3 minutes 2 seconds
00:00:00 - 00:00:21
Of the losing side in World War II, Italy was the only major belligerent to avoid occupation after 1945. It wasn't subject to division like Germany was or forced constitutional change like Japan. Instead, Italy was mostly disarmed, lost its overseas territories and was forced to pay reparations. But, it was largely rehabilitated within a couple of years. Which raises the question, why?
00:00:21 - 00:00:47
Why wasn't Italy occupied like the rest of the Axis powers after World War II? So as many of you will know, Italy was the first of the major Axis powers to admit defeat. This saw King Victor Emmanuel III order his government to side with the Allies and fight against the Axis forces that remained in the north of the country. And as a result, for the most part, pragmatism took over for the Allies. The primary concern for the US and UK was defeating the Germans in the north and destroying the Italian Social Republic run by the fez-wearing Italian man.
00:00:47 - 00:01:11
This meant that unlike after Germany and Japan's defeat, the Allies didn't have the resources to administer the day-to-day running of the country. As such, many of those who would serve the fez-wearing Italian man were essentially pardoned. And beyond this, Italy wasn't subject to massive deindustrialisation since it was easier to manufacture things there for the war effort. And given that the war wouldn't be over for another couple of years, the government remained largely stable. So what about after the war?
00:01:11 - 00:01:46
First of all, unlike Germany, the USSR had no troops in the country. Yugoslavian communist partisans had sent some of their troops into the north but ultimately they could be removed, meaning that only the Western Allies were involved in Italy's post-war settlement. Furthermore, most of those who had worked under Mussolini in government were staunch anti-communists, and given that the Cold War was about to begin in earnest, that was good enough. Another reason was that unlike Japan and Germany, there was no real desire for vengeance against Italy. The American people would accept absolutely nothing less than utter capitulation by Japan in response to its attack on Pearl Harbor, and Germany's regime was seen as so evil that any traces of it had to be eradicated.
00:01:47 - 00:02:09
Whereas Italy was just, well, Italy. Italy wasn't seen as a threat to the very existence of any major allied nation, just some of their colonies and some countries in Southern Europe. Furthermore, in the United States, there was a large voting block of Catholic Italian-Americans and Roosevelt wanted to win re-election. Britain and France had wanted to take a harsher tone towards Italy. They refused to prop up the Italian monarchy and wanted much harsher restrictions on its post-war military.
00:02:09 - 00:02:43
But the United States simply overruled their demands. Instead, Italy would lose its overseas empire, would demilitarize its borders, had strict limits on its military equipment and wasn't allowed to have nuclear weapons. The reason why the US could do this was that neither Britain nor France could spare the cash or the troops needed for an occupation. These restrictions would last until 1949 when Italy joined NATO, and it was allowed to rearm because it sat on the front lines of the Cold War in Europe. I hope you enjoyed this episode with a special thanks to my patrons James Bizonette, Kelly Moneymaker, Korsha Wolf, Sky Chappell, Kartoitska, Adam Stalter, Alex Schwin, Jerry Lambdin, Marcus Arsner, Rod D.
00:02:43 - 00:02:43
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