*** war and social upheaval: World War II -- Italy war damage

World War II: Italian War Damage

Italy Italian World War II damage
Figure 1.--Italy was devastated by World War II. Most of the damage occurred after the Italian surrender (September 1943). The Germans occuped Italy and the Allies conducted a campaign up the peninsulks to drive them north. Even after Rome was liberated (June 1944), another year of fighting continued. Many towns and villages were destroyed in the fighting.

Italy was not a rich country before the outbreak of World War II. The country despite Fascist propaganda to the contrary was not prepared militarily to enter the War or to support an extended War effort. The war was a disaster for Italy. Over 0.3 million Italian military personel were killed or missing. Thre were bombing raids before the Allied invasion (September 1943). Most of the civilian casualties and destruction occured, however, after the Allied invasion. Much of this occurred in connection with Allied assaults on German positions. The Germans set up a series of defensive lines as the Allies pushed then north. The Allies to minimize battelfield losses would use their superority in artillery and air power to heavily shell German positions. As a result of the inaccuracy of aerial bombing at the time, large areas around or near German positions including towns and villages were destroyed. And then the Germans destroyed basic infrastructure before withdrawing. The result was an Italy with large areas devestated by the War and befift of basic infrastructure. We believe that much of the damage was south of Rome as the Allies engaged in the costly battles up the Italian Peninsula. About 70,000 civilians were killed. Such numbers while a tragedy were relatively small compared to other countries devastated by the War. The physical damage in Italy, however, was very substantial. Many towns and villages were heavily damaged or competely destroyed. One estimate suggests that about 10 percent of the physical industrial plant of Italy was destroyed in the fighting. [Harrison, p. 37.] That was, however, small compared to Germany. The Allies began bombing Italy during the War, after securing bases on North Africa, primarily beginning in 1943. While Italy was bombed, the cities were not pulverized like German cities. Italy was not heavily industrialized like Germany and the industrial cities were in the north. The primary objective of the Allied boming was pulverize Germn industry. So much of activity of Allied air assetts in Italy was on the Strategic Bombing Offensive against Germany. The Germans had to protect against not only raids from Britain, but after September 1943, raids from Italy. puttinmg more pressure on the over strectched Luftwaffe. In Italy the Allied air assetts were primarily used to supoort ground attacks abd to intedict the German supply lines down the Italian peninsula. Much of the bombing was gthusd directed at the communication and transport infrastructure. A major target was transport nodes and marshalling yards which of course weere located in and around the cities.


Harrison, Mark. The Economics of World War II: Six Great Powers in International Comparison (Cambridge University Press, 1999).


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Created: 7:13 PM 2/2/2008
Last updated: 5:12 PM 4/16/2023