The Context

8th September, 1943: armistice with the Allied Army

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After the Allied landing in Sicily, the Italian monarchy, compromised by its support of Fascism since the 1920s, overthrew Mussolini in an attempt to save itself. The Duce was arrested on the 25th of July 1943 with the complicity of other leaders of the fascist party.

 

The majority of the Italian people started to hope for a quick end to the war, but, in reality, this was the point when the Italian homeland became a battlefield, where previously Italian forces had been fighting abroad.

 

The new government, guided by  Marshal Pietro Badoglio, formally still in alliance with  the Third Reich, secretly began negotiations with Allied forces which led to the armistice of September 8th, 1943.

 

In October 1943, the new government declared war on Germany. In the meantime the Third Reich moved troops to Italy. When the Italian-Allied armistice was made public, German forces completed their occupation of northern Italy while the King and the Italian High Command fled south to territory controlled by the Allies. This provoked the break up of the Royal Italian Army. Abandoned, without orders and tired of war, most of the army disbanded.

 

More than 600.000 Italian soldiers were captured by the Nazis and deported or killed if they had continued fighting German forces in  Cefalonia and on the Greek mainland. No steps had been taken by the King or the new government to prevent this from happening.