The German occupation of Italy, 1943-45: Conflicting authorities and contrasting strategies in the management of resources and supplies

Alessandro Salvador, Jacopo Calussi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The occupation of Northern Italy after the armistice of 8 September 1943 created a complicated situation not only insofar as the country was divided into the south, occupied by the Allies, and the north, occupied by the Axis, but also insofar as occupiers and collaborating authorities in the North struggled to find a common line of action.

After the military occupation, the German authorities created a puppet state, the Repubblica Sociale Italiana (RSI), controlled by Mussolini and the Fascist party. While the Germans saw this authority as an effective way of controlling the population and assisting in the fight against the growing resistance movement, the Fascists took the chance to promote an ideological and political renovation of Fascism. In fact, the RSI argued for the implementation of more effective economic and political reforms to return to the roots of the Fascist movement.

Conflicts between the aims of the German authorities, pragmatically trying to maintain public order and manage resources and supplies for winning the war, and the Italians attempting to achieve political and ideological goals, can be observed on many levels. Moreover, the Fascists did not represent a united front in trying to contain the occupying authorities; they were themselves split into various local factions. The complexity of the struggles between fascist central authorities, local dignitaries, and occupiers increased as both occupiers and occupied people participated in criminal activities related to the exploitation of resources and the black market.

This chapter highlights these struggles by analysing documents from the Italian central archives and several local archives related to resource management, supplies to the population, the relations between German and Italian authorities, as well as specific attitudes in local contexts. The goal is to show how the political and ideological aims of the Italian fascist government, the individualistic goals of local authorities, and widespread popular involvement in criminal exploitation of resources stood in the way of German attempts to exploit Northern Italy to win the war.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGerman-occupied Europe in the Second World War
EditorsRaffael Scheck, Fabien Théofilakis, Julia Torrie
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781351385893
ISBN (Print)9781138501492
Publication statusPublished - 04 Mar 2019


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