Ugo Cavallero

Last updated
Ugo Cavallero
Ugo Cavallero.jpg
Born20 September 1880
Casale Monferrato, Piedmont, Italy
Died13 September 1943 (aged 62)
Frascati, Lazio, Italy
AllegianceFlag of Italy (1861-1946) crowned.svg  Kingdom of Italy
Service/branchFlag of Italy (1860).svg  Royal Italian Army
Years of service1900–1943
Rank Marshal of Italy
Commands held Chief of the Defence Staff
Battles/wars Italo-Turkish War
World War I
World War II
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross

Ugo Cavallero (20 September 1880 – 13 September 1943) was an Italian military commander before and during World War II. He was a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross of Nazi Germany.

World War II 1939–1945, between Axis and Allies

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from more than 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 70 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Knights Cross of the Iron Cross Military award of Nazi Germany

The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, or simply the Knight's Cross, and its variants were the highest awards in the military and paramilitary forces of Nazi Germany during World War II.

Nazi Germany The German state from 1933 to 1945, under the dictatorship of Adolf Hitler

Nazi Germany is the common English name for Germany between 1933 and 1945, when Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party (NSDAP) controlled the country through a dictatorship. Under Hitler's rule, Germany was transformed into a totalitarian state where nearly all aspects of life were controlled by the government. The official name of the state was Deutsches Reich until 1943 and Großdeutsches Reich from 1943 to 1945. Nazi Germany is also known as the Third Reich, meaning "Third Realm" or "Third Empire", the first two being the Holy Roman Empire (800–1806) and the German Empire (1871–1918). The Nazi regime ended after the Allies defeated Germany in May 1945, ending World War II in Europe.



Born in Casale Monferrato, Piedmont, Cavallero had a privileged childhood as a member of the Italian nobility. After attending military school, Cavallero was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in 1900. Cavallero later attended college and graduated in 1911, earning a degree in mathematics. Still in the army, Cavallero fought in Libya in 1913, during the Italo-Turkish War, and was awarded a Bronze Medal for Military Valor.

Casale Monferrato Comune in Piedmont, Italy

Casale Monferrato is a town in the Piedmont region in Italy, in the province of Alessandria. It is situated about 60 km (37 mi) east of Turin on the right bank of the Po, where the river runs at the foot of the Montferrat hills. Beyond the river lies the vast plain of the Po valley.

Libya Country in north Africa

Libya, officially the State of Libya, is a country in the Maghreb region in North Africa, bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad to the south, Niger to the southwest, Algeria to the west, and Tunisia to the northwest. The sovereign state is made of three historical regions: Tripolitania, Fezzan and Cyrenaica. With an area of almost 1.8 million square kilometres (700,000 sq mi), Libya is the fourth largest country in Africa, and is the 16th largest country in the world. Libya has the 10th-largest proven oil reserves of any country in the world. The largest city and capital, Tripoli, is located in western Libya and contains over one million of Libya's six million people. The second-largest city is Benghazi, which is located in eastern Libya.

Italo-Turkish War 1911–12 war between the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Italy

The Italo-Turkish or Turco-Italian War, also known in Italy as was fought between the Kingdom of Italy and the Ottoman Empire from September 29, 1911, to October 18, 1912. As a result of this conflict, Italy captured the Ottoman Tripolitania Vilayet (province), of which the main sub-provinces (sanjaks) were Fezzan, Cyrenaica, and Tripoli itself. These territories became the colonies of Italian Tripolitania and Cyrenaica, which would later merge into Italian Libya.

World War I

In 1915, Cavallero was transferred to the Italian Supreme Command. A brilliant organizer and tactician, Cavallero became a Brigadier General and Chief of the Operations Office of the Italian Supreme Command in 1918. In this capacity, Cavallero was instrumental in forming plans that led to Italian victories at Piave and Vittorio Veneto during World War I. During his time as chief of the plan of Italian General Staff, he developed an antipathy with Pietro Badoglio, the Sottocapo di Stato Maggiore ( vice chief of the staff ) of the army.

Battle of Vittorio Veneto battle

The Battle of Vittorio Veneto was fought from 24 October to 3 November 1918 near Vittorio Veneto on the Italian Front during World War I. The Italian victory marked the end of the war on the Italian Front, secured the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and contributed to the end of the First World War just one week later. The battle led to the capture of 5,000+ artillery pieces and over 350,000 Austro-Hungarian troops, including 120,000 Germans, 83,000 Czechs and Slovaks, 60,000 South Slavs, 40,000 Poles, several tens of thousands of Romanians and Ukrainians, and 7,000 Italians and Friulians.

Pietro Badoglio Italian general during both World Wars and a Prime Minister of Italy

Marshal Pietro Badoglio, 1st Duke of Addis Abeba, 1st Marquess of Sabotino, was an Italian general during both World Wars and the first viceroy of Italian East Africa. With the fall of the Fascist regime in Italy, he became Prime Minister of Italy.

Interwar period

Cavallero retired from the army in 1919 but later rejoined in 1925, at which time he became Benito Mussolini’s Undersecretary of War. A committed fascist, Cavallero was made a senator in 1926 and in 1927 became a major general. After leaving the army for a second time, Cavallero became involved in business and diplomatic enterprises throughout the late 1920s and early 1930s.

Benito Mussolini Fascist leader of Italy 1922-43

Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Italy from the fascists' takeover of state power in 1922 until 1943, and Duce from 1919 to his execution in 1945 during the Italian civil war. As dictator of Italy and founder of fascism, Mussolini inspired several totalitarian rulers such as Adolf Hitler.

Major General is a military rank used in many countries. It is derived from the older rank of Sergeant Major General. The disappearance of the "sergeant" in the title explains the apparently confusing phenomenon whereby a Lieutenant General outranks a Major General while a Major outranks a Lieutenant.

Cavallero rejoined the army for the third and final time in 1937. Promoted to Lieutenant General, he became Commander of the combined Italian forces in Italian East Africa in 1938 and was made a full General in 1940.

Italian East Africa Italian possession in East Africa between 1936 and 1941

Italian East Africa was an Italian colony in the Horn of Africa. It was formed in 1936 through the merger of Italian Somaliland, Italian Eritrea, and the newly occupied Ethiopian Empire which became Italian Ethiopia.

World War II

Cavallero with Erwin Rommel Marshal Cavallero and Rommel.jpg
Cavallero with Erwin Rommel

After Italy entered World War II, on 6 December 1940 Cavallero replaced Pietro Badoglio as Chief of the Defence Staff; shortly after, he was sent to command the Italian forces involved in the unsuccessful Greco-Italian War until the spring of 1941. While he managed to halt the Greek advance, Cavallero was unable to break the stalemate until the German intervention. In the meantime, his role as Chief of Staff was filled by General Alfredo Guzzoni.

Chief of the Defence Staff (Italy)

The Chief of the Defence Staff of Italy refers to the Chiefs of the Defence Staff of the Italian Armed Forces.

Greco-Italian War 1940 and 1941 conflict between Italy and Greece

The Greco-Italian War took place between the kingdoms of Italy and Greece from 28 October 1940 to 23 April 1941. This local war began the Balkans Campaign of World War II between the Axis powers and the Allies. It turned into the Battle of Greece when British and German ground forces intervened early in 1941.

Alfredo Guzzoni Italian general

Alfredo Guzzoni was an Italian military officer who served in both World War I and World War II.

As Chief of the Italian Supreme Command, Cavallero worked closely with German Field Marshal Albert Kesselring; he had a rather conflicting relationship with Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, whose advance into Egypt after his success at the Battle of Gazala he opposed, advocating instead the planned invasion of Malta; his opinion was however discounted. Under Cavallero’s leadership, Italy’s military forces continued to perform poorly; nonetheless, he was promoted to Marshal of Italy in 1942 after the promotion of Rommel to Field Marshal (largely to prevent Rommel from out-ranking him). Despite having a good grasp on the problems inherent to the war in the Mediterranean that Italy had to fight, his acquiescence to Mussolini's views (for example his insistence on augmenting the Italian contingent fighting on the Eastern Front) led to a fatal dispersion of Italy's meager resources.

In January 1943, after the definitive loss of the African campaign and the setbacks suffered by the Italian Army in Russia, Cavallero was dismissed and replaced by General Vittorio Ambrosio. In response to Cavallero's dismissal, members of the Fascist leadership like Galeazzo Ciano, openly hostile to him, openly expressed their satisfaction.

After Mussolini’s government was toppled by the King, the newly appointed Prime Minister Pietro Badoglio ordered the arrest of Cavallero. In a document written in his own defense, Cavallero claimed he had opposed Mussolini and his regime. After the Armistice of Cassibile in September 1943, the Germans freed him. Kesselring offered Cavallero command of the forming armed forces of the Italian Social Republic, but discovery of the letter led some to question his loyalty.

In the morning of 14 September 1943, he was found dead by a gunshot in the garden of a hotel in Frascati, after having dined and talked with Kesselring the night before. It is still up to debate whether he committed suicide or was assassinated by the Germans. It seems, however, that he firmly expressed his will to refuse to continue collaborating with the Germans.


See also


  1. Scherzer 2007, p. 258.

Related Research Articles

Albert Kesselring German Luftwaffe Generalfeldmarschall during World War II

Albert Kesselring was a German Generalfeldmarschall of the Luftwaffe during World War II who was subsequently convicted of war crimes. In a military career that spanned both World Wars, Kesselring became one of Nazi Germany's most skilful commanders, and one of the most highly decorated, being one of only 27 soldiers awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds.

Heinrich von Vietinghoff German general

Heinrich Gottfried Otto Richard von Vietinghoff genannt Scheel was a German general (Generaloberst) of the Wehrmacht during World War II. He was a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves. Vietinghoff commanded the German troops in German-occupied Italy in 1945.

Ludwig Crüwell German general

Ludwig Crüwell was a German army general who served in the Afrika Korps of Nazi Germany during World War II. He was a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves. Crüwell surrendered to the British forces on 29 May 1942 and was interned at Trent Park, the British camp for high-ranking POWs where his conversations were subject to covert surveillance.

Theodor Busse German general

Ernst Hermann August Theodor Busse was a German officer during World War I and World War II.

Fritz Bayerlein German general

Fritz Hermann Michael Bayerlein was a general in the Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany during World War II. He initially served as a staff officer, including with Erwin Rommel in the Afrika Korps. He then commanded the 3rd Panzer Division, the Panzer Lehr Division and LIII Army Corps in the European theatre. Bayerlein was a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords.

Hans Speidel German general

Hans Speidel was a German general during the Second World War and the Cold War, who served as Supreme Commander of the NATO ground forces in Central Europe from 1957 to 1963.

Ettore Bastico Italian general

Ettore Bastico was an Italian military officer before and during World War II. In addition to being a general of the Royal Italian Army, he was also a senator and governor. He held high commands during the Second Italo-Abyssinian War (Ethiopia), the Spanish Civil War, and the North African Campaign.

Emilio De Bono Italian General

Emilio De Bono was an Italian General, fascist activist, Marshal, and member of the Fascist Grand Council. De Bono fought in the Italo-Turkish War, World War I, and the Second Italo-Abyssinian War.

Georg Stumme German general

Georg Stumme was a general in the Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany during World War II who briefly commanded the Axis forces at the beginning of the Second Battle of El Alamein. He took part in the Battle of France, the invasion of Yugoslavia and the invasion of the Soviet Union, Operation Barbarossa. He was a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, the highest award in the military and paramilitary forces of Nazi Germany during World War II.

Wilhelm Burgdorf German general

Wilhelm Emanuel Burgdorf was a German general in the Wehrmacht during World War II, who served as a commander and staff officer in the German Army (Wehrmacht) (army). In October 1944, Burgdorf assumed the role of the Chief of the Army Personnel Office (Heerespersonalamt) and Chief Adjutant to Adolf Hitler. In this capacity, he played a role in the forced suicide of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel. Burgdorf committed suicide in the Führerbunker on 2 May 1945 at the conclusion of the Battle of Berlin.

Axis leaders of World War II Overview Article of the Wikipedia

The Axis leaders of World War II were important political and military figures during World War II. The Axis was established with the signing of the Tripartite Pact in 1940 and pursued a strongly militarist and nationalist ideology; with a policy of anti-communism. During the early phase of the war, puppet governments were established in their occupied nations. When the war ended, many of them faced trial for war crimes. The chief leaders were Adolf Hitler of Germany, Benito Mussolini of Italy, and Emperor Hirohito of Japan. Unlike what happened with the Allies, there was never a joint meeting of the main Axis heads of government, although Mussolini and Adolf Hitler did meet on a regular basis.

Eberhard von Mackensen German general

Friedrich August Eberhard von Mackensen was a German general of the Wehrmacht during World War II who served as commander of the 1st Panzer Army and the 14th Army, and was a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves. Following the war, Mackensen stood trial for war crimes before a British military tribunal in Italy where he was convicted and sentenced to death, however the sentence was later commuted and Mackensen was released in 1952, and died in West Germany in 1969.

Joachim Lemelsen German general

Joachim Lemelsen was a German general during World War II who rose to army-level command.

Kurt von Tippelskirch German World War II general in the Wehrmacht

Kurt Oskar Heinrich Ludwig Wilhelm von Tippelskirch was a general in the Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany during World War II who commanded several armies and Army Group Vistula. He surrendered to the United States Army on 2 May 1945. Tippelskirch wrote several books, such as the History of the Second World War, 1951. He died in 1957.

Italo Gariboldi Italian general

Italo Gariboldi was an Italian senior officer in the Royal Army before and during World War II. He was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross by German Führer Adolf Hitler, for his leadership of Italian forces in the Battle of Stalingrad.

Otto Wöhler German general

Otto Wöhler was a German general in the Wehrmacht and a war criminal during World War II. He rose to a corps and army level commander.

Heinrich Kirchheim German general

Heinrich Kirchheim was a German generalleutnant who served in both World War I and World War II. He is also one of few German officers who were awarded the Pour le Mérite and the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. He also served as a deputy member on the "Court of Military Honour," a drumhead court-martial that expelled many of the officers involved in the 20 July Plot from the Army before handing them over to the People's Court.

Operation Achse military operation

Operation Achse, originally called Operation Alaric, was the codename for the German plan supported by Italian fascists to forcibly disarm the Italian armed forces after the armistice with the Allies in 1943. Several German divisions had entered Italy after the fall of Benito Mussolini in July 1943, while Italy was officially still an ally of Germany, despite the protests of the new Italian government under Pietro Badoglio.

Hubert Lanz German general

Karl Hubert Lanz was a German general during the Second World War, in which he led units in the Eastern Front and in the Balkans. After the war, he was tried for war crimes and convicted in the Southeast Case, specifically for several atrocities committed by units under his command in the Balkans. Released in 1951, he joined the liberal Free Democratic Party and served as its adviser on military and security issues.