the Costa Concordia disaster one Australian survivor from my home city was content to generalise a rush of male passengers heading for the life boats as “young Italian men, the gutless bastards”. There is a lot that can be discussed about this point – e.g. many other Australians could infer from the gentleman’s photo and comments that he himself was a certain type of character that wouldn’t be able to discern between languages and race – but the subtleties of the news article are discussed in the following blog: Aussie Heros, Gutless Everyone Else (I’m not he author). What we have here is a newspaper that was happy to publish one mans racist comments, which prompted anti-Italian racism with several references to WWII in the accompanying reader comments (in a country where being racist towards some ethnic groups is a criminal offence). A later article suggests that many people getting onto the lifeboats in the manner described by my fellow countryman were not Italian, but the comments were made, accepted as fact, and more reputational damage has now been done.
  • There is a recent best selling “historical” book entitled Tobruk by an Australian author/ex-rugby player named Peter Fitzsimons, who is known for his poetic and parochial narration (both in first and third person). My view is that Fitzsimons is not anti-Italian, but his book epitomizes the bias in the historiography. Case in point: in his acknowledgements he points out that his research was conducted in Australia, Britain and Germany, where he also interviewed soldiers - yet he neglected to visit the country which provided the most troops and supplies on the Axis side. This did not stop him from inventing first person narrative from an Ariete tanker named Mario.
    • One further sub-example: Fitzsimons took care to describe the positions of the combatants around Tobruk by nation, however he oddly credits the fire originating from the Italian positions as being German. The reader could be forgiven for generally thinking that all the Italians seamed to do was surrender, die, and fall off their motorcycles (ibid). He even managed to incorrectly refer to the German army as having fought in Eritrea. Rommel’s son liked the book – he endorsed it with its Forward.
If history is supposed to be about facts and truth, then that’s why this section is important and needs to stay, even it takes forever to get it right. (It is a topic that is difficult to portray NPOV and the editors are constantly battling socks and wiki-vandals etc, which I guess makes it more sensitive.) The fact that the historiography has itself obscured the facts and negatively influenced popular opinion (“George Costanza” would be proud) also requires addressing. Romaioi (talk) 03:12, 20 April 2012 (UTC)
Further to last, I just added some content (will add more supporting citations when I get time to dig them up) and rolled some of the material from below the new temporay subheading into it. It was a little rushed so the grammar may need checking. My suggestion is that the discussion be developed along the lines of whats been initated, with the "quotations on performance" rolled up into footnotes where appropriate. I know I have used them a lot here but they are I find them useful for including relevant info whilst minimising disruption to a sections flow. My thinking is that the section will ultimately read like the Outbreak of World War II section. Any thoughts? Sincerely, Romaioi (talk) 05:11, 20 April 2012 (UTC)
Just did some of the suggested rolling up of footnotes into the structure of the discussion and added a first pass conclusion. Will look at rolling up more of whats under the temporary sub heading in the near future. Hopefully we will end up with a much shorter section. Romaioi (talk) 01:41, 22 April 2012 (UTC)
The problem with this section is not that it is not true, not well-sourced, etc. I think you misunderstood my comment - I'll try to explain. The problem is not that it did not address the "why", but rather it addressed only the "why". An article/a section about a topic (and especially a "controversy", as the section is now titled) needs opinions arguing both for and against it to be neutral, or at least that is my interpretation of Wikipedia's principles about NPOV. Right now there's only opinions arguing for the reputation of the Italians. The other side is completely lacking. That is pretty much never going to be NPOV, no matter how correct/well-sourced it is. What we need is some opinion arguing against - especially since we can agree that the majority of historical works are not portraying the Italians in a positive light. It is anything but a fringe opinion. It warrants mentioning, no matter how wrong it might be. I hope that explained my opinion on this topic. Blodance the Seeker 03:04, 23 April 2012 (UTC)

Hi again! Ok, maybe I'm too close to the topic, but I hope this addresses your concerns in some way. I thought the undertone of the restructured section is that there is a trend literature whereby Italian involvement is being assessed more thoroughly with more balanced information being offered. Given that some early works have also provided balanced assessments (e.g Wilmott, Bauer) and that officially sponsored histories directly comment that propaganda has influenced the histories, I think it’s hardly a fringe view. I doubt it’s a fringe view in Italy (I struggle to read Italian so rely exclusively on English texts, so cannot say for sure). The objective was as per Stetired’s comments – whilst written from the Italian POV as objectively as possible, it is a counterweight to what is commonly perceived.

The section does, through the footnotes, provide examples of what has been said in the histories. I feel that if we elaborate on the opposing viewpoint this would become a much larger section. That being said, I thought of a sentence that could be added (will insert), and if anyone else has ideas for content, please contribute.

The opposing view is pretty simple: "The Italians were woefully unprepared (true) they attacked the French, British and the Greeks (rarely mentioned, as are Russia and East Africa) ran from the field against much smaller opposition, then the Germans stepped in and took over, following which the Italians either didn't participate or comically got in the way." (Honestly, given my closeness to the subject, I’m not sure how best to present a serious version of this. But does it really need stating?) Rarely is justification for such asserstions offered in texts purporting this view - they are simply stated as fact to deal with it quickly. When a text has so much detail in other areas why question such a seamingly minor component? Trace the reference trail and where does it lead? But if a text cannot be consistent in the "facts" they present (as per the example) shouldn't it be questioned? When texts fail to mention the mere presence of the largest contingent do they deserve serious consideration?

I believe there is more to the why (partly my view so not acceptable in the article):

  1. Some authors were prone to not accept Italian versions of events
  2. Either the Italians did not always adequatley document the course of events OR documentation was lost during the civil war - and post-war Italy was happy to distance itself from its recent past
  3. Given the respect for German military organisation their version of events were accepted as representative of all the Axis. Yet given German predispositions, they were not willing to acknowledge Italian contributions (and most likely those of other axis partners).
  4. Then of course there is human nature in seeking the path of least resistance. Sure historians want to do the best job possible, but with copious information available from the English and German sources and Italian sources hard to come by, you rely on what you have and trust. Maybe it was simply too hard to fact check, maybe prejudices persuade you there is no need. (I don’t think what I am alluding to is very sensationalist as a dearth of thoroughness on one matter or another is common in all industries - its sometimes not phyically possible at that point in time. I worked as a research scientist for over ten years and it was certainly observed there – in the institutions and in peer reviewed papers.) And of course, later work builds on that which preceded it. During my research career "errors" propagated from paper to paper over a 50 year period purely because the authors simply assumed it was right were repeatedly observed. I'd be surprised if the same did not apply to historiography. One of the themes that was repeated to me during my uni years was "just because it is in a text book, doesn't make it right." But those errors can greatly influence people.

Sincerely, Romaioi (talk) 15:35, 24 April 2012 (UTC)


Incidentally, When I say "(mostly) well-sourced", two things puzzled me - in the box-off about the Folgore division (the existence of which seemed odd in itself to me), two quotes are given that are not only unsourced but actively disparaged in the text:

Winston Churchill speech to the Chamber, Nov. 21 1942:"We really must bow in front of the rest of those who have been the lions of the Folgore Division" It should be noted, however, that the source of this statement has not been identified and that the House of Commons didn't even sit on 21 November 1942.[3]

BBC, Dec. 3rd 1942:" The last survivors of Folgore have been gathered without forces in the desert, none of them surrendered, no one left his weapon" This doesn't even make sense in English so is probably false as well.

I'm not sure why a user would add comments to the effect that the information is "probably false" rather than just deleting it or at the very least putting a [citation needed] against it... Brickie (talk) 16:57, 21 May 2010 (UTC)

After reading the above statement by Brickie I went to check for any source to confirm the speech done by Churchill about the Folgore division and found out the following:
  • There was no session of the British parliament on Nov. 21 1942
  • the Folgore is not mentioned in a single debatte/session of the British parliament ever! [1]
  • Churchill did not mention the Folgore in any of his speeches in parliamnet in 1942 [2]
  • the Italian Armys official homepage does not mention this quote of Churchill neither in the history article about the Folgore[3] nor in the article about the Battle of El Alamein[4]
therefore I removed the entry as it is most likely as the Stalin-Alpini quote a fabrication, noclador (talk) 18:38, 21 May 2010 (UTC)
I totally agree with you: unreferenced quotes should be eliminated. But I do not think it is an fabrication, that quote is widely known in Italy. --Enok (talk) 11:30, 7 September 2010 (UTC)
I know, that the quote is widely known in Italy - but it does not make it true. Probably it is a legend that - after much repeating - now seems to be the truth, when in fact no source for it in English and from England can be found. noclador (talk) 04:06, 11 September 2010 (UTC)
No source from England? It would be strange otherwise. However, from what I read about, that sentence should be spoken in radio, and not in British parliament (?). --Enok (talk) 13:09, 11 September 2010 (UTC)
The quote "Play it again, Sam" from Casablanca is widely known in Britain, despite not actually appearing in the movie ... I've never heard of this quote from Churchill about the Folgore, but that doesn't necessarily mean anything. As a historian further up the talk file comments, the British have tended to disparage or completely ignore the Italian army in World War 2, so it's entirely possible that something like that might be forgotten about here. I'm not convinced about it though - I'm not aware of any other instances off the top of my head of Churchill praising the bravery of the enemy forces while the war was still going on, and it would seem especially odd if you consider the general British policy of presenting the Italians as comedy strutting buffoons. Until someone produces some official transcript, I'll remain to be convinced - everything Churchill said on the radio is surely transcribed somewhere by the BBC... Brickie (talk) 16:16, 21 September 2010 (UTC)

That Churchill ever said anything along the lines of this "Lions of the Folgore" stuff is an old urban myth to be found only on far-right Italian websites. He made no mention of them, nor was there any reason for him ever to have done. I myself removed this silliness from this article in June. There is no substance to this daft story. AlasdairGreen27 (talk) 22:42, 21 September 2010 (UTC)

Reputation of Italian fighting efficiency during World War II (Yet Again!)[edit]

I note the recent efforts of Romaioi to consolidate and shorten the above section. The issue is that the detail is out of balance with the rest of the article which is in nature a summary. Taking all the detail down into footnotes does not appear to me to be satisfactory: it just makes it difficult to read. I would suggest that the best solution is to restrict the section to solely the existing first paragraph and to put the rest into a new article titled "Reputation of Italian fighting efficiency during World War II " linked with a {{Main|Reputation of Italian fighting efficiency during World War II}} at the head of the section (reflecting the layout of many of the other sections of this article). Stephen Kirrage talk - contribs 10:38, 30 April 2012 (UTC)

I'd be up for that. The main issue would be 'sock' control. Anyone else happy with this suggested course? Would be happy to start the article, perhaps in several weeks time following some further input. Would be keen to also discuss a shorter section title, the current one was a compromise. Sincerely Romaioi (talk) 13:52, 30 April 2012 (UTC)
So instead of commentry/suggestions we get get vandalism by which has almost completely reverted the section (and others) in one edit. Now too many edits have passed such that the undo function does not work and reversion can only occur mannually. Romaioi (talk) 12:50, 4 July 2012 (UTC)

Cowardice vs. ineffectiveness[edit]

Oh boy this section again. Aside from the fact it's still dueling with phantoms - it should at least set out, with quotes, the "traditional" scholarship this section is attempting to refute in more than just the footnotes - this section is conflating two quite separate issues: Whether the individual Italian soldiers fought bravely or not, and whether the Italian armed forces as a whole were effective. It is quite compatible to say that Italian forces were largely ineffective in the war, but individual Italians fought bravely!

The section starts off by raising the "traditional" point as being one of effectiveness - "Controversy on the reputation of Italian fighting efficiency", "Allied press reports of Italian military prowess," "the actions of the Italians have been largely ignored or distorted as a result," etc. Yet most of the comments afterward focus on Italian courage despite bad equipment, poor coordination with Germany, bad supplies, bad leadership, etc. But all of these are real problems as far as army effectiveness! It's not like they don't "count" somehow, having better preparation / logistics / equipment / leadership are real assets for an army. It DOES reflect poorly on 1940 Italy that they can start an unprovoked war of aggression against Greece because Mussolini was jealous of Hitler or the like, and then utterly fail in their own war of choice; that's a terrific failure in high command to not be prepared properly. The "reputation of Italian military prowess" deservedly should take a black mark for that (and the Greek war section in fact already weirdly praises the Italian soldiers as "martyrs..." I know what they're getting at, but that still seems a bit TOO nice to an invading force).

Anyway, I feel that this section should clearly differentiate these two issues; if Italians fought bravely in North Africa yet were defeated anyway because of poor equipment, they still weren't overly effective. Flip side, the reputation for cowardice should be squarely addressed rather than hid in the footnotes, and that can be refuted with the current material, but making it clear that is solely concerning the individual Italian soldiers. SnowFire (talk) 18:02, 23 November 2012 (UTC)

This section doesn't seem right to me either and I'm going to add a tag to try and flag down an expert on Italian military history to check the accuracy of the information, specifically in this section and also the article over all. The same style of wordy footnotes (which in turn contain references, which makes the text harder to edit) that casts the Italians in a better light is found earlier in the article, and I believe they were added by the same editor (for instance the footnote currently label "nb 8" under "Nazi successes and the decision to intervene" where you have a short sentence followed by a longer segment of text in the footnote arguing against the previous point, that Mussolini launched an unprovoked war of aggression). Not saying they are incorrect because of the style or that they aren't NPOV but I have to wonder about the credibility of the information, they seem written as if the editor knows the information would be booted from the article if they were in the article proper instead of in footnotes.
I looked over the "Controversy on the reputation of Italian fighting efficiency during World War II" (that's one hell of mealy-mouthed title, btw) and the things that jumped out at me were:
  1. Part of the sentence that begins "Compounded by the racist attitudes of the period that have been perpetuated in the historiography," with footnote currently label "nb 11", cites two example of "racist / dismissive" judgement of the Italians, but a) there's no racism ("chicken" isn't a racist slur against Italians as it is a common term to describe someone as a coward) b) the editor seems to have engaged in original research as the examples seems to be picked by him (the proper way is to cite a source holding these quotes up to be typical of the attitude of the scholarship on this question).
  2. The next part of the sentence "the actions of the Italians have been largely ignored or distorted" is followed by footnote "nb 12" that starts of by quoting David Irvings Trail of the Fox. That is in my view a sop to the credibility of this claim, although this book was written before Irving's fall from grace and doesn't cover the Holocaust. It's my belief that Irving should only be cited if he is his work is referred to in another reliable source, feel free to pipe in if you know otherwise.
  3. The text "However, the circumstances which lead to Italy's plight and distorted historiographical perception are far more convoluted than these universally acknowledged factors suggest. For example, lack of planning stems partly from the nation facing a wide range of continually changing strategic threats on every front since the 1920s and 1930s, such as France and Yugoslavia, Bolshevism, Greece, Britain via the Middle East, and even Germany, which Italy stood against alone in 1934. Each of these threats required completely different contingencies, resources, and a degree of time commitment to planning that the circumstances did not permit. This was compounded by Mussolini assigning unqualified political favourites to key positions." is not cited at all.
  4. The sentence "Moreover, first hand British/Commonwealth accounts during the period frequently contrast with the assertions of cowardice. One account by an Australian Battery Sergeant Major during the 10th Army's destruction was as follows:" The problem with first hand accounts is that they are primary sources and unless held up by a reliable source as accurate they shouldn't be quoted in isolation as one could easily cherry-pick quote favoring one's own point of view. Does the citation "Joseph (2009)" do this is what I'm asking.
  5. Citation currently number 107 cites "Spagnoletti, Gian. "The Rise and Fall of Italian East Africa and the Battle of Keren". Commando Supremo: Italy at War website. Retrieved 17 June 2008." I don't think Spagnoletti is a published scholar on the subject, and the Commando Supremo seems to be written by amateur historians. Prove me wrong.
  6. Citation 108 " Brett-James, Antony (1951). Ball of fire - The Fifth Indian Division in the Second World War. Gale & Polden. Chapter V" Old book, written by an ex-British Army man. Does it represent the view of the current scholarship? Is the author writing to glorify the actions of the Fifth Indian Division? The reason for portraying the Italians as cowards is obvious, we also have the opposite problem. When the fighting is over, there is an interest in boosting the accomplishments of the own side by emphasizing the fighting prowess of the enemy. "So you fought against the Italians in the war? I heard they were all pushovers!" etc. Again, one might cherry pick incidents were the Italians did better than average to give a wrong impression of the unfolding of the events. Eastern Epic (1951) by Mackenzie is also old, and might be out of date. According to footnote "nb 14" Eastern Epic was an official history of the British Indian army, again bringing up POV, primary and self-glorification issues. I also wonders how prevalent the idea of the Italians soldiers being cowardly/incompetent was if one can find British sources as written close to the war as 1951 stating the opposite (including official one).
  7. Footnote "nb 15". Will the real Erwin Rommel please stand up? So what it's going to be? Did Rommel think that the Italians sucked or did he think they "impressed" even the German soldier as quoted here? Cherry picked or no? Inquiring minds want to know. Citation 114 in this footnote is from ""El Alamein 2" (in in Italian). Ardito2000 website. Retrieved 19 July 2009.", which seems to be a hobby historian website.
  8. "nb 17" and citation 116. So the Germans thought the Italians were awful, but they also praised the bravery of the Italians? What is it? (Not the film by Crispin Glover) Seems like a contradiction to me. Citation 116 was also written by German officers that fought in the Desert War (primary source concerns) and it is also from 1947 and might be outdated. The source German Experiences in Desert Warfare During World War II, Volume II is linked to a pdf hosted on the which seems to be some sort of conspiracy theory web site, again, credibility issues.
  9. "nb 17": "Whilst there are too many cases [of Italian gunners not surrendering] to detail" A pretty tall order, and uncited. It seems like original research to pick a few examples and then state that there are too many detail without attribution. The gunners might also not realize that they were being overrun, but that's neither here nor there. Citation 130 "De Felice, p.115" does not appear in the references list, and citation 121 is from the Commando Supremo website (see above).
  10. Citation 122 "Wilmott (1944)". Unknown work, written during the war (lack of access to modern sources under war-time pressures and censorship), might be outdated, again gives lie to the idea that the common picture is one of Italian cowardice.
  11. Citations 123 to 125 just say "ibid." indicating that they come from some other article, because the ibid in this case is "Wilmott (1944)" that can't be the "more recent scholarship" that is talked about in the text.
  12. "nb 18": "At the end of the Second Battle of El Alamein on 4 November 1942, the Ariete division was able to fight a dramatic day-long rear-guard action to prevent the Allies from encircling the bulk of the retreating Axis armoured formations.[126] Whilst both German and Allied records leave the impression that the Ariete voluntarily immolated itself, Walker,[127] points out that remnants were successfully able to disengage, as they later, with elements of the Centauro division on 12 December, successfully fended off further Allied armoured attacks to the rear of the Axis forces." "Whilst both German and Allied records leave the impression that the Ariete voluntarily immolated itself"? Is this original research or in the source? "Remnants" indicates that the Italians were in fact soundly beaten, but the text is written like it is making excuses for the Italian defeat.
For these enumerated reasons I believe there is cause for a closer look at this section in particular, and also the article in general. I also want to note that the theme of the heroic front line soldier who can do no wrong, and always fights bravely in spite of being stabbed in the back by feckless generals and politicians is a common fascist story, which in my mind raises suspicions about the veracity of this narrative. I would think the same of any account that seem to conform to closely to the ideal; say for instance an account of heroic Soviet model workers raising the level of tank production just in time to save the motherland from the Germans.
This is from this section alone, and I don't know the literature enough to know who is a respected scholar or not (though even I can spot Irving in the crowd), so I can only repeat that this article needs a once-over.--Sus scrofa (talk) 21:37, 23 November 2012 (UTC)
With all due respect (because I believe you both make these points in good faith): Are you more so attacking an editor’s attempts to consolidate what was a messy section or are you simply concerned that the content does not reflect your perceptions? You've made several claims of original research. I'm the editor who contributed some of that content you refer to. That content was taken directly from the texts that I cited. Would you like me to type out reams of verbatim text form those sources to show you? Publications such as Walker, Bauer, Sadkovich, O'Hara, Keegan and Corelli Barnett (i.e. the ones I used - I have most in my possession) are readily available. I'd be surprised if I am the only person to have read them.
I am the part-time editor who recently attempted to consolidate the section (with little assistance - even after I requested it) and whilst I can't vouch some of the sources (and I agree with some of your points) I took care not to delete citations of others, regardless of my views on them (even the Mussolini Churchill conspiracy in the top section, which I don't buy even though Giuseppe Garibaldi was bona-fide reporter).
You criticized some of the styling, and manner sources were quoted. Well are we to write a quote for every single historians statement? And given that much of the styling that was criticized comes from Sadkovich (which I have in Pdf and can send to you), a source that was actually peer reviewed (being a journal article) why is it such a big issue for you?
Sadkovich also puts the traditional scholarship into context, that is why it is referenced in relation to do many of the other cited sources (hence their inclusion) - again, readily available sources - all Anglo-American sources by the way. If we include more direct statements from the 'traditional view' they we make the section even longer. I do think, as per recent conversations, that this section would be best placed under a standalone article with a better name. However, I have refrained from starting it due to no feedback and cannot police it against sock's alone (as I believe they could rapidly turn it into a circus).
You also criticized a passage for not being cited. This section/article is one of the most densely cited on Wikipedia. Exactly how many references are needed? I have had to cite almost every sentence I included here (again, from readily available sources). Yet there are entire pages of uncited content elsewhere, in large numbers, that remain unchallenged.
Also. Why are we criticizing citations based on age? If we start eliminating based on that criteria, we start looking revisionist.
I don’t think the section is fighting at ghosts. My hope is that it is simply factual in elucidating issues with the historiography. But I do think there are issues with propaganda making its way into historiography pertaining to the theatre, not just in relation to the Axis. Corelli Barnett addressed it with respect to the British POV. As an aside, I personally have always thought Auchenlick to be underrated and O'Connor to be the most brilliant general of the theatre. Romaioi (talk) 06:50, 30 November 2012 (UTC)
@Romaioi: Do you have any comments with regards to my criticisms? I believe they mostly stand. The article is vague on the "traditional" stance it claims to refute at the moment, and is still pulling the bait-and-switch where much of the "refuting" commentary focuses on the bravery of individual Italian soldiers, a matter quite distinct from the "effectiveness" of the Italian military.
I do agree that spinning this section off into its own article would be a POV-magnet disaster, so best keep it here. Agree we can't directly quote every side, either; maybe the section requires even more pruning, even if means deleting some referenced content, so as not to place undue influence on the "Italian soldiers are brave badasses" angle.
Also, unrelated, but if this whole Mussolini - Churchill thing is a pack of lies, Wikipedia should report as much and not give so much space - dismiss it in a single sentence. Not even sure this is the proper place for it anyway. SnowFire (talk) 01:44, 1 December 2012 (UTC)
Hi SnowFire. I believe I did in my 4th paragraph. To expand on this ‘traditional’ issue: In trying to keep things as brief as possible, I pointed out the originating cause of the traditional perception to provide some background: the lopsided defeat of Italian 10th. (The non-belligerence section provide much background and I believe it used to discuss the debacle in Greece. I was going to highlight similar types of defeats of others like the Russians early in Barbarossa and the British in Malaya/Singapore, but decided against due to length.)
It is the references that are provided that deal with the traditional point of view in depth. The first paragraph, with the exception of the last sentence, is taken from both Walker and Sadkovich. The entirety of both these texts address the traditional viewpoint in-depth. They provide the background behind the ‘traditional view’. Sadkovich, for example, continually highlights events that are described as German only and where the Italians were described as having either run away, been ineffectual or criticised for some other reason (such as being too slow to respond), and discusses what actually happened.
I have already provided an excerpt from Walker here. Sadkovich states that the myth of the desert fox is so imbedded in our Anglo-American psyche that it is sacrilegious to question it and most works end up inadvertently sustaining it (paraphrasing) – I was raised, educated and live in the Anglo-American world so I include myself as part of that psyche.
Walker and Sadkovich they are not alone in doing this and the points being made by these authors are clear. Mackenzie has been mentioned. Bauer hasn’t been challenged (until now). Bierman & Smith touch on it in several sections. O’Hara in Struggle for the Middle Sea has an entire section in the intro on “Myth’s and Misconceptions” which he build on throughout the book. I can quote others but its 2:45 AM where I am.
One assumes the reader would use some initiative and explore further if they are interested – its what I do (and I’m not special).
So I don’t the view of the article being vague on the ‘traditional’ stance ‘stacks’ up (for lack of a better word). And quite frankly, the scrutiny one goes through, to have to provide citations for every single sentence, is excessive.
Some previous comments I’ve made on this topic: e.g. 1, e.g. 2.
I’m getting the impression that you think this is all about saying “Italian soldiers are badasses”. Perhaps I’m too close to the topic, but my read of it is ”they didn’t always cut and run, were not quite the bumbling idiots of popular, but where possible they stood an fought as best they could (just like everyone else).” Provision of cases where they contributed, but have been hitherto unacknowledged, is not claiming them to be ‘badasses’. Sadkovich is the most aggressive in attacking the ‘tradional’ scholarship – but he has less space in which to do so (29 pages) and his paper is peer reviewed so it is accepted scholarship.
This is a convoluted topic (ineffectiveness and cowardice have become intertwined, so I note your point). Dispelling the belief of cowardice of Italian soldiers is just part of it (was originally the main goal I believe). Discussion Italian military effectiveness creeps in because, as one reads further, one begins to see many accounts of where Rommel, for example, would not have been able to fight more than a couple of battles without the logistical support provided.
In the last round of consolidation, my objective was to get it down to 2 paragraphs. I tried make simple statements and ensure that I wasn’t successful, due to continually finding additional supportive facts/points to include (plus I tried to keep content/references from the other ‘contributions’). Also, each of my citations, at least, were providing slightly different angles on the topic, making simple statements consolidated into two paras difficult. Plus it takes a long time to ensure that the right citations are in place and that they support the integrity and messages of all the originating authors.
Moving forward, if we are try to simplify passage, we can identify points that need stating for inclusion in a re-worked section. How about we start with a look at the wording that some think is to ‘excessive’ in stating Italian bravery? If we look at it piece by piece, I can provide reasoning as to why its there and we can come up with a workaround, or move it out etc. ---- Romaioi (talk) 19:14, 1 December 2012 (UTC)
Just a PS: I noticed there is another except from another literature source that deals with the distortions here, likely provided by a sock with a distorted view, but the reference is valid.
So it is now well established that issues exist with misrepresentations and distortions of Italian involvement in WWII historiography, including blatant neglect to research and mention. The manner in which the article is initiated is consistent with the literature.
Perhaps younger contributors haven’t come across as many of the ‘traditional’ reflections of the old stereotypes, or perhaps the blatant ‘neglect to mention’ has left them unaware. But I’m not that old (mid-30’s) and I can remember times when southern Europeans were still classed as ‘coloured’, rather than ‘white’.
And the historiographical issues do not just concern Italian involvement, there are issues with the historiography pertaining Rommel / Montgomery myth. Barnett addressed the Montgomery side of things (e.g. Crusader being crucial and Auchenlick paving the way for Montgomery’s victory.) Sadkovich points out that much of Rommel’s success was largely due to the initiative of his subordinates, both German and Italian, and the logistical support he received. ---- Romaioi (talk) 05:19, 2 December 2012 (UTC)

(de-indent) Thanks for your reply. I suppose I should have been more specific: Yes, I know that traditional scholarship has been dismissive of Italians. The problem is that the section itself doesn't make this clear. More generally, I am of the same opinion of Blodance the Seeker linked above. It's a warning sign if multiple independent Wikipedia editors who aren't experts look at this section and say "Yes, it's referenced, but the POV here is so strong as to be worthy of talk page comment." As Blodance noted the section might as well be titled "Why historians are WRONG and their low assessment of the Italian military is unjust." And... I'm still not convinced that this is wrong, at least insofar as actual military effectiveness. The Italian high command & military made numerous horrible horrible mistakes throughout the war (sure, the British made mistakes too) and also undeniably lost (unlike the British). This should be mentioned more prominently!

I'll take a shot at editing the section. Please feel free to revert / modify as I'm not overly familiar with the sources quoted if I mix things up. SnowFire (talk) 19:03, 2 December 2012 (UTC)

Also as a brief other note. I just plain don't believe some of the earliest statements in the section, and I'm not sure if this is Walker overplaying the event or the Wikipedi article overstating Walker. I'm entirely willing to believe that the early defeat of the Italian army in North Africa, and the propaganda resulting from it, were key blows to the image of the Italian military in English-language sources. But the section seems to imply it's the ONLY bad thing that happened to the Italians, and was endlessly reflected in a hall of mirrors to hide all the secret Italian successes elsewhere. I just don't think this is likely - Musolinni declaring war AFTER the French had practically been defeated, for example, I don't think impressed anyone, nor did the campaign in Greece. SnowFire (talk) 19:38, 2 December 2012 (UTC)

Hi SnowFire. I think your edits might work (will digest and possibly ce etc when I get a chance). Its finally a good length!! The concluding paragraph provides good context. Thats the kind of help I was chasing because I always will add snippits detail (as per the non belligerence section and accompanying footnotes). Bit disappointed that note 12 (from memory), which highlights cases where they were present but have been ignored, was removed. Sorry to hear you don't believe those earlier statements. I read (and wrote/re-wrote) them myself and always try to remain true to the original text. I would generally strongly urge someone (particularly someone who admits they do not know the topic well enough) to back up a statement with proof before deleting in that manner, particularly given that they can be found throughout the literature (but our goals are largely aligned here I think). Happy to write the source passages to you and provide you with the Sadkovich article if you wish. Sadkovich is particularly strong in his wording; e.g. "The basis for the Rommel myth is an equally exaggerated myth of the Italians, who purportedly lacked not only good weapons, but also good leadership, adequate training, and high morale" (p287); "In fact, it was Italian logistics, Italian armour, and Italian heavy and self-propelled artillery that supported his advance, and Italian realism that kept him from dashing so far ahead he lost all contact with his Italian infantry and bases of supply (p301)". If you are game, I'm keen to follow up on Kirrages suggestion and start a proper main article - I should have time over the Xmas and would prefer to know at least one other person will assist/QA it etc. Also, I had a thought on a different title: Issues with Historiographical Portrayals or something like that. Any thoughts? PS. I agree with you 100% on Mussolini's declaration of war and committment to invade Greece. Very unimpressed with his decision to enter in the first place under any circumstance given’s the country’s circumstances (given they knew how unprepared they were and flippantly threw that a lot of lives away - Greece is the perfect example), having faced down Hitler only 6 years hence, and the nation’s affinity to the British. It should be rated as one of the 20th century’s greatest blunders. Hence, my interest – always love the detail behind blunders. ----Romaioi (talk) 06:36, 3 December 2012 (UTC)
SnowFire, on the second look I believe it reads very well. Thanks for keeping much of my original wording. The main thing I see myself doing is adding back citations to support the second sentence of the second paragraph. Finally! Its there! (Distorted sock fest hopefully never to return.) ----Romaioi (talk) 06:49, 3 December 2012 (UTC)
Sure, if you already have the Sadkovich article feel free to upload it and email me a link. (Don't bother re-typing it or anything if you don't have it in electronic form.)
If you want to have a go at a separate spin-off article on the topic, well, I already noted my hesitance on this above. I'm sure there's material, but as the trick as usual will be avoiding POV-via-what's-presented. There were a lot of battles in WWII, and a lot of historians have written on them; picking which ones to present can easily distort the general picture, even if all done in 100% good faith. There's also the issue of potentially repeating what's already in the specific articles on the campaigns & battles and the like, which already go into detail about successes / reversals / setbacks. I think a spinoff article might work if and only if you can focus more explicitly on the historiography debate, and leave the specific examples & details to the actual battle / campaign articles. But that's just me, I'm sure others will have their own opinion. SnowFire (talk) 02:33, 5 December 2012 (UTC)
Here it is: File:Of Myths & Men; Rommel and the Italians in North Africa,.pdf ----Romaioi (talk) 14:09, 7 December 2012 (UTC)

Churchill conspiracy section removed to talk page[edit]

As noted above and in the tag, it's not clear this even merits a refutation, it's just wrong. Moved to the talk page for posterity in case others disagree and/or want to bring this somewhere more relevant.

Some historians believe that Mussolini was induced to enter the war against the Allies by secret negotiations with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, with whom he had an active mail correspondence between September 1939 and June 1940.[1] The journalist Luciano Garibaldi wrote that "in those letters (which disappeared at Lake Como in 1945) Churchill may have extorted Mussolini to enter the war to mitigate Hitler's demands and dissuade him from continuing hostilities against Great Britain as France was inexorably moving toward defeat. In light of this, Mussolini could urge Hitler turn against the USSR, the common enemy of both Churchill and Mussolini". However, the limited correspondence on which these claims are based has been inspected and rejected as false.[2]

  1. ^ Garibaldi (2001), p.142
  2. ^ Irving, David (3 February 2000). "Churchill-Mussolini 'secret letters'". The Times. Letters to the Editor. Retrieved 7 February 2012. 

Hi SnowFire, This is a good place to park it for now. Never liked it in the intro (not even sure its on the right page), as it is a side issue. I recently purchased a book by Frank Joseph, in which Chapter 17 (pp. 202-209) focusses specifically on this topic:
Joseph, Frank (2010). Mussolini’s War: Fascist Italy’s Military Struggles from Africa and Western Europe to the Mediterranean and Soviet Union 1935–1945. Solihull: Helion & Company. ISBN 978-1-906033-56-9.  External link in |title= (help)
A quick count shows this chapter uses 12 separate sources. Some are Italian (including Mussolini's memoirs), some are 'English' (e.g. the famous Irving). Three of the sources are internet pages (365Articles Worldpress Site, a Telegraph article on Churchill ordering the assassination of Mussolini) and an English DVD documentary, but the rest are published books. Interestingly (for me), one is by Luciano Garibaldi (review here) - I have a copy of his 'Century of War', which had the first mention of this topic that I ever saw (and used that as a citation in the text you moved, as the original passage only cited an obscure web article).
Joseph's is an interesting book in general; reads like an action novel, according to the forward by a retired Lt. Colonel; but I think it needs revising/editing in some areas. Happy New Year! ----Romaioi (talk) 06:55, 31 December 2012 (UTC)
Frank Joseph is Frank Joseph aka Frank Collin, ex-Nazi and writer of New Age and fringe archaeology material and is not a reliable source, Also see the discussion about him at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Military history. Dougweller (talk) 16:33, 8 February 2014 (UTC)

problematic sentence regarding Greece[edit]

"In fact, the Greeks planned to use the bulk of their forces to hold the Italians, but to offer only token resistance against the Germans, thus allowing the Germans an easy victory in Greece."

Does the source offer an explanation as to why the Greek's, apparently, decided to allow their country be overrun?EnigmaMcmxc (talk) 03:44, 7 May 2014 (UTC)

The quoted sentence seems implausible on its face, I also think the source needs to be checked.--Sus scrofa (talk) 13:02, 7 May 2014 (UTC)
Completely agree, however I do not have access to it.EnigmaMcmxc (talk) 14:10, 7 May 2014 (UTC)
I've just checked the reference. The sentence up to "thus allowing" is a copy-and-paste from the article. The argument seems like nonsense though, and is probably based on a misinterpretation of Greek military deployments. From memory, the British were frustrated that the Greeks kept the bulk of their forces facing the Italians (on the grounds that they were enjoying a fair degree of success) rather than make proper preparations to meet the looming German invasion. This doesn't mean that the Greeks wanted the Germans to conquer their country! This appears to be either a WP:FRINGE view or an error on the part of the historian, and I've removed it. If other reliable sources provide support for this view I'd be in favour of including it in some form, but it sure looks like nonsense. Nick-D (talk) 04:29, 10 May 2014 (UTC)

Anti-Italianism evident[edit]

Enigma, why did you undo may contribution below?

Much of the military literature written by American, British and even German historians, both during and immediately after the war and even up to recent times, has been informed by a marked anti-Italianism based on national stereotypes, patriotic jingoism and racial triumphalism.

The source and the veracity of this statement can be found in another wikipedia article called itself: "Anti-italianism" which has a section dealing specifically with WW2. Here is an excerpt:

Because many writers have uncritically repeated stereotypes shared by their sources, biases and prejudices have taken on the status of objective observations, including the idea that the Germans and British were the only belligerents in the Mediterranean after Italian setbacks in early 1941. Sadkovich questioned this point of view in Of Myths and Men and The Italian Navy, but persistent stereotypes, including that of the incompetent Italian, are well entrenched in the literature, from Puleston's early The Influence of Sea Power, to Gooch's Italian Military Incompetence, to more recent publications by Mack Smith, Knox and Sullivan. Wartime bias in early British and American histories, which focused on German operations, dismissed Italian forces as inept and or unimportant, and viewed Germany as the pivotal power in Europe during the interwar period.

So why did you undo it? It is a statement supported by another wikipedia article in which I have linked for readers themselves to read and follow up on? It's one thing deleting unsourced and unsubstantiated material - it quite another deleting material that is actually found and linked to a wikipedia article. Please explain and justify your action and reasoning in removing itAnnalesSchool (talk) 01:13, 23 December 2014 (UTC)

Surely by now you know that Wikipedia articles are not reliable sources for other Wikpedia sources. Please provide reliable sources to support this material (which looks suspiciously like the POV you've been tiresomely pushing for months...). I'd be guessing that you added the material to the Anti-italianism article given that it's dependent on Sadkovich's POV. Nick-D (talk) 02:50, 23 December 2014 (UTC)
For starters, you tagged everything you did not like with a [citation needed] tag (fair or not, I do not really care) and then proceeded to add an unsourced piece of text in an moment of utter irony. As stated in the edit log, reinsert when you back it up by some mainstream source (so not breach Wikipedia:Fringe theories). A quote would also be nice from said historian, since as you have demonstrated lately, you are willing to throw your own interpretation of historian's works into articles. Nick has also highlighted relevant wiki guidelines on the matter.
I note that the basis of your work lays with Sadkovich (who clearly has an axe to grind, and I have noted from prior research is not exactly an uncontroversial figure with his peers who have noted problems with his works and methods) who is 20 years out of date at the moment, so the comment "and even up to recent times" is not exactly apt based off the source. It would also be nice to see some other historians who agree with Sadkovich's view that "Much of the military literature" and "many writers" has been contaminated by this bias as I personally believe it to by hyperbole considering even the British official histories note the bravery and skill of Italian soldiers (off the top of my head, the plaudits are brought out for the Italian artillerymen during Operation Compass, and for the Bersaglieri in general). Not to mention I have read plenty of articles and works (from Brits Germans, and Americans) that have praised the other arms of the Italian military for their actions in the field.EnigmaMcmxc (talk) 14:50, 23 December 2014 (UTC)

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