The doyen war historian, Gerhard Weinberg once famously stated that there are way more myths about World War Two than there are facts, and nowhere is his statement more relevant than when dealing with Italy’s participation in that war. So much nonsense has been written about the Italians by popular historians and even, professors of prestigious universities who should know better, that to untangle truth from fiction will in itself, require a lifetime of study.
Here is what he has to say about one such myth:
“Nevertheless, there is far too much denigration of the performance of Italy’s forces during the conflict. It was the Germans who insisted on the substitution of their enigma encoding machines that the British were reading for Italian ciphers that had not been cracked. As Dr James Sadkovich has shown, the performance of the Italian navy and army was not as poor as much of the contemporary joking and subsequent writings suggest. Missing from most of the literature is the participation of Italian army units in the fighting on the Eastern Front, and the extent to which the heavy casualties those units suffered contributed to the rapid evaporation of support for the fascist system among the Italian public.”
1. That the Italian Armed Forces were largely ineffectual during WW2.
2. That Italian generals were ignoramuses and incompetent.
3. That Mussolini was an opportunist who didn’t know what he was doing.
4. That the Italian Fascist hierarchy was corrupt and incompetent.
5. That the Italian soldier did not want to fight and would have preferred to cook pasta and play the mandolin to his sweetheart.
6. That the Italians preferred to surrender than to fight.
7. That the average Italian soldier was a coward.
8. That the Italian Royal Navy was no match for the British Royal Navy.
9. That the Italian Royal Airforce had inferior planes to that of the British.
10. That the Italian Armed Forces were poorly led.
11. That the British were never defeated by the Italians in battle.
12. That Rommel and Montgomery were geniuses.
13. That Marshal Graziani was an ignoramus and Rommel the tactical genius.
14. That the Anglo-Americans were better soldiers than the Italians.
15. That the Germans rescued the Italians from defeat in North Africa and in Greece; they did not.
16. That Anglo-American historians never lie and falsify history.
17. That Anglo-Americans war movies depicting the Italians are historically accurate and true.