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Primary Sources: World War II

Italy in World War 2

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The participation of Italy in the Second World War was characterized by a complex framework of ideology, politics, and diplomacy, while its military actions were often heavily influenced by external factors. Italy joined the war as one of the Axis Powers in 1940, as the French Third Republic surrendered, with a plan to concentrate Italian forces on a major offensive against the British Empire in Africa and the Middle East, known as the "parallel war" while expecting the collapse of British forces in the European theatre. The Italians bombed Mandatory Palestine, invaded Egypt, and occupied British Somaliland with initial success. However the war carried on and German and Japanese actions in 1941 led to the entry of the Soviet Union and the United States, respectively, into the war, thus foiling the Italian plan of forcing Britain to agree to a negotiated peace settlement.

The Italian dictator Benito Mussolini was aware that Fascist Italy was not ready for a long conflict, as its resources were reduced by successful but costly pre-WWII conflicts: the pacification of Libya (which was undergoing Italian settlement), intervention in Spain (where a friendly fascist regime had been installed), and the invasion of Ethiopia and Albania. However, he opted to remain in the war as the imperial ambitions of the Fascist regime, which aspired to restore the Roman Empire in the Mediterranean (the Mare Nostrum), were partially met by late 1942. By this point, Italian influence extended throughout the Mediterranean.

Book Sources: Italy - WWII

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