The Context

1940 : Italy under Mussolini enters the War

Italy, led by Benito Mussolini, entered the war on the side of the Third Reich in June 1940. The successes of German forces in Poland and France encouraged Mussolini to hope that a rapid victory for the Axis Powers would conceal Italy’s military and economic weakness.

 

In reality Italy experienced defeats in Africa, the Balkan and on the Eastern Front in Russia, with almost 100,000 casualties amongst the armed forces. At home there was widespread poverty and economic problems and from 1943 onwards there was widespread urban destruction and more than 25.000 dead among civilians, mostly as a result of allied aerial bombings after 1943.

 

The disastrous conduct of the war by the fascist government combined with the lack of raw materials and supplies hindered Italy’s war effort and created enormous difficulties for industry. This created an economic crisis and general discontent among the populace. This expressed itself through industrial strikes in the north of Italy,  particularly in Turin, during the spring of 1943.