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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Gukpa

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Go 'talia!
 

Vlad_Dracul1989

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In Vino Veritas

1928


"All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state."
  • Benito Mussolini, Speech to Chamber of Deputies (9 December 1928)

Italian with glass of wine in his hand. Common sight in Italy, but not quite common in this case. Il Duce already finished one bottle and opened another. Despite his last speech, which became very famous in next years, his mind was full of doubts. Many fascist industrial and social projects failed last years. Even propaganda has some limits, he knew too well.
Mighty sip from the bottle.
Italy must be great power, or there will be no Italy. But how to achieve it? Insufficient industry, no raw materials, oldschool bureaucrats who despised fascist ideals, old guards in military...
Sip.
First, he must start with people. There must be plenty more talented, fascist-minded people, able to help him. And plenty others to remove from their positions.
Sip. Bottle was empty. Again.
Il Duce turned his fat neck to paintings on wall. Legacy of Rennaissance era, every one of them.
He threw the bottle against oldest one.
Foreigners and scholars are so obssesed by times of Michelangelo and da Vinci. Like there is actually anything to celebrate. Italians fought and betrayed themselves for generations, for pitiful royal reasons, or worse, money. Another Roman Empire would be built easily, if all these bickering, pitiful city states managed to unite.
He returned to his comfortable chair and lighten up a cigarette. Il Duce tried to quit it, to be better example for his followers, especially children, but why to deny a simple pleasure? When he was in trenches, one cigarette was often a difference between reason and madness.
With alcohol in his veins and smoke in his lungs at last, thinking continued.
Opposition often accused him from incompetence, tyranny...selfishness. His life was quite pleasant now, sure. Luxury, women, nice and expensive things around him. Why not? He deserved it. When someone is able to get few thousand people and outmanoeuvre everyone to have absolute power...
His eyes flashed in anger.
No. No absolute power. That's the reason. They used me to stop red menace, and now, I am not useful so much anymore, so they will try to manage status quo and eventually, remove me.
That won't happen. Fascism will prevail.
Then little flag on his table caught his eyes. National flag with classic Savoyan coat of arms.
This thing will be removed first.

 
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Vlad_Dracul1989

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1 - Fortiter in Re


"I don't like the look of him."

  • Mussolini about Hitler, after their first encounter


1933

In early 1930s, Italy was in desperate situation. Great Depression showed it's teeth in Italy as well. Many of it's citizens kept their jobs thanks to fascist control of economy and thanks to developed welfare, however, some policies used during these hard times were not so much approved - lower wages, harsh anti-communist campaigns and even harsher actions against criminals in the south of the country.




This year didn't seem much different from previous one, at first. Fascist government pushed for more efficiency in industrial production, as was expected. Then happened something almost unbelievable, actually planned for years - many powerful people in Italian government and military found themselves removed from their positions.



Il Duce himself took control of secret police and diplomacy. And reorganized government wasted no time to shock even more people.



Italy signed co-operation treaty with Germany, where nazi party finally won and smashed whole opposition at once. There was just pure pragmatism behind this decision, since Il Duce personally ordered to cancel all other projects and started radical industrialization of Italy - which wouldn't be possible without cheap coal and steel. Italian scientist and engineers needed support as well, and angryGermans were natural choice.
Although technically allies from now, Italo-German relationship will remain more and more tense in next years.



Another decisions soon followed.



Fortunately, even changes inside the military proved to be calm and peaceful. Older and usually more monarchist officers were sent to retirement, while younger fascists took their places.

Astrakhan, Soviet Union

If it wasn't military base but city, group of foreigners such like this would received great attention from locals. Engineers and officer just finished explanations with technical datas about new plane they brought to this country - to sell.
"I assure you, in exchange of previously negotiated quantity of gold, I am really authorised not only to give your government one of these prototypes, but blueprint for every part of it. Engine, machine guins, everything. Exactly what your people want." said stoic italian officer as a matter-of-fact to his soviet counterpart from NKVD, who nodded after few seconds of silence.


"We are agreed then." said Italian with now polite smile on his face. Handshake followed. This task was not easy for him, but he didn't dare to question 'Operazione Sarmatia'.
 
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Vlad_Dracul1989

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2 - Damnant Quodnon Intelligunt


"Italy wants peace and quiet, work and calm. I will give these things with love if possible and with force if necessary."
  • Il Duce about Operazione Rubicone, known as Four-year plan


1933

First time from March on Rome, fascist policies proved to be more succesful than expected. Using many combined economic tools, economy was soon in better shape than rest of the Europe. New railways, roads, support for education and social welfare beyond comprehension quickly neutralized dissent all over country


Massive investments into research and engineering were natural continuations of such policy.



Trade improved significantly, although first from more traditional parts of industry, such like pasta and sauces.



Fascist confidence was now more than ever felt everywhere, especially from art and architecture, since amongst National Fascist Party's new policies was focus towards creation of 'new roman culture' based around nationalism, order and Rome's legacy.

Antonio Donghi's Woman at the Cafe (1932)



Palazzo dei Congressi (1932)

 
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JonathanJ6

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Can You reveal long term goals of il Duce?
 

Vlad_Dracul1989

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Deus Eversor

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italianize Lybia plox '-' and dont join germany <3
 

Vlad_Dracul1989

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3 - Aptarit Idonea Bello

"Thirty centuries of history allow us to look with supreme pity on certain doctrines which are preached beyond the Alps by the descendants of those who were illiterate when Rome had Caesar, Virgil and Augustus."
  • Mussolini's speech at the 5th Levantine Fair (6 September 1934) in reference to German Nordicism

1933 - 1936

When initial successes finally stabilized italian economy, italian Four-year Plan could finally began.



Merely a gesture, something what even Germans couldn't condemn, since they had own Non-aggression Pact with Poland, which Hitler never planned to honor.
Austria was still a problem, but Italy couldn't lost the face and Germany couldn't start war with almost no army. It was problem for another time.



It was suspected for years, that Yugoslavia supports anti-italian actions by it's Slav population, despite official claims.



This almost lead to Intelligence Minister Cesare Amé's replacement, but instead was decided, that secret service simply needs more funds to hire more agents and agitators.



First wave of industralisation was again more succesful than expected. State-owned factories, as well as fascist corporations grew each day.



After years and months of incidents, negotiations and useless promises, Italy declared war on Ethiopia, knowing for sure now, that world will do nothing.



This war wasn't about resources, but prestige. First Abyssinian War was a disaster to avenge.



In the meantime, industralisation of Italy continued. Factories, farms, shipyards, even merchant fleet needed more workers than ever.




British themselves were in difficult position: on the one hand, they were democratic nation and League's founding member, on the other hand, they were classic supporters of Realpolitik - British Empire still needed time to recover from wounds of both Great War and Great Depression, while every day more unstable France was in even worse situation.
Old Entente Cordiale needed more allies against resurgent Germany, and Stresa Front seemed as the only solid option for peace in Europe.

So now, they proposed embargo against Italy, knowing that war will end soon anyway, and Stresa Front will endure it. This could, of course, pushed Italians for closer relationship with Germany - full, sincere alliance, to directly connect fortunes of both countries.

Fortunately, such thing never happened.


Dino Grandi, ambassador to the United Kingdom, who later convinced Grand Council of Fascism, that closer relationship with Germany would be disaster.



Some countries understood, that's British resolution is just a circus for the public, while others not. Or those who would vote for anything British.






Vinceremo!


Italy needed more than new colonies, though. Italy needed control over Mare Nostrum, and since industry and land army had top priority, aircraft carriers seemed like wise choice. This decision was made years before, and was official reason of admiral Cavagnari's dismissal. Unofficial reason was more complicated - Il Duce didn't anymore trust anyone he saw loyal more to the King than to himself.

Hopeless traditionalist, admiral Domenico Cavagnari in 1933, same day when he was replaced by Arturo Riccardi, a specialist of aerial warfare.



Four carriers were planned - Aquila, Sparviero, Europa and Falco. Four upgraded older battleships and four new, fast aircraft carriers as the future backbone of Italian Navy.



Aquila-class aircraft carriers were completely new design, both fast and elegant, based on never built Vittorio Veneto-class battleship's hull.



It took few months, but British finally lifted LN sanctions before spring 1936. Italian economy was not harmed at all.


League of Nations again showed being a completely worthless thing.



 
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DKM

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subbed

Good luck.
 

Tommy4ever

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This is great so far! I love playing as Fascist Italy.
 

Vlad_Dracul1989

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4 - Qui Audet Adipiscitur

"There seems to be no question that [Mussolini] is really interested in what we are doing and I am much interested and deeply impressed by what he has accomplished and by his evidenced honest purpose of restoring Italy."
  • FDR to US Ambassador to Italy

1936 - 1939

Rearmament of Germany and further industralisation of Italy still continued uninterrupted, when Spanish Civil War started, following victory of Popular Front in elections and chaos mixed with atrocities comitted by anarchists.
Sadly, military coup was succesful just partially, and full-scaled civil war started. Many countries intervened, one way or another, like 'mysterious' submarines sinking supply ships.




In total numbers, Italian intervention was largest one - whole divisions were sent, air squadrons included. It was also not just German, but Italian planes, which transported Franco's army from Africa to Spanish front. Without this operation, rebellion would end much differently.



Republicans even tried to convince Spanish people that so called 'volunteers' are invasion army, but officially, Corpo Truppe Volontaire was under Franco's command, and followed orders of his and other nationalist generals



Asian battlefields were too far away, but were too important to pass for both Axis 'allies'.



Sino-German Cooperation was not strong enough. If Krauts can abandon friendly power to it's fate, betray it, just like that, what that means for Italy?



Japanese now had better weapons, training and stronger industry, but Chinese had virtually unlimited manpower. Most importantly for Il Duce, Germany supported Japanese for their own goals, against USSR, where would gain land and influence only Germany, so more and more suspicious Mussolini rather ordered another secret operazione, to give Chinese Nationalist blueprints and materiel necessary to stop the invaders.



Empire of Japan very soon found itself in brutal atrittion war they couldn't possibly win from very start.



Meanwhile, Italy initiated own rearmament programme.

Cannone da 75/32 modello 37


Alpini, an elite mountain warfare military corps of the Italian Army.






Battle hardened italian 'volunteers' returned with stories full of honor and glory. And about other things, not allowed to publish anywhere.



"Bad blood does not mind"



World seen Italy's defense of Austria in 1934 as the only visible success of collective security in Europe, but in 1938, situation was entirely different. Wehrmacht was prepared to invade the country in matter of hours, Austrian nazi supporters were seen everywhere and no one could deny, that whole time after fall of Austria-Hungary, German-speaking population wanted to join Greater Germany.
If Italy would refuse, no German coal or steel would be sent to Italy and nation would be forced to ally with Britain and especially with hated France.
That was simply unacceptable.



Treaty of Munich was very useful for Italy's foreign policy: first, once again Britain and France showed major weakness and zero desire for war, even when sovereign states of Europe itself were consumed by it's strong neighbours. Second, it gave more time to everyone, especially Italy. And finally, it convinced Il Duce, that perhaps it would be really better to fight amongst themselves.
Why to spill noble Roman blood for goals of arrogant, still half-barbaric people beyond the Alps?



Four italian aircraft carriers, powerful technological miracles, were finally fully operational in 1939. Four battleships and four carriers of Italian Navy were more than enough to control Mediterranean Sea from both Royal Navy and Marine Nationale.





Aquila-class aircraft carrier

Displacement: 23,900 t (standard)
28,200 t (full load)
Length: 235.5 m
Beam: 30 m
Draft: 7.3 m
Installed power: 113,000 kW
Propulsion: 4 × geared steam turbines
8 × boilers
4 × shafts
Speed: 56 km/h
Range: 10,200 km at 33 km/h
Complement: 1,420 (107 officers)
Armament: 8 × 135 mm 45 cal guns
12 × 65 mm 64 cal guns
132 × 20 mm 65 cal AA-guns
Armor: Deck: 8 cm
Aircraft carried: 51


As everyone except Chamberlain expected, Germans invaded rest of Czechoslovakian rump state.



After decades of italian influence, control of economy and systematic italianization, Italy was confident about annexation and full colonization process.
But Zog simply couldn't resist urge to play brave monarch. Petty king of petty kingdom wanted to showed some teeth. Or tooth, better to say. One tiny tooth.



Germans still wanted more. And more. War seemed inevitable now.



Despite all italian attempts to persuade (to them) friendly Poles into different policy, they accepted British offer to guarantee their independence. Like old Entente powers were willing or even able to help. After Rhineland, Abyssinia, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Lithuania...how they could expect a difference?

In the end, they sent, too late in addition, tiny bank loan and literally few worthless planes. They were willing to fight for a Poland to the last...Pole.



Most of the Italian divisiones amassed around Yugoslavian borders, only few of them guarded Franco-Italian borders, reason of which wasn't known yet.



Well-trained, well-equipped MVSN units were known for ther ruthlessness as much as for their unquestionable obedience.



Then, 1st April 1939, Italy left Pact of Steel. Shocked and furious Germans received just a few cold words about broken promises, especially not starting war before 1942, which seemed more likely everyday, especially after Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.



"Many enemies. Much honor."



It begins.

Everyone expected Poland be the first target, but surprisingly, it started with French declaration of war. Germans called it 'Strasbourg Incident', in fact, series of many incursions into Alsace-Lorraine, authorised by certain general, member of German resistance. They hoped for bloody but quick conflict, which would remove national socialist party's power, while keeping all territorial gains.
But all this was revealed much later, years after world war.



Furor Teutonicus indeed.













 
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Tommy4ever

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It begins!

Having left the Pact of Steel, will Italy support the allies against the troublesome Germans? Perhaps bargaining for a free hand in bullying smaller Balkan powers?

I know historically the Italians were playing both sides until the very end of the 1930s, often appearing open to joining an anti-German coalition.

Or will you go your own way?
 

Ironhide G1

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This is cool.
 

Vlad_Dracul1989

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5 - Qui Tacet Consentire

What a man! I have lost my heart!... Fascism has rendered a service to the entire world... If I were Italian, I am sure I would have been with you entirely from the beginning of your victorious struggle against the bestial appetites and passion of Leninism.

  • Winston Churchill, after a visit to Rome (1927)

1939

While Second World War started a little unexpectedly, first results were even less expected. German war machine quickly smashed Allied lines and conquered Low Countries in very first weeks and Panzers then cut deep into demoralized France.




This was exactly the right moment to claim new provinces. After years of border and diplomatic incidents, Yugolavian state couldn't expect different italian reaction. Officially, though, Italian invasion was merely 'intervention' to 'protect innocent civilians' against 'serbian ethnic terror'.



Recruitment poster for Milizia Volontaria per la Sicurezza Nazionale, known as Blackshirts. Loyal only to the National Fascist Party and Il Duce alone.



Bulks of italian forces distracted most of Yugoslavian forces. This allowed Littorio division to quickly seize Sarajevo and continue to Belgrade, unopposed.



Meanwhile, it was finally clear that America is not so isolationist as it's so 'honest' president claims.



After two days of bitter defensive fight in Belgrade, perhaps just hour before Littorio's withdrawal, Italy finally forced Yugoslavia to surrender.



With all key cities captured, destroyed infrastracture and captured supplies, Prince-Regent Paul had no real choice but to sign 'peace treaty'.



Italian units marching through city of Ragusa (Dubrovnik). Along with city of Spalato (Split), city's territory was immediately annexed and integrated into Italy proper.



Bitter discussions were about future of so called 'Slovenia'. Many irredentists prefered annexation of Lubiana (Ljubljana) into Italy, but others rather wanted to prevent annexation of Northern Slovenia by Nazi Germany. Slovenian puppet state was rather proclaimed, to better resist any German claims over it.



All territories not annexed directly into Italy or prepared for colonization were remade into italian puppet state, as source of raw materials and cheap labour and eventually, to be annexed after planned harsh decades of italianization.
Hate amongst local Slavs was especially helpful. Rather than rebel against mutual enemy, Croatians and Slovenians always gladly, always loyally helped with any Serbian or Montenegrin rebellion.
So much, that horrified Italian commanders were forced to often intervene, to prevent ethnic cleansings.



With France before total collapse, there was still question of Poland. Question solved by temporary, unholy alliance.



1st July 1939, day when France rather accepted defeat than bitterly fight from North Africa.




If France fell so quickly, how long Poland may survive?



It still created another window of opportunity. British Empire now faced Blitz against Home Islands and tried to mobilize all colonies and dominions, with no time for offensive plans anywhere.
Anyway, Italy always considered Greece its sphere of influence, and couldn't allow anglophile greek government to endanger fascist plans - if Britain would send troops to Greece or just tried to control Crete, Italy would be forced to declare war on them, with every other consequences.



Ribbentrop soon approached Italian ambassador to Germany, Count Ciano, to sign Tripartite Pact - basically another Pact of Steel, this time with really 'steel' expectation, that Italy will immediately declare war to Allies.

Ciano told him plainly Duce's short answer: "No."



There was one particular state, outside both British and German spheres of influence, and Italy could surely use some help. For a price, of course.



Britain seemed more desperate every day. Blitz over England continued, when they officially created French government in exile.



Greek prime minister Metaxas refused to sign peace treaty with so cruel conditions, so Italy created completely new government, which accepted both Italian and Bulgarian territorial claims.



First it seemed ridiculous, that some unimportant autocratic officer would gain any influence, but it seemed that desperate British were open to do anything against Germany's interests.

Italy was again pushed to do something. Irredentist/fascist dream about new Roman Empire now seemed like pure necessity for Italy's survival.




"The Fascist state is a will to power and empire. The Roman tradition is here a powerful force. According to the Doctrine of Fascism, empire is not only territorial or military or mercantile concept, but a spiritual and moral one. One can think of an empire, that is, a nation, which directly or indirectly guides other nations, without the need to conquer a single square kilometre of territory."

 
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Vlad_Dracul1989

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It begins!

Having left the Pact of Steel, will Italy support the allies against the troublesome Germans? Perhaps bargaining for a free hand in bullying smaller Balkan powers?

I know historically the Italians were playing both sides until the very end of the 1930s, often appearing open to joining an anti-German coalition.

Or will you go your own way?
Italy's best interests are only things what matters. Why to fight already pitiful, dying British Empire at all?
 

Vlad_Dracul1989

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6 - Victis Honor

"I am not a collector of deserts!"
  • Benito Mussolini to Pierre Laval (5 January 1935) about proposed Ethiopian border

1939 - 1940

Churchill, of course, still refused to accept French decision, and from some reason, he thought that most wise approach is to attack them.



Even without strange British logic how to solve possibility of unholy Franco-German alliance, vultures from elsewhere already attacked fallen nation.



But it was Battle of Dakar, Operation Menace, which forced italian hand. Il Duce was willing to let Pétain to solve internal problems, re-create French army able at least to stop native uprisings in Africa, but British incursions against fellow Great War ally was too much. He, much like every person in Great Fascist Council hold no special love for proud Frenchmen, but it painly resembled italian 'Mutilated Victory', when British Empire, so called ally, betrayed whole italian nation.






Mussolini during his New Year's Eve Speech, where he declared, that Italy will stop 'French Civil War' and 'foreign jackals' incursions' at any cost and for sake of both Italy and France.



Plan was simple - motorized divisions of Imperio Esercito will quickly take control over chaotic Algeria and as much French West Africa as possible, while (mostly elite Bersaglieri divisions) will invade France itself.
There was question of German reaction, but Hitler decided to do nothing. Italy didn't sign Tripartite Treaty and apparently kept own agenda. But as long as this 'agenda' is not against German interests, moreover is against British ones...




Only true resistance was met during Syrian landings, where Imperia Maria encountered Marine Nationale's battlefleet under Darlan's command. Fortunately, bad weather prevent italian dive bombers to find their targets and naturally, artillery shells mostly couldn't found their targets as well. Loses were on both sides, but no ship was lost or seriously damaged.

Later, it was known as 'Phoney Battle'.




I
talian intervention amongst many things allowed to test new weapons without much risks or interference -- like Fiat-Ansaldo's new tank prototypes.



It took only two months, and Imperia Esercita fully controlled Vichy France and North Africa. When Italy presented Marechál Pétain conditions in Treaty of Grenoble, French representatives were shocked: not because Italy claimed French colonies, French Savoy and Corsica, but because Italians in secret part of Treaty confirmed Alsace-Lorraine as sovereign French territory and promised to return it, same as colonies (except Tunisia), as soon as 'other forces occupying France' will be defeated.



Treaty of Grenoble was great italian military and diplomatic victory. British still didn't dare to declare war against Fascist Italy, Gaullists lost any tiny influence they're achieved so far, and both homeland and colonial empire grew. Italian Atlantic bases meant that if Italy will join the Axis, Royal Navy will face both Kriegsmarine and Imperia Marina in one ocean, in spite of Gibraltar.



When British couldn't harm Germany from the south and Italy against all expectations didn't declared war against Allies, they tried it through the north. Wehrmacht's response was swift and deadly. Norway joined Allies and surprisingly repelled German landings, but Hitler controlled the Baltic Sea, and swedish ore found it's way even without Narvik.



Before Christmas 1940, Japan decided it's fate. Later they claimed it was all American fault, when Cordell Hull delivered them unacceptable conditions, but it wouldn't happen without Second Sino-Japanese War, which was slowly turning into horriffic meat grinder of Japanese soldiers.



"Yesterday, December 14th, 1940 - a date which will live in infamy - the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

...

I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 14th, 1940, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire."

President Franklin D. Roosevelt - December 14, 1940

 
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