World War II Italian Campaign: Civilians (1943-45)

World War II Italian civilians
Figure 1.-This press photo photograph in 1944 shows an 8 year old Italian boy who had removed dYtonators from German hand grenades. It is not exactly clear why he did this, but as the the Allies moved up the peninsula there was huge quantities of ordinance scatted by both sides all over Italy.

Italian civilans began to feel te impsact of the War from a very early period. The first impact was war casualties and POWS. Then shortages began to appear. As the Axis position in North Africa deteriorated, air strikes began on Italian cities. It was the Allied invasion of southern Italy that finally brought the war home to Italy. The home froint suddently became the front line. Hitler was at first prepared to withdraw up the peninsula. Fiekld Marsg\hall Kesserling convinced him to contest the Allied invasiion even in the South and the American Salerno landings almost failed. What followed was a extended campaiugn all the way up the peninsula. Kesserling used the rugged Italian terraine to good effect iun slowing the Allied drive north. The Allies focused on the cross-Channel invasion of France were not prepared to commiot sufficent forces to Italy to overwealm the German defences. The capaign proved deadly to Italian civilians. The Germans looked on them as traitors and took out their hatred on civilians. Civilians were brutalized even shot. And ascthecResistahce began to form effective units, there were a number of German reprisals on whole villages andd hostages. These were conducted by the Wehrmacht, not the SS. Thus the Italian people experienced some of the same brutality thatv they had imposed on other people. The Germans turned towns and villages as strong points. The Allies used their advantages in artillery ad air power to pand the town and villages where the Germans set up their defenses. And World War II could not be targeted with great precession. The result was not only wrecked town, but terrible civilian casualties. Civilans were caught in vrossfire as well as exposed to landmines. The Italian economy collapsed and even basic food stuffs became difficukt to obtain.


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Created: 10:09 AM 7/14/2009
Last updated: 10:09 AM 7/14/2009