Italian occupation of France

Last updated

Italian Military Administration in France
Italian military occupation
1940–1943
Flag of Italy (1861-1946) crowned.svg
Italian occupied France.jpg
Capital Menton
  Type Military administration
Historical era World War II
10 June 1940
  Case Anton
11 November 1942
3 September 1943
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Flag of France (1794-1815).svg 1940:
French Third Republic
Flag of France (1794-1815).svg 1942:
Vichy France
German Military Administration Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg

Italian-occupied France was an area of south-eastern France occupied by the Kingdom of Italy in two stages during World War II. The occupation lasted from June 1940 until the Armistice of Cassibile between Italy and Allied armed forces in September 1943, when Italian troops on French soil retreated under pressure from the Germans.

Contents

Italian occupation

The initial Italian occupation of France territory occurred in June 1940; it was then expanded in November 1942.

Italians in occupied France (1942) Bundesarchiv Bild 101II-MW-6268-06A, Frankreich, Italienische Offiziere und Soldaten.jpg
Italians in occupied France (1942)

The German offensive against the Low Countries and France began on 10 May and by the middle of May German forces were on French soil. By the start of June, British forces were evacuating from the pocket in Northern France. On 10 June 1940, Italy declared war against the French and British. Ten days later, the Italian army invaded France. On 24 June 1940, after the Fall of France, Italy and France signed the Franco-Italian Armistice, two days after the cessation of hostilities between France and Germany, agreeing upon an Italian zone of occupation.

This initial zone of occupation annexed officially to the Kingdom of Italy [1] was 832 square kilometres (321 sq mi) and contained 28,500 inhabitants. [1] The largest town contained within the initial Italian zone of occupation was Menton. The main city inside the "demilitarized zone" of 50 km (31 mi) from the former border with the Italian Alpine Wall [2] was Nice. [3]

In November 1942, in conjunction with Case Anton , the German occupation of most of Vichy France, the Royal Italian Army (Regio Esercito) expanded its occupation zone. Italian forces took control of Toulon and all of Provence up to the river Rhône, with the island of Corsica (claimed by the Italian irredentists). Nice and Corsica were to be annexed to Italy (as had happened in 1940 with Menton), in order to fulfil the aspirations of Italian irredentists (including local groups such as the Nizzardo Italians and the Corsican Italians). [4] But this was not completed because of the Italian surrender to the Allies in September 1943 when the Germans took over the Italian occupation zones.

The area of south-east France actually occupied by the Italians has been disputed. A study of the postal history of the region has cast new light on the part of France controlled by the Italians and the Germans.(Trapnell, 2014). By studying mail that had been censored by the occupying power, this study showed that the Italians occupied the eastern part up to a "line" joining Toulon - Gap - Grenoble - Chambéry - Annecy - Geneva. Places occupied by the Italians west of this were few or transitory. [5]

Characteristics

The Italian Army of occupation in southern France in November 1942 was made up of four infantry divisions with 136,000 soldiers and 6,000 officers, while in Corsica there were 66,000 soldiers with 3,000 officers. [6] There was virtually no guerrilla war against the Italians in France until summer 1943. [ citation needed ] The Vichy regime that controlled southern France was friendly toward Italy, seeking concessions of the sort Germany would never make in its occupation zone. [7]

Refuge

Many thousands of Jews moved to the Italian zone of occupation to escape Nazi persecution in Vichy France. Nearly 80% [ dubious ] of the remaining 300,000 French Jews took refuge there after November 1942. [8] The book Robert O. Paxton's Vichy France, Old Guard, New Order describes how the Italian zone acted as a refuge for Jews fleeing persecution in Vichy France during the occupation.

The Italian Jewish banker Angelo Donati had an important role in convincing the Italian civil and military authorities to protect the Jews from French persecution. [9]

In January 1943 the Italians refused to cooperate with the Nazis in rounding up the Jews living in the occupied zone of France under their control and in March prevented the Nazis from deporting Jews in their zone. German foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop complained to Mussolini that "Italian military circles... lack a proper understanding of the Jewish question." [10]

However, when the Italians signed the armistice with the Allies, German troops invaded the former Italian zone on 8 September 1943 and initiated brutal raids. Alois Brunner, the SS official for Jewish affairs, was placed at the head of units formed to search out Jews. Within five months, 5,000 Jews were caught and deported. [11]

Bordeaux

In August 1940, the Italian Royal Navy (Regia Marina) established a submarine base at Bordeaux, outside Italian-occupied France. [12]

Operating from Bordeaux Sommergibile ("BETASOM") as it was known, thirty-two Italian submarines participated in the Battle of the Atlantic. These submarines sank 109 Allied merchant ships (593,864 tons) and 18 warships (20,000 tons) up to September 1943. [13] Eleven of these submarines were lost.

Italian territorial claims

In addition to Nice/Nizza and Corsica, the Italians projected further territorial claims for the defeated France. In 1940, The Italian Armistice Commission (Commissione Italiana d'Armistizio con la Francia, CIAF) produced two detailed plans concerning the future of the occupied French territories. [14] Plan 'A' presented an Italian military occupation all the way to the river Rhone, in which France would maintain its territorial integrity except for Corsica and Nizza. [14] Plan 'B' encompassed the Italian annexation of the Alpes Maritimes (including the Principality of Monaco) and parts of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Hautes Alpes and Savoie. [14] The territory would be administrated as the new Italian region of Alpi Occidentali with the town of Briançon (Italian: Brianzone) acting as the provincial capital. [14]

See also

Related Research Articles

The Italian First Army was an Italian army formation, in World War I, facing Austro-Hungarian and German forces, and in World War II, fighting on the North African front.

Italian prisoners of war in the Soviet Union Wikimedia list article

Italian prisoners of war in the Soviet union is the narrative of POWs from the Italian Army in Russia and of their fate in Stalin's Soviet Union during and after World War II.

Italian participation in the Eastern Front

The Italian participation in the Eastern Front during World War II began after the launch of Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union, on 22 June 1941. To show solidarity with his Axis ally, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini ordered a contingent of the Italian Royal Army to be prepared for the Eastern Front and, by early July, an Italian force was in transport.

2nd Alpini Regiment

The 2nd Alpini Regiment is a regiment of the Italian Army's mountain infantry speciality, the Alpini, which distinguished itself in combat during World War I and World War II. The regiment was disbanded in 1943 due to losses on the Eastern Front, however one of its component battalions, the Saluzzo Battalion, was reformed in November 1945 after the end of hostilities in Europe. The regiment itself was reformed in 1963 as a training unit, but during the 1975 army reform it was disbanded once again. In 1992 the regiment was raised once again and today it consists of the Saluzzo Battalion, is based in Cuneo and part of the Alpine Brigade "Taurinense".

5th Alpini Regiment

The 5th Alpini Regiment is a regiment of the Italian Army's mountain infantry speciality, the Alpini, which distinguished itself in combat during World War I and World War II.

6th Alpini Regiment

The 6th Alpini Regiment is a training regiment of the Italian Army's mountain infantry speciality, the Alpini, which distinguished itself in combat during World War I and World War II.

11th Alpini Regiment

The 11th Alpini Regiment is an inactive regiment of the Italian Army's mountain infantry speciality, the Alpini, which distinguished itself in combat during World War I and World War II.

Italian irredentism in Corsica

Italian irredentism in Corsica was a cultural and historical movement promoted by Italians and by people from Corsica who identified themselves as part of Italy rather than France, and promoted the Italian annexation of the island.

Cavalleggeri were an inferior category of cavalry during the classic period of feudal cavalry. This included knife-armed cavalry, lancers' pages and mounted crossbowmen. Later, cavalleggeri became a subsidiary arm of the gendarmerie.

Mechanized Brigade "Aosta"

The Mechanized Brigade "Aosta" is a mechanized infantry brigade of the Italian Army based on the island of Sicily. The Brigade is one of the oldest of the Italian Army and the name connects the brigade to its original area of recruitment the Aosta Valley and therefore the brigade's coat of arms is modeled after the coat of arms if Aosta. The brigade is part of the Division "Acqui".

Angelo Donati Italian banker and philanthropist

Cavalier Angelo Donati was a Jewish Italian banker and philanthropist, and a diplomat of the San Marino Republic in Paris.

Italian occupation of Corsica

Italian-occupied Corsica refers to the military occupation by the Kingdom of Italy of the island of Corsica during World War II. It lasted from November 1942 to September 1943.

Italian concession of Tientsin Small Territory controlled by the Kingdom of Italy

The Italian concession of Tientsin was a small territory (concession) in central Tianjin, China, controlled by the Kingdom of Italy between 1901 and 1947.

Motorized Brigade "Cremona" military unit

The Motorized Brigade "Cremona" was an infantry brigade of the Italian Army. The brigade's headquarters was in the city of Turin. The brigade carried on the name and traditions of the 44th Infantry Division "Cremona".

During World War II, the Commissione Italiana d'Armistizio con la Francia or CIAF was a temporary civil and military body charged with implementing the Franco-Italian armistice of 24 June 1940 and harmonising it with the Franco-German armistice of 22 June. It had broad authority over the military, economic, diplomatic and financial relations between France and Italy until the Italo-German occupation of France on 11 November 1942. Thereafter its powers were gradually transferred to the Fourth Army, which was under the command of General Mario Vercellino and in occupation of southern France. The headquarters of the CIAF was in Turin and it was subordinate to the Comando Supremo. It liaised with the German Armistice Commission in Wiesbaden.

Fiat 666 Type of Heavy Truck

The Fiat 666 was a heavy truck produced by the Italian Fiat Veicoli Industriali.

Mario Aramu was an Italian aviator.

Fiat 665NM protetto Type of Armored personnel carrier

The Fiat 665NM protetto (protected) or scudato (shielded) was a wheeled armoured personnel carrier, produced in Italy and employed during World War II by the Royal Italian Army, the National Republican Army and the Wehrmacht.

The Battle of Campo delle Mosche took place on 23 July 1359 in the district of Pontedera in the state of Pisa, Italy between the forces of Florence and those of the mercenary Great Company. It resulted in a victory for the Florentine forces.

Alpini Battalion "Tirano"

The Alpini Battalion "Tirano" is an inactive battalion of the Italian Army's mountain infantry speciality, the Alpini, which distinguished itself in combat during World War I and World War II.

References

  1. 1 2 Militärgeschichtliches Forschungsamt. Germany and the Second World War – Volume 2: Germany's Initial Conquests in Europe, pg. 311
  2. "The Underground Fortifications of The Alpine Wall" . Retrieved 31 January 2016.
  3. "Rechercher italie1935-45.forumactif.net" . Retrieved 31 January 2016.
  4. "The Independent" . Retrieved 31 January 2016.
  5. "The postal history of the two-phased Italian occupation of south-east France 1940-1943" Monograph publ. France & Colonies Philatelic Society (GB)
  6. Giorgio Rochat, Le guerre italiane 1935–1943. Dall'impero d'Etiopia alla disfatta p. 376
  7. Karine Varley, "Vichy and the Complexities of Collaborating with Fascist Italy: French Policy and Perceptions between June 1940 and March 1942." Modern & Contemporary France 21.3 (2013): 317-333.
  8. Salvatore Orlando, La presenza ed il ruolo della IV Armata italiana in Francia meridionale prima e dopo l’8 settembre 1943, Ufficio Storico dello Stato Maggiore dell’Esercito Italiano, Roma (in Italian) [ permanent dead link ]
  9. From the French Shoah memorial : Angelo Donati’s report on the steps taken by the Italians to save the Jews in Italian-occupied France [ permanent dead link ]
  10. Italy and the Jews – Timeline by Elizabeth D. Malissa
  11. Saving the Jews . Retrieved 31 January 2016.
  12. "Base de submarinos, BETASOM". 14 February 2009. Retrieved 31 January 2016.
  13. Ghetti, Walter. Storia della Marina Italiana nella seconda guerra mondiale p. 26
  14. 1 2 3 4 Davide Rodogno (2006). Fascism's European empire: Italian occupation during the Second World War. Cambridge University Press. pp. 89–92. ISBN   0-521-84515-7.

Further reading