The Propagander ™ FAQ
How Did the Pact of Steel Effect Germany and Italy?
It was a disaster for all involved.
1. Before Mussolini joined forces with Hitler, he had great prestige with the rest of the world. But little by little he surrendered to Hitler's desires. Mussolini's ambitions in Africa were utilized by Hitler to draw him away from the other powers and into his own orbit. This resulted in a series of moves which whittled away at Mussolini's prestige and left him, ultimately, as a mere lackey to the German Fuehrer:
A. He abandoned Austria, whose independence he had swore to defend by treaty, allowing Hitler to gain a great strategic victory.
B. He joined with Hitler to support Franco in the Spanish Civil War, fomenting armed conflict on the Continent.
C. While pretending to be a neutral arbitrator at the Munich Conference, he worked behind the backs of Britain and France to help Hitler achieve his aims. When this subterfuge was eventually revealed, Mussolini's stock fell still further.
D. The very last thing Mussolini wanted was a Europe-wide conflict. However, when Hitler decided on military action, Mussolini had already surrendered any leverage he may have once had, and was thus powerless to influence events. By the time Hitler invaded Poland, Mussolini could only react to Hitler's initiatives.
E. The Italian people did not have their heart in Hitler's war, and wanted little to do with the persecution of the Jews. As Hitler's influence over Mussolini increased, he went from being an extremely popular leader to an object of derision in the eyes of his own people.
F. While Hitler's assistance to Mussolini was of value a number of times when the Italians found themselves in trouble, the end result of Mussolini's toadying to Hitler was Italy's utter defeat on all fronts, his own removal from power, eventual execution, and the public humiliation of his corpse. Things could not have turned out worse for Mussolini or the Italian people.
1. It was Mussolini's friendship with Hitler that allowed the German Fuehrer to get in a position in which he felt confident enough to initiate his aggressive moves. Without Mussolini, Hitler would have been isolated diplomatically, Austria would have still been independant, and the Munich Conference would most probably not have been so favorable to him. Without the denuding of the Czechs at Munich, Hitler's strategic position would have made any move on Poland much more problematic, and WW2 might well have been avoided. WW2 led to Germany's total defeat, and it was Mussolini who enabled Hitler in his pursuit of said war.
From German Luftwaffe Generalfeldmarschall Albert Kesselring's US SBS interview: Kesselring:
I spent three and one-half years in Italy and believe I know the Italian soldier well. Apart from excellent individual achievements, I have seen failures in all fields of the Italian armed forces which were simply unbelievable. Then you have to add a Southern stubbornness which does not like to accept advice. It would have been best if the Italians had remained neutral. If, however, we wanted to hold the Mediterranean we would have to make it a main theater of operations, knowing how important the Mediterranean was for the British. Here again, the peculiar traits of character of the Italians showed up in that they would not accept any help and thought that they could tackle the job themselves. They did ask for help now and then but when a division arrived, they said 'No, one division is not enough.' . . . . But I have to be fair to the Italians. Their equipment was so miserable that, in all fairness, you could not expect anything better from such an army.
2. While Mussolini's assistance in pre-war diplomatic maneuvering had been of great value to Hitler, Italy's military alliance was nothing but a hindrance to Hitler's conquests. Mussolini proved himself to be nothing but a liability as an ally. There is not one instance where Mussolini was an asset to Hitler militarily.
A. When Mussolini, after dragging his feet, realized that Hitler was about to conquer France without him, he finally mobilized his military and invaded France. However, instead of helping Hitler, his forces were soon being pushed back. Hitler, not for the last time, was forced to divert resources to save Mussolini's 'honor,' and then had to put up with his whining when he didn't get the spoils he was after.
B. Mussolini, without consulting Hitler, invaded Greece, but once again found himself in trouble. Not only did the Greeks stop his offensive, but they were soon pushing his troops back into Italy. Hitler was again forced to send troops to pull Mussolini's noodles off of the stove top. This set back his timetable for Barbarossa by a number of months, and led directly to the disaster of the Eastern Front. Had it not been for the necessity to assist Mussolini, Barabarossa may have been successful, and this could well have changed everything.
From Generalfeldmarschall Wilhelm Keitel's IMT testimony:
We were drawn into the war against Greece and against Yugoslavia in the spring of 1941 to our complete surprise and without having made any plans. Let me take Greece first: I accompanied Hitler during his journey through France for the meetings with Marshal Petain and with Franco on the Spanish border, and during that journey we received our first news regarding the intention of Italy to attack Greece. The journey to Florence was immediately decided upon, and upon arrival in Florence, we received Mussolini's communication, which has already been mentioned by Reich Marshal Goering, namely, that the attack against Greece had already begun. I can only say from my own personal knowledge that Hitler was extremely angry about this development and the dragging of the Balkans into the war and that only the fact that Italy was an ally prevented a break with Mussolini. I never knew of any intentions to wage war against Greece.
C. Mussolini's African adventure also drew troops away from more important fronts, and once again Hitler was forced to sacrifice resources that would have been better utilized on the Eastern Front.
D. When Italy was invaded by the Western Allies, Hitler again found himself in the position of having to assist his fumbling partner. When Italy finally collapsed, and Mussolini was ousted from power, Hitler again had to divert resources to defend his 'soft underbelly.'
Conclusion: The Pact of Steel was a raw deal for the two men who were its principles, and for the two peoples unfortunate enough to have been cursed with such miscalculating leaders. Germany, Italy, Hitler, Mussolini, and the peoples of Europe and the world, would all have been better off if the Pact of Steel had never been signed.
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Walther Johann von Löpp
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FB: Horrific 20th Century History
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