Italy was one of three of the founding members of the "Axis", an aggressive military bloc countries which were fascist regimes. The country was for Germany a reliable ally. The weakness of the Italian army and contradictory policy of Benito Mussolini forced Hitler to divert forces from other directions.
The ideas of fascism in Italy has been widely developed since coming to power in 1922, Benito Mussolini. King Victor Emmanuel III is not under pressure and the threat of civil war was forced to appoint him to the post of Prime Minister. Soon Mussolini, backed by National fascist party (LO), was able to fully grasp the power in the country. Actively strengthening the vertical of power, the role of the party and the police, in the 1928 Italy becomes a police state with one-party system.
The country has been working aggressively to capture territories. Italy intends to spread its influence on the entire area of the Mediterranean sea as "Our sea" (lat. Mare Nostrum). By 1936 Mussolini conquers Ethiopia. In the same year Italy signs a Treaty with Germany about the partition of Europe: instead of the principle of consent to the annexation of Austria the Italians have the refusal of the Germans from expanding into the Adriatic.
When relations between Mussolini and Hitler is not very clear. In the mid 30-ies of the Italian Prime Minister repeatedly made critical statements in relation to the German leader. In particular Mussolini did not share the views of the German Nazis on ideas of biological racism, and Hitler himself called "annoying person".
Deteriorating relations with great Britain and France forced Italy to cooperate with Hitler. Prime Minister Benito Mussolini involved in the Munich agreement, by which the Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia went to Germany. In 1939 Italy invades Albania, winning it in just five days. On may 22 the same year, the Italian foreign Minister Ciano and his colleague Ribbentrop will conclude the Treaty on a defensive and offensive Alliance of the two countries, which bears the name "Steel Union". Thus, after the German attack on Poland, Italy continues to assert its neutrality, has an active trade with France and is fortifications on the borders with the Third Reich.
In the summer of 1940 Italy is determined on whose side to intervene during the Second World war and on June 10 declared war on great Britain and France. 32 Italian divisions invading the Alps, however, 6 French divisions successfully to repel their onslaught. Only thanks to the victory over the enemy Germany Italy managed to get hold of nice and some other districts of France. Italian troops in East Africa led an offensive against British forces in Sudan, Kenya and Somalia. 25 October 1940 Mussolini sends an air corps of its troops in Belgium. At about the same time begins the invasion of Greece.
After the first successful battles were followed by series of defeats. In Africa, the Situation began to emerge not in favor of the Italians. The British managed to cause significant damage to Italian troops stop their advance and organizing a serious counter-attack. Only German intervention prevented the defeat. Help German allies and took on the Greek direction.
2.Italian Navy in the Second World war
In early 1940 the suspicion that Italy will enter the war, have already soared in air. However, Mussolini still didn't speak specifically to the chiefs of staff of the three branches of the armed forces that it intends to intervene in the conflict. In the first months of that fateful year, the government to support exports, forced the Navy to sell Sweden 2 destroyers and 2 destroyers. This fact was quite naturally understood by the fleet as a sign of the unwillingness of the government to enter the war, at least in the near future. But a few days after the visit of von Ribbentrop to Mussolini in March 1940, which was immediately followed by the visit of Sumner Welles, beginning to clear the actual attitude of the government towards the war. To headquarters this decision was brought on 6 April 1940.
On this day, Marshal Badoglio, chief of the General Staff convened a meeting of the three chiefs of staff of the armed forces and told them "firm decision the Duce to intervene at that time and in that place that he will choose". The badoglio said that the land war will be waged in a defensive way, offensive and in the sea and in the air. Two days later, on 11 April, the chief of the naval Staff Admiral Cavagnari in writing expressed their attitude to this statement. Among other things he noted the difficulty of such events due to the superiority of the enemy forces and the unfavorable strategic situation. This made it impossible offensive Maritime war. In addition, the British Navy could quickly fill!" any loss. Cavagnari stated that the Italian Navy is impossible, and soon he will be in critical situation. The Admiral warned that it would be impossible to achieve initial surprise, and the impossible operations against enemy shipping in the Mediterranean, as it has been discontinued.
Admiral Cavagnari also wrote: "since there is no possibility of strategic objectives or defeating the enemy's naval forces, entering the war on our initiative, not justified. We will be able to conduct only defensive operations." Indeed, history knows examples when a country started the war, immediately went on the defensive.
Showing the disadvantageous situation, which would be to the fleet because of inadequate air support to naval operations, Admiral Cavagnari concluded his Memorandum with such prophetic words: "whatever the character has not taken the war in the Mediterranean, in the end, our losses at sea would be heavy. When will the peace talks, Italy may well find itself not only without territorial gains, but also without the fleet and possibly without aviation". These words were not only prophetic, they expressed the point of view of the Italian Navy. All the predictions made by the Admiral Cavagnari in his letter, were fully met, except for one. By the end of the war Italy was left without the army and air force, destroyed by powerful enemies, but still had a fairly strong fleet.
Mussolini, fearing that the world will return to Europe earlier than Italy will have their say, did not pay attention to these cautions. Moreover, he simply dismissed them on the basis of their own confidence that military action will be very short — no more than three months. However, the Italian Navy was preparing for war on the basis of operational plans, more than once earlier. They can be summarised as follows: to keep the marine forces concentrated for maximum defensive and offensive power; as a consequence — not to participate in the protection of merchant shipping except in special rare cases; to abandon the idea of supply Libya because of the initial strategic situation. Having France as its enemy, it was considered impossible to conduct vessels through the Mediterranean sea.
Mussolini did not oppose these concepts. He assumed that the conflict will not last, and therefore coastal shipping can be reduced, and Libya will last six months on those stocks that it contains. It turned out that all the assumptions of Mussolini's wrong. The Italian Navy found that he was forced to do what to do did not gather. Exactly 3 days after the outbreak of war in Rome from Libya received a request to urgently deliver much-needed supplies. And these requirements, which had increased at an alarming rate, I had to do, of course, the Navy.
On 16 June 1940, the submarine "Tea" started loading ammunition for delivery to Tobruk. Due to the proximity of the base to the front line and its removal from other Italian bases command didn't want to send in the transports, even with an escort. The submarine put to sea on 19 June. It was the first of countless trip to Africa.
These operations are carried out under the pressure of circumstances, became the main occupation of the Italian Navy, although not the most favorite. They led to serious fragmentation. On June 20 the fleet of destroyers headed "Artillery" came from Augusta in Benghazi to transport anti-tank guns and artillery. After 5 days, the first guarded convoy left Naples to Tripoli, carrying various loads and 1727 soldiers. On the same day the submarine "Bragadin" went to sea with a cargo of materials for the Tripoli airport. These few examples clearly show how much was provided "samenbrengen" Libya. The chief of the General Staff, Marshal Badoglio, calling on the Admiral Cavagnari sent to Libya first 3 or 4 convoys, each time firmly assured that "this is the last time".
Confidence that the war will end after 3 months, was soon dispelled. Mussolini was mislead by the statements of Hitler's propaganda about the landing in England. In fact, at the end of August 1940, the Italian Supreme Command, on the basis of information received from Berlin, had to give the order to prepare for a protracted war that will last several years.
Unfortunately for the Italian Navy, the premise on which was based its operational planning, turned out to be fundamentally incorrect. However, Navy fought hard a long 39 months in difficult and sometimes hopeless conditions and inflicted heavy losses to the enemy mighty. Despite the bloody test, Italian sailors, from the Admiral to the last sailor, always kept devotion to duty, spirit of self-sacrifice and unfailing courage. Their dedication was simply remarkable, as was the result not of blind obedience, and the manifestation of conscious will, which was confirmed at each stage of the struggle.
At the beginning of the war, the core of the Italian fleet consisted of 2 older but upgraded battleships and 19 cruisers. The British and French had 11 battleships, 3 aircraft carrier and 23 cruisers stationed in the Mediterranean sea. The huge superiority of the allies was just overwhelming, when you consider their power outside of the Mediterranean theatre that could be used as reinforcements to replace losses. Roughly speaking, Italy had a Navy with a total displacement of about 690000 tons, and the enemy — four times more.
It is important to consider the deployment of fleets of the belligerents. Anglo-French forces were based in Toulon, Gibraltar, Bizerte and Alexandria. At this time in Malta ships was not. Italian ships were mainly divided between Naples and Taranto, a few cruisers were based on sicilijskie ports. These forces could be combined, using the Strait of Messina, though the danger of attacks, passing it. In the Northern part of the Tyrrhenian sea was based only a few submarines and connections torpedo boats for coastal defense.
The Adriatic sea was an inland sea, a strategic cover-up which was carried out from Taranto. Tobruk was an advanced Outpost close to enemy lines, so the DIN was based only light patrol ships. The Dodecanese and their main base at Leros was actually blocked, as the Greek water could not be considered neutral. Here could be based only patrol and subversive connections. Base of Massawa in the Red sea where there was a group of outdated destroyers, submarines and torpedo boats, was completely isolated from the beginning of the war and had limited value.
Therefore, we can say that the deployment of the Italian fleet were consistent with the geographical factor. The main force was in the centre of the Mediterranean sea, and the rest in the number of peripheral points. The situation in the beginning of the war were no signs of immediate confrontation, unless both the opposing fleet will obviously aggressive position. The Italian fleet to do that and could, as shown earlier, even not intended. However, as was stated by the enemy, his fleet will lead an offensive war, especially the Union, commanded by Admiral sir Andrew Browne Cunningham.
Capitulation in 1943, the Italo-German troops in Africa and the landing on 10 July 1943 Anglo-American troops in Sicily led to the displacement and arrest of Mussolini. The new government headed by Marshal Pietro Badoglio start secret negotiations with the Allies about the capitulation, announced the dissolution of the fascist party of Italy. On 3 September 1943 signed a peace agreement with the countries of the Alliance. On the same day the allied troops landed in Italy. After the official statement about the country's withdrawal from the Second World war, the Germans disarmed the troops and police of Italy and occupied its territory. German troops managed to free Mussolini from arrest and transport to the territory of the Third Reich. There, after a conversation with Hitler, Mussolini was appointed head of the puppet government of occupied Italy. In 1945, after the defeat in the war, he tried to escape, but was captured by partisans and executed.
Following the war, the country lost all the captured territory, the Dodecanese Islands back from Greece, Istria - Yugoslavia, and proclaimed Trieste a free territory under the UN (in 1954 he returned to Italy).