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Greco-Italian War

Small town in Greece

 Occupied town in northern Greece,  Spring, 1941.

 

The Greco-Italian War

(28 October 1940 to 23 April 1941)

 

So who really won the war?

 

That’s a question that has plagued military historians for years. On October 28, 1940 a cocky but under strength Italian force crossed the Albanian border to invade northern Greece in the region of the Pindus Mountains. The Italians expected it to be a quick and relatively easy campaign lasting only a few weeks. What they got instead was a big surprise. The Greeks were ready and waiting for them and managed, within a month, to push them back across the border into Albania.  From mid-January to April 6, there was an uneasy stalemate with neither side strong enough to overcome the other. But by mid-January, General Cavallero was able to report to Mussolini that the front was finally stabilized. Throughout February, the Greeks had made some small gains but it seemed that the Greeks could go no further even if they had wanted to. Try as they might, they simply could not defeat the Italians. By the end of February, they were running low on artillery shells, manpower and logistics. Greek resistance was coming to an end in Albania. The question was: how long could the Greeks continue to hold out?

 

The Greeks had pinned their hopes on their ally Yugoslavia, to help them push the Italians out of Albania and into the sea. They hoped that if they could maintain the pressure on the Italians, together with the forces of Yugoslavia, they could drive the Italians out of Albania and then release men and arms from that front to counter the growing threat from the Bulgarians and especially the Germans. But with the rapid fall of Yugoslavia to the German 2nd Army, and the Italian 2nd and 9th Armies plus overwhelming air power,  its surrender on the April 17, dashed the last remaining hope the Greeks had for victory against the Italians.

 

The Greek general Papagos and senior commanders knew they were not able to defeat the Italians on their own. They had some sporadic assistance from the British, but it was a case of too little too late. Besides, having the British involved was a two-edged sword for the Greeks because it meant that it could also draw the Germans into the conflict. With the sudden collapse of Yugoslavia, all hope for a final victory for the Greeks, collapsed as well.

 

They could only wait for the inevitable. And it came.

 

After the failure of the Greek Tepelene Offensive, the Greek Army of the Epirus weakened while the Italians were building up their strength.  On March 9, the Italians launched a major attack called the Primavera or Spring Offensive. But while the offensive could not dislodge the Greeks from their positions (though it came very close to doing so) it had seriously weakened the Greek Army of the Epirus. Munitions supplies were running out. The Greek Army of the Epirus had less than a month’s supply of artillery shells left and manpower was becoming harder to replace.

 

Throughout all this the British were dilly-dallying, urging the Greeks on to fight the Italians with promises of support, pouring cold water on any talk of a cease-fire or armistice with the Italians or any peace initiatives from the Germans, all the while promising men and material that was paltry. On the 15th January 1941, General Wavell offered the Greeks two to three divisions, but Metaxas the Greek Prime Minister, wanted at least nine. He declined the British offer as being insufficient to prevent German intervention but enough to encourage it. Meanwhile the British were involved in all sorts of shenanigans with the Greeks, the Yugoslavs, the Bulgarians and the Turks, trying desperately to set up some sort of coalition or Salonika Front; in other words, getting others to do the fighting for them at the least cost to themselves; what has become known to military historians as “the British way of fighting”.

 

By the end of March, Greek resistance was beginning to crumble. The Italians were slowly pushing the Greeks back at certain weak points along the front even before the start of Operation Marita (the German intervention in Greece). When the final shove came, Greek and British resistance crumbled quickly, like a pack of cards that needed that last final push.

 

Because the Italian Army was bleeding the Greeks white and pinning down the bulk of its forces, the Germans had an easy time of it through Greece thanks to Italian tenacity and courage. The Greeks began to retreat everywhere almost immediately, while the British and Commonwealth forces, after offering several days of resistance, couldn’t retreat fast enough to their ships for the relative safety of Crete.

 

The Germans entered Athens on the 27th of April, and the Italians, soon after. The Greeks officially surrendered to both the Germans  and the Italians. Italy then proceeded to occupy two thirds of the country with the remaining one third given to Germany and Bulgaria.

 

So who really won the Greco-Italian war?

 

Many Greeks will tell you blindly and as an article of faith that they had won the war because they had successfully repulsed the Italian invasion. And yet, it was their country that was occupied mostly by the Italians. How is it possible to win a war and lose two-thirds of your country?  How is it possible for the supposed “victors” of the Greco-Italian war, the Greeks, to stand and watch helplessly as Italian troops entered Athens and parade in front of the Acropolis? How is it possible to sign a surrender document to the Italians on April 23 and call it a “victory”?

 

How indeed? By a twist of logic.  To their way of thinking, because the initial Italian thrust was pushed back into Albania, no Greek land was occupied by the Italians. So this means in their minds that they had actually won the war. But if one follows this logic, Germany must have won the First World War because no Allied Army had actually entered upon German soil. This is pure nonsense and wishful thinking on the part of the Greeks.

 

Their second line of reasoning goes like this. “Oh, the Italians were only able to invade Greece because the Germans helped them on April 6 when they entered Greece.”  The simple answer to this is: so what?  Were not the Italians and the Germans allies?  Did not the Italian Army hold down and wear out the bulk of the Greek Army in Albania, making intervention much easier for the Germans?

 

Thirdly, through obscurantism. By casting all types of negative and overly critical dispersions upon the Italians: i.e. their lack of preparedness, their supply problem, their morale problem, their equipment problem, their organizational problem, their leadership problem, the Mussolini problem, the Ciano problem, in fact, the whole fascist hierarchy problem and just about anything else they can find including the kitchen sink! Or they focus in on and exaggerate Italian deficiencies and set-backs. It’s the same old song played over and over again, ad nausea; a game by the way that many Anglo-American authors, like to play as well.

 

If the Italians had, in say January or February, simply said: “Oh, this is too much! We’re packing our bags and going home!”  then yes, it would have been a clear victory for the Greeks. But they didn’t!  Even though the Italians were pushed back into Albania by mid-January, the Italians under General Cavallero had regrouped and stabilized the front. By late March and early April, there were signs that the Greeks were beginning to crack under the pressure. Certainly the Greeks could not have held out for long as their ordnance supplies were low and their army , in the words of one author, “was fast reaching the end of its logistical tether”. Their morale was sinking and desertions were increasing. The Greek army was exhausted. It had, according to some estimates, a month of effective resistance left, while Italian strength was increasing, not decreasing.

 

So who really won the Greco-Italian war?  Well, I’ll leave this question up to you, the reader, to decide. But for myself, I would ask these questions:

  1. who ended up occupying most of Greece?
  2. who officially surrendered to whom?
  3. when a foreign army marches through your capital city and you are helplessly looking on, who is  victorious here?
  4. if an enemy attacks, even when it is pushed back, but still continues to fight and never lets up, can one really claim it as a  “victory”?

 

Wars have their ebbs and flows. Sometimes the invading force pushes forward, sometimes it is pushed back. Each side can claim tactical successes or failures here and there, but at the end of the day, whose boots are marching in your towns and cities? The Greeks made a valiant effort against an enemy that was complaisant and half prepared,  an enemy that expected an easy victory. The Italians were both surprised and dismayed by the stiffness and hardiness of the Greek resistance. But after an initial set-back, they recovered, stabilized and starting pushing back. Italy had the resources to continue the war for as long as it took; the Greeks did not have that luxury.  They played for time, hoping against hope that the Yugoslavs or the British would come to the rescue. But when the former collapsed and the latter was niggardly in aid and oscillating, then realistically the Greeks had little chance defeating the much stronger Italians. And when the heavy Teutonic boot of the Germans entered the fray, whatever chance the Greeks had against the Italians, was snuffed out.

 

Comments

  1. Frederik Mertens says:

    Let’s take a look at the questions you pose here:

    1. Who ended up occupying most of Greece? Well, the Germans allowed the Italians to occupy most of Greece but made sure they kept the best and strategically vital parts. Athens and the Piraeus, Macedonia and Thessaloniki, the border (including islands) with Turkey and most of Crete.
    2. Who officialy surrendered to whom? The Greek armies of Epirus urrendered to the Germans first and foremost, and it took Mussolini’s personal intervention with Hitler to include the Italians. Admitted, this was slightly spiteful of the Greeks who wished to avoid surrendering to the Italians. Greece itself did not surrender and continued the fight alongside its allies.
    3. A marching foreign army through your capital? Well, I know of quite a few photo’s of the Swastika flying over the Parthenon and none of the Italian flag.
    4. If an enemy attacks and is pushed back, can you claim that as a victory? Well yes. This is what we call a defensive victory, where the plans of the attacker are foiled. Moscow, Stalingrad and Kursk all fall in that category.

    So who won the war? or better said, who won the battle? I’d say the Germans, even if they would have preferred a calm Balkan without endless occupation duties. The Greeks won a defensive victory by resisting the Italian attack in 1940. Obviously, the sheer disparity in strength between Greece and Italy should have brought an Italian victory in the course of 1941, but German intervention preempted this. At the moment Germany entered the war, the Greco-Italian war was over.

    FM

    • Frederick,

      The Italians occupied most of Greece because they did most of the fighting and the dying. Try as they could, the Greek Army could neither defeat the Italians nor push them back any further. The Italians did not give up and by the time the Germans intervened, the Greeks were exhausted and were on the point of retreating anyway. The Germans did not “allow the Italians” anything. They were in no position to dictate terms. Hitler and Mussolini were in total agreement how Greece was to be carved up.

      If the Italians were fighting 80% of Greek forces and pinned them down in the Epirus mountains, and the Germans merely had to make an appearance and walk in, who really defeated whom?

      The Greeks formally surrendered to the Italians which means what it says: they surrendered. They were defeated by the Italians.

      An Italian flag over the Acropolis? Yes, there is one on this site. You just have to look for it. And an Italian military parade as well.

      The Greeks failed to defeat the Italians. The Italians eventually triumphed over the Greeks. You may not like it, but it is a fact of history that you need to deal with on a personal and patriotic level.

      • I do admit that I can see both sides on this issue.

        On one hand, I am confident to state that, given no outside assistance to either side, Italy would ultimately prevail. I agree that the strategic failure of the Tepeleni offensive demonstrated that the Greeks themselves lacked the ability to militarily end the war. As seen in other theaters, the Italian military could learn. As long as technologies stayed relatively equal, the Italian military would improve. Italy had greater resources and those resources would increasingly become decisive.

        On the other, it is very clear that the war ended when it did solely due to the German intervention. Operazione Primavera had failed and it would take the Italians two-three months to prepare another. The collapse of the Greek Epirus and Macedonian Fronts was directly tied to the German success. The Italians were left to pick-up the pieces and even here their performance was mixed.

        One can also make an argument that, without Italy, a German invasion still is likely to be successful. I also don’t agree with the surrender argument. The Italians hadn’t defeated the Greeks in battle and the Greek surrender to the Italians was a political point forced by the Germans. This is discussed in the Italian official.

        “The Greeks failed to defeat the Italians.” Operationally the Greeks had consistently defeated the Italians. The Tepeleni offensive didn’t strategically end the war, but it was successful. War is full of successful operations that don’t achieve their ultimate goals.

        “The Italians eventually triumphed over the Greeks.” This is the key point of the discussion. As part of the Axis: true. Militarily the answer is no.

        So the real question is whether Italy would have been given the time to defeat Greece without either side receiving assistance. This we will never know.

        I am not a sports person, but maybe Baseball has this one right. When a team is behind and a relief pitcher is sent in and the team later wins, the relief pitcher gets the win. :-)

      • Frederik Mertens says:

        Annales, I fear I have no nationalistic or patriottic axe to grind here, as I am neither Greek, Italian, British or German. And I do consider that the Italians deserve more credit for their military exploits during the Second World War then they generally get.

        But trying to turn the Greco-Italian War into an Italian triumph is not the way to do it. From every angle, the Italian attack on Greece is an utter disaster.

        Strategically, it was foolish in the extreme. German political clout was stabilising the Balkans and the war in Greece was an unwelcome distraction from the comming war against the USSR which would decide the fate not only of Germany, but of the whole Axis. Admitted, German and Italian long term goals were not the same, and an Italian dominated Greece might benefit Italy. So a slight case could be made for a direct attack, even if it would probably have been better to concentrate on North-Africa and chase the British from the Eastern Mediterranean, which would have resulted in an Italian domination of the area. But to launch a limited attack at a pique without sufficient troops in late autumn was bloody stupid.

        Operationally, there is first and foremost that nagging problem of a limited attack? The only logical axis is towards Thessaloniki, with follow up operations towards Athens. At the same time, everything should have been done to grab Crete. But instead of this, we see a foray into unimportant Epirus, splitting up availiable Italian troops in theatre with the Pindus in between. The Greeks did very well here concentrating teir numerically superior forces in an operational counterattack in the Koritsa area, utterly defeating the Italian attack and driving them far back into Albania. A clear cut victory, that only just failed to become a full strategic triumph because of tenacious and often desperate Italian resistance (kudos for the Italian soldiers there, who held the line).
        Obviously, these battles in Albania against the potentially far superior Italian forces exhausted the Greek army. And further Greek offensives against the stiffened Italian defence had little chance to succeed.
        But neither did the Italian Spring Offensive. While Mussolini and the Italians had every reason to wish for its succes, it only managed to inflict further losses on both sides (which the Italians were in a far better position to make good) but did not change the status quo.

        So the Germans could waltz in and grab the victory, glory and the strategically interesting bits. And bluster all you will that Hitler and Mussolini were ‘in full agreement’, this full agreement meant that Mussolini had to swallow the rather bitter pill of the Germans becoming the dominating power in Greece. which was exactly what Mussolini had wished to prevent. German intervention in the Balkans even brought Yugoslavia and Bulgaria further into the German sphere of influence. And the fact that the Germans allowed the Italians to march in their parades or fly their flag next to the swastika did not change a thing about that.

        FM

        • Hi Frederik,

          I think the difference we have is our approach. I see the glass half full and you see the glass half empty. What I tend to see is the RESULT rather then the PROCESS. Regardless of all the so-called “blunders and fiascos”, strategic and tactical errors, supply errors, etc,.that is often leveled at the Italians (many of which are often harsh and unnecessary), the Italians succeeded in taking over two-thirds of Greece and large chunks of Yugoslavia. Now, if this game was played in reverse, and we put the performance of the British under such an acute microscope as we do the Italians, the results would be very interesting indeed! There would be unearthed a whole series of blunders and fiascos making “incompetence” a by-word for the British military and its planners.

          Just two points: The Balkans were reserved for the Italians. Hitler agreed to this before the start of the war. German intrusion into Romania and their shenanigans in this Italian sphere of influence, was what upset the state of affairs and balance in this region. Hitler knew this but chose to ignore it at his peril. Therefore, any so-called “upset” by the Italians to Hitler’s nefarious, secretive plans for this region are null and void. As Sadkovich and others have pointed out, the Italians were lumbered not with an “ally” in the Germans, but rather a “competitor” whose clumsy Teutonic feet trod on many toes, upsetting and unbalancing the apple-cart.

          The Italian mistake was to severely underestimate the resistance of the Greeks. The initial invading force set up by Count Prasca was adequate for the resistance expected, so the planning was “correct” based on this assumption. However, the assumption was wrong! The Greeks did fight and fight very tenaciously.

          The Italians harbored a long-standing desire to invade Greece. They had several contingency plans for it. Hitler going into Romania was the last straw for Mussolini and Ciano.

          You use conditional clauses like “should have…”, and suggesting they should have attacked Thessaloniki instead of the Epirus, and they should have grabbed Crete, etc,. This is a game I am wary of playing. I take the simple view that the Italian general staff were competent and intelligent men who carefully considered all possibilities and with the limitations of the Italian military, had few options to choose from. It is easy to play the “hindsight” game and suggest what they should or should not have done. Professional historians avoid this type of analysis because it is futile and can lead to all sorts of complications and red herrings. Popular history writers on the other hand, enjoy these sorts of expectations, postulates and conjectures, the “what if’s ” and “should have’s”.

          If we play this game, Hitler should not have invaded Russia! Now this is a game worthy of consideration. What finally sank the Germans and brought the Italians down with them, was German incompetence par excellence! of attacking a huge country with endless manpower and the ability to pour out 2000 tanks a month! Now that’s incompetence on a breath-taking scale: NOT Italy’s invasion of Greece!

          At the end of the day, Italy controlled two-thirds of Greece. Was it an unqualified success. No. Did the planning leave much to be desired? Yes. Did the Italians prevent German influence in their sphere? No. Did the Greeks surrender unconditionally to the Italians? Yes. Whose boots were marching in whose land? Italian boots. Did the Italian move against Greece succeed? Yes, partially.

          At the end of the day, by hook or by crook, the Italians rolled into Greece. Was it worth it? Probably not, as it is not very nice to invade other people’s land. But invade the Italians did, and with timely help from their German “allies” , they largely succeeded in conquering Greece.

          • Frederik Mertens says:

            Annales, good you point out the general staff opinion. Badoglio (then chief of the Italian general staff, as you will know) was rather in favor of my so called ‘what-if’scenarios. He proposed it during the fateful meeting of the 15th october, including the need of more troops and the taking of Crete and the Morea. Hardly a case of hindsight I’d say. The Prasca plan was not the a product of the general staff, but of an ambitious general (who knew full well that if sufficient forces were brought in to attack Greece, he would no longer be in full command of the invasion). And reading the minutiae of that meeting, Italy’s leaders hardly seem ‘competent and intelligent men’. It is a terrible indictment of the way in which Italy took strategic decisions.

            If you wish to show the world the quality of the Italian soldier, point out how they fought in the mountains of Albania, in the snow and the mud, with chaos around them and managed to stop the Greek counteroffensive. Or tell them about the Julia.
            But stop harping on the extent of ground which the Italians had to garrison after the German victories. It is no reflection of the extent of the Italian victory. What interested Germany most of all after its victory was that it had to deploy as little troops as possible in the Balkans as was viable. That, and Hitler’s support to Mussolini, for whom face saving was most definitely needed.

            FM

          • I think we have to stop seeing the Italian war effort as subsidiary to the Germans. As Dr James Sadkovich pointed out, there is a strong tendency to see the Italian role and its aims as subordinate to German ones. Therefore,the Italians were blamed for delaying Operation Barbarossa by a couple of months, thereby contributing to its defeat (a myth that by now, has been laid to rest though it still lingers in certain quarters), or that the Italian’s screwed up Hitler’s policy of keeping the Balkans nice and quiet, protecting his southern flank. Well, if he had actually told the Italians that he was preparing to invade Russia, it might have helped, but he didn’t. As usual, he kept Mussolini in the dark, so that whatever the Italians did to “screw up” Hitler’s timetable, can not be pinned on the Italians.

            The fighting qualities of the average Italian soldier were no more nor less than others. Indeed, more often than not, they were better than the average British soldier it seems. General Auchinleck was so dismayed by the lack of fight in the British rank and file and the tendency for cowardice and low morale that he pleaded with Churchill to reintroduce the death penalty for soldiers and officers who showed a distinct tendency to surrender rather than fight. The death penalty was abolished after the Great War but very nearly made a comeback.

            Again it is the same old myths and stereotypes. The leaders hardly seemed “competent and intelligent men”. I read the same minutes of the meeting and several proposals were made and discarded for one reason or another. The final plan was basically a good one, though it rested on the assumption that the Greeks would quickly capitulate. Again, it wasn’t so much the plan as the assumption it was based upon. But to say that the Italian leadership “seemed hardly competent and intelligent men” is really a racist slur and stereotype. Intelligent men can and do make wrong decisions, but it doesn’t mean they weren’t intelligent. One doesn’t necessarily follow the other. Hitler was a very intelligent person, as were the German high command, but it doesn’t mean they always made the best decisions. Often political factors are involved. The “terrible indictment” you are referring to is just the usual Anglo-American historical hysteria.

            Perhaps I’m just a simple fellow but when I see a map of the Balkans and Greece, and a lot of it is shaded in green which means, Italian occupation and control, I just draw a simple conclusion: looks like the Italians are there!

            You wrote: “What interested Germany most of all after its victory was that it had to deploy as little troops as possible in the Balkans as was viable.” Again, it is this focus on the Germans when in reality, they had played an important but marginal role in the final outcome.

          • Frederik Mertens says:

            (I tried to post a replay to the last post a while ago, but it seems something went wrong)

            Annales,

            Without wishing to dwell on the dangers of using the ‘racism’ card as an argument or -even worse – as an accusation in a discussion, I fail to see how using Italian doubts about Italian adventures could in any way be construed as ‘racist’. My critique mirrors the critique of Badoglio who was in quite a good position as one of the authors of ‘contingency G’to know what he was talking about. The Regio Esercito knew quite well that the plan Mussolini decided on amounted to too litle on the wrong axis during a terrible time of the year. Its chances of succes were nil unless the Greeks would only offer token resistance and crumble at the first Italian push. By any account, Italian or not, this seems a terribly hazardous gamble. As it was, it was a gamble based on hot air emanating from Jacomoni, Prasca, Ciano and last but not least, Mussolini himself. And it blew up in their faces when the Greeks decided to fight, as Grazzi (and others) had time after time warned that they would.

            But if you are still convinced Italy’s masters showed themselves competent and intelligent men during the fateful deliberations of the 15th october, please do explain in that case why they chose to exclude Cavignari and Pricolo? Because it does seem to me (and about any military historian I know about) that the Regia Marina and the Regia Aeronautica did have their role to play in the Albanian adventure. How was excluding them no example of foolish incompetence?

            FM

            P.S. You do complain about an anti-Italian stance in the perception of history (and I think you are correct in stating that Italy’s soldiers are not always given a fair hearing), but if you call the German intervention in the Balkans ‘important but marginal’ you might start to ponder about your own preconceptions.

          • Frederik,

            In your last comment, you accused the entire Italian military hierarchy of gross incompetence, which is breath-taking in itself in scope. Should we then accuse the entire British hierarchy of gross incompetence for the Norwegian campaign and other similar campaigns that resulted in less than expected gains and setbacks?

            Again, the plan rested on the assumption that the Greeks would capitulate quickly. They did not, and so the invasion suffered a severe initial reversal. It was the assumptions rather than the military planning that was at fault. In any plan, assumptions are initially made based on evidence, facts and “fingers crossed” ; ie. that all will fall into place. Luck and Lady Fortune, which Machiavelli often spoke of in his writings, is an integral part of every military campaign.

            But to accuse the entire military leadership of gross incompetence, is simply going too far.

            Lastly, I still maintain that the German intervention was important but marginal because all the evidence points to the same conclusion: that the Italians, given another month of fighting, would have been victorious with or without the Germans. In fact, the Italians did not need the Germans. Mussolini and others had severe reservations about the Germans coming in and would, if they could, have tried to prevent it.

            But as Sadkovich and others have maintained all along, the Germans and the Italians acted more like competitors than true allies. As Germany was the stronger of the two, the onus fell more on the Germans to act like a true ally, rather than muscle in on what had already been agreed in 1938: the Italian living space or spazio vitale in the Balkans.

          • Frederik Mertens says:

            Annales,

            I fail to see how I accuse the ‘entire Italian military hierarchy of gross incompetence’ when I focus on the meeting of the 15th october within the context of the disastrous Albanian campaign, even if a good case could be made that this example is representative for other equally unconsidered and rash decisions made by Mussolini cum suis (the decision to attack France’s Alpine border from a defensive posture springs to mind).

            Nor do I see how your argument that ‘the plan rested on the assumption that Greece would capitulate quickly’ exonerates the participants in any way. For these assumptions were not based on any evidence or fact. Worse, all evidence and fact pointed towards a Greek determination to fight if need be. And even if the Greeks would have crumbled as Mussolini, Jacomoni, Ciano and Prasca seem to have hoped, why the hell did they aim their attack towards the strategically utterly unimportant mountains of Epirus, rather than towards the glittering prises of Salonika and Athens?
            No, blaming the faulty assumptions while hailing the plan is a piece of sophistry. Or blaming Lady Luck. She often is decisive in battle, but the Italian armies did not fail because they were unlucky. Bad weather in october, logistic bottlenecks in Albania and Greek numerical superiority vis a vis the Italian troops present had nothing to do with Lady Luck. All of these were know facts that should have been taken into account. Unless of course, you still insist on the Greeks giving up without a fight. In which case the whole plan depended on Lady Luck for a full 100%. Again, I call that a terribly hazardous gamble. More so, a foolish gamble.

            And about the Germans….well, you know what, if you wish to consider their intervention in the Balkans marginal, go right ahead. Yes, I agree that the Greeks would probably have been defeated by the Italians, even if ‘another month’ might be a rather positive guesstimate, considering the ample strategic depth Greece still had availiable and considering the essentially ‘foot-mobile’ character of the Italian armies in Albania. Greek and Italian relative strength were such that this was nearly unavoidable. But this ‘marginal’ intervention resulted exactly in what Mussolini had wished to ‘correct’ with his attack on Greece: further German domination of the Balkan peninsula, with Italy more and more regulated to playing a subordinate rather than an equal role in the uneven alliance.

            But just answer me this, as I asked in my previous post. Why were Cavignari and Pricolo excluded on the 15th october when a major strategic decision was taken in which their services would have to play a vital role? Why was the navy, which had to launch an amphibious attack, disrupt possible British reinforcements and reinforce and supply the Albanian front not present? Why was the Air Force which had to support the advance, stop Greek troops redeploying and – considering the expectations of a quick Greek capitulation not the least important task – strike hard blows on the Greek heartland from the start not present?
            For I really find it difficult to answer this question without resorting to words – aimed not at the entire Italian military, but specifically at those calling the shots during that meeting -like ‘fools’ or ‘incompetence’.

            FM

          • Frederik,

            You are a good example of how utterly brainwashed and hopelessly misled your generation are by the whole Anglo-American WW2 self-serving mythologizing historiography dealing with the Italians. Mussolini, the fascist hierarchy and his generals were neither fools nor incompetents. In many ways they had a firmer grasp of reality than did the Germans as well as being more rational and logical. Certainly the Italians were right to see the Mediterranean as the strategic preeminent theater in order to bring the British to their knees and get Turkey involved, especially after the German failure of nerve to invade Britain. Rather than genuinely help the Italians, the Germans actually did more harm than good in the long run, and whatever little good they did, always came with a hefty price tag.

            I think the antidote to your severe misunderstanding of Italy’s role, strategy and contribution in the Balkans and the Mediterranean, is to read Sadkovich’s articles such as:

            ‘Anglo-American bias and the Italo Greek War’ followed by ‘German military incompetence seen through Italian eyes’ followed by ‘A reevaluation of the Italo-British naval war’.

            This should get you started and should dissolve the propaganda nonsense and misinformation that has blinkered you for so long, nonsense which has been the norm and not the exception since the end of the war.

            I suggest reading all his articles and books, so that like a bucket of cold water, you will come out of your awful delusions about the Italians and into the light of a more truthful historical reality, like Plato’s prisoner in a cave who eventually refused to believe the false shadows and emerged from his cave of ignorance into the light of truth.

            Please read Dr James Sadkovich, Dr Renzo de Felice, Ian Walker , Dr Craig Stockings, and Santi Corvaja and when you have read them all, we can continue this debate. Forget Knox, Mack Smith, Thackrah, Liddell Hart and all the other bunch of “incompetents” who have by and large been discredited by more recent, more balanced and less prejudiced authors.

          • First I will comment that none of Frederik’s comments indicate that he is ‘utterly brainwashed and hopelessly misled by the whole Anglo-American WW2 self-serving mythologizing historiography dealing with the Italians.’ I don’t believe anyone here disagrees that Italy’s role in WW2 has been marginalized and in some cases, misrepresented, in English language historical works.

            However, recognizing/accepting this understanding is a far cry from accepting your proposition that the Italian military defeated the Greek military in combat during 1940-41 campaign. Here I will point out that your argument has not been persuasive to any degree. Frederik has done a good job in challenging your weak arguments.

            Let me discuss your recent cites. I have finished reviewing the three Sadkovich articles you named. The German Military Incompetence article is not germane unless you are making the claim that Germany’s invasion of Greece was incompetent. The naval article has been supplanted by his book on the Italian Navy and again addresses issues not germane to this discussion.

            The first Sadkovich article on your list is addressing how the campaign is presented by Anglo-American historians. I am certainly in agreement that the Italo-German relationship and the strategic framework of the alliance has been misrepresented, as well as the overall marginalizing of the Greek campaign and its impact on the war. His main point is how the Greek campaign is generally set within either a UK or German perspective, and ignores the Italian viewpoint and how the campaign impacted the fighting in A.S. in an Italian context.

            When Sadkovich touches upon the execution of the campaign proper, his comments are not positive on the Italian conduct of the war.

            “Imbecilic the attack may have been, but Italy was a major factor in the war,..” page 619.

            “The fact that the Italian attack was ill-considered and haphazardly executed does not justify ignoring the critical consequences of Mussolini’s action, …” (pages 619-620).

            And when discussing one of the problems with Knox’s accounts, Sadkovich states:

            “[For Knox’s account to be] More germane would have been a detailed discussion of the military operations and the hardships suffered by those units that had been in line during the winter with almost no supplies for over two months.” (page 633).

            I can challenge each your points with cites from multiple Italian sources. The Italian War in Greece was a mess and to say there was a victory at the end of it is to ignore the facts. I will close with the last paragraph from The Hollow Legions as I feel Cervi captures the truth (pages 309-310):

            Thinking back about the pages I have written, I feel they have turned out perhaps to be even more bitter and uncomforting than I expected. Truth is a hard taskmaster, but nothing in this book, no truth, can devalue the memory of those killed on Monastery Hill and the thousand other mud-and-blood stained heights in Albania. Let honor be done to those who did their bitter duty in obedience to stupid and iniquitous orders. In April 1941, not a single Greek units was willing to surrender to the Italians. A few months later, when they had got to know the human warm of the Italian troops, the Greeks preferred the Italians to the Germans. Let their valor and also their human decency be acknowledged. In the Greek campaign the Italian troops were, without any doubt whatever, the worst-led troops in the world. They deserved better of their country.

          • I would have to concur with annales, the incompetence was NOt on Italy attacking Greece but on Germany’s stupid plan to attack a gigantic resource and population rich country as Russia, who had the industry to continually produce mass weaponry and heavy armour at superior amounts than Germany or any other nation for that matter.

            Had they been content on conquering North Africa, Malta and the Balkans and then invade Britain…the Axis would have been in a powerful situation to defend against any Russian counter invasion plan.

            Severe shortage of supplies and weaponry is what made life harder than it should have been for the Italians, and the stupid tactics of the Germans rushing in, requesting support and then withdrawing, leaving the Italians to cover their rear whilst the Germans repeated in most battlefields…is what ultimately cost Germany their ally. And an isolated Germany was no match for Russia, American and allied counteroffensives.

          • Hi Adepss,

            Again, I have to concur with you. If the Italians were rather cavalier with the Greeks and discarding vital intelligence indicating they would fight and fight hard, what can one say about the Germans and their massive, unforgivable and unpardonable arrogance and recklessness to go off and fight Russia, and WITHOUT EVEN THE COURTESY TO INFORM THEIR ALLIES!

            Malta, North Africa, Gibraltar, Egypt, the Middle East, the Balkans, Greece and even the UK were all very do-able! Mussolini always thought Hitler was a little mentally unhinged, but even he under-estimated the lunacy of “der Fuehrer”.

            What can one say? The plan was to invade Britain and knock it out of the war, as the Italians were told and were expecting. But instead, the little corporal goes off and attacks Russia unilaterally! If I were “il Duce”, I would have immediately ceased fighting, unilaterally disowned the “Pact of Steel” alliance, seek an honorable cessation of hostilities with Britain, withdraw the army out of Greece (with a lovely letter of apology to the Greeks ending with – “sorry about the misunderstanding fellas”, ordered Graziani to withdraw his army immediately back to the Libyan side of the border and rushed as much equipment, arms and troops to the Alps to await the expected wrath of the Germans.

            In other words, “all bets are off you kraut bastard”.

      • Hi Jeff,

        I recommended those Sadkovich articles to Frederik not because of this debate, but to help him obtain an better over-view and deeper insight into Anglo-American bias (you can throw in German bias as well) when dealing with Italy’s role and performance in the war.

        Look, I’m not saying that the campaign was a great success and that it all went honky-dory and according to plan. Clearly, it was a disastrous campaign, with serious flaws in it. But a campaign it was, with much blood spilled on both sides. And in the wider context, it was perhaps one of the most crucial campaigns of WW2, for it changed the political-strategic balance in the entire Mediterranean and Balkans. The Italians, by moving against Greece, certainly lit a fire that engulfed the Balkans, burning everyone’s fingers!

        Your quotes only prove that it was an ill-conceived and badly flawed campaign, causing much hardship to the average soldier. However, I would like you to provide a quote from any reputable author that specifically states that the Italians LOST the Greco-Italian war. This is my challenge to you!

        I did not state anywhere that “the Italian military defeated the Greek military in combat during 1940-41 campaign” as you have suggested. Operationally, the Greeks were able to defeat the Italians every time. But as Stockings and Hancock (1999) have pointed out, the Greeks were fast “approaching the end of their logistical tether” where, according to the authors, they only had a month’s supply of artillery and mortar shells left. It is very hard to imagine how the Greeks could have kept their front intact without munitions. There is little doubt, and most experts seem to acknowledge this, that given another month or two, the Italians would have finally broken through the Greek defensive lines.

        So my original questions still stand:

        1. Who officially surrendered to whom?
        2. Whose boots where marching in whose towns and cities?
        3. Whose flag was flying over the Acropolis?
        4. Whose land was taken over?

        Yes, it is true that German intervention broke the stalemate. Without it, the war would have dragged on for another month or two. However, I still stand by my conviction that while the German intervention was crucial, it was margin in terms of the inevitable, final outcome.

        While it was a “victory” for the Italians, it was a heavily compromised one. The cost was heavy, perhaps too heavy in hindsight. But a victory nevertheless for what it was worth. The victory was not obtained on the battlefield, but elsewhere. It was a victory for the Italians because they happened to have an “ally” like the Germans who didn’t just offer morale support or token support or a couple of divisions like the British did for the Greeks, but entered Greece with OVERWHELMING FORCE that swept all in its path. However, it is true that this tidal wave was made much easier by Italian blood pinning down 80% of the Greek forces.

        So because the Germans intervened, does it lessen the contribution the Italians made? I hardly think so. War is not some polite gentleman’s game of chess, nor is it baseball. One doesn’t have to “play fair” or like the British, it just “isn’t cricket old boy.” No. War has as much to do with diplomacy and alliances and being able to call in a favor from a very powerful ally, as what happens on the battlefield. Mussolini was able to “call in” a favor from his old pal Hitler. For whatever reason, Hitler responded. But the favor was NOT free and Mussolini knew there would be a price to pay to his “old buddy Adolf” . That price was a third of Greece, sharing the Greek corpse like a pair of hungry wolves. Italy got to devour the bulk of it, the Germans, a quarter and the scraps went to the other hyenas like Bulgaria.

        You know, this conflict reminds me of the World Cup played by France and Italy nearly a decade ago. It was obvious to everyone that the French team was the better side, and they should have won that game. The Italian coach sensed his team will lose so he instructed Baggio to say some unflattering things about Zindane’s mother and sister, which made Zindane lose his cool. He was sent off and so, in the final quarter, the French team were one man less. But still they were proving to be the better team. But no matter how hard they tried, they simply could not get that ball in the net. Luck wasn’t with them. In the final penalty shoot-out, the Italians got lucky and won by a mere penalty goal. Everyone felt sorry for the French team which played so hard and courageously. But it was the Italian team on that winning podium; NOT the French team.

        Likewise, the underdog were the Greeks who fought so bravely and courageously, but all to no avail. In war, the winner takes all! While the Italians did not win the battles, with timely German assistance, it eventually, (whether fairly or unfairly, deservedly or undeservedly), won. Italy is much like a runner who wins a race because the better runner (Greece), was made to stumble and fall near the finishing line.

        Game Set and Over!

        • Jeff Leser says:

          Annales

          Game Set and Over!

          Really? Rather juvenile don’t you think?

          While it was a “victory” for the Italians, it was a heavily compromised one. The cost was heavy, perhaps too heavy in hindsight. But a victory nevertheless for what it was worth. The victory was not obtained on the battlefield, but elsewhere. It was a victory for the Italians because they happened to have an “ally” like the Germans who didn’t just offer morale support or token support or a couple of divisions like the British did for the Greeks, but entered Greece with OVERWHELMING FORCE that swept all in its path. However, it is true that this tidal wave was made much easier by Italian blood pinning down 80% of the Greek forces.

          I feel everyone can (and does) agree with this. If this line of discussion had been the thrust of the article, I don’t believe anyone would have objected.

          The main problem with the article is that it doesn’t truly separate the two main parts of the war (The Italo-Greco and the German invasion). The Greeks do claim they defeated the Italians during the Italo-Greco War. They were defeated in turn by the Germans during the German invasion. They have never denied the role the Italo-Greco War played in that defeat.

          But your question is the reader is: “So who really won the Greco-Italian war?” As that war ended on 6 April, no Italians were occupying Greece (or in Greece at that time), there wasn’t an Italian flag flying over the Acropolis, and there wasn’t a victory parade in Athens.

          If your question had been ‘who won the Greek campaign Oct 1940-Apr 1941’, then answer should be ‘The Axis’.

          Reread you article with this in mind. Don’t deny what the Greeks achieved. Also note that the Greeks have never denied the role played by Italy in their ultimate defeat (I am not sure historians have overlooked this). Give credit for what the Italians achieved but also openly discuss their faults. These faults were causal to why “The victory was not obtained on the battlefield, but elsewhere.”

          Sadkovich is correct in that the role of Italy in the Balkans is poorly addressed in English language history. The Italian campaigns against Greece and Yugoslavia are begging for good English accounts (Cloutier doesn’t cut it).

          Pista!

          • Hi Jeff,

            a couple of points. You wrote that “The Greeks do claim they defeated the Italians during the Italo-Greco War.” Well, my answer to that is that the Greeks are entitled to claim anything they want, but it doesn’t make it true.

            Secondly, you make the claim that the war ended on the 6th April. By this I take it, the date of Operation Marita when the Germans attacked Greece? For the Italians and the Greeks on the Albanian Front, the war did not officially end until the surrender of the Greek Army of the Epirus under General Tsolakoglou to General Ferrero at 2.45pm on the 23rd April, 1941, Salonika. Fighting there continued to the very last hour.

            There was a joint Italian-German military parade in Athens on the 3rd May. There may or may not have been an Italian flag flying over the Acropolis, but there are certainly images of Italian soldiers on parade in front of it.

            You are playing with semantics when you wrote: “If your question had been ‘who won the Greek campaign Oct 1940-Apr 1941’, then answer should be ‘The Axis’.”

            Since “Axis” means “Italian and German” then we can rephrase your statement as:

            “If your question had been ‘who won the Greek campaign Oct 1940-Apr 1941’, then answer should be ‘the Italians and the Germans’.”

            OR

            The Greek campaign Oct 1940-Apr-1941 was won by the Germans.
            The Greek campaign Oct 1940-Apr-1941 was won by the Italians.
            The Greek campaign Oct 1940-Apr-1941 was won by the Germans and the Italians.
            The Greek campaign Oct 1940-Apr-1941 was won by the Axis.

            All the above is true. So why is there such a great amount of time and energy spent and wasted doing all these lexical and semantic gymnastics by Anglo-American/Greek writers who are very very loathed to put in the same sentence the words: “Italian” “victory” “Greece”? It is truly baffling and astonishing to me.

            I know why. Again, Sadkovich has hit the nail on the head when he wrote that the “standard interpretation” is so powerful, that even when confronted with evidence and revelations, people will still adhere to the standard. (Argument, Persuasion and Anecdote, 2002). For example, people will continue to believe that the Greeks won the Greco-Italian War of 1940-41 even when you point out the bleeding obvious like a surrender document, the fact that the Greeks surrendered to the Italians, the fact that the Greeks were ordered to lay down their arms, the fact that the Italians had actually occupied 70% of the country, etc,. No matter how obvious it all is, I have no doubt that people will still continue into the future, to believe that the Greeks won the war and defeated the Italians. Even when confronted with the evidence that the earth was round, for centuries after, many still believed it was flat!

            For the Greeks, it is clear why they still believe this great fallacy, and they can be excused for it: as children, they are taught and it is drilled into their heads, that they won the Greco-Italian war!
            They have an excuse: it’s called, indoctrination. But what excuse do other nationalities have?

            

          • Jeff Leser says:

            Annales

            I feel we disagree on only one point – we will see who is more interested in lexical and semantic gymnastics :-)

            You wrote that “The Greeks do claim they defeated the Italians during the Italo-Greco War.” Well, my answer to that is that the Greeks are entitled to claim anything they want, but it doesn’t make it true.

            And your rejection doesn’t make it false. As pretty much everyone else agrees that the Italians hadn’t defeated the Greeks by 6 April, and as the German invasion decisively changed the situation, the weight is on you to demonstrate otherwise. A stalemate on foreign soil when the enemy intent was to invade is a pretty solid success.

            But hey, I can go with stalemate. It works for me.

            So why is there such a great amount of time and energy spent and wasted doing all these lexical and semantic gymnastics by Anglo-American/Greek writers…

            Because the study of history is writing and words have meaning. Using the right words is important.

            You are playing with semantics when you wrote: “If your question had been ‘who won the Greek campaign Oct 1940-Apr 1941’, then answer should be ‘The Axis’.”

            I am sorry, I thought that the Axis was Germany and Italy (and I guess Japan, but that country was never a functional part of the alliance). But I have no problem with stating Germany and Italy won the Greek War.

            I also have no problem with stating Germany won the Greek War for the reasons previously stated.

            I do have problems with stating that Italy won the Greek War. That is a false statement. Italy didn’t win militarily and they also lost it diplomatically. Unless participating in a symbolic surrender and victory parade were the goals set by Mussolini (I can tell you they weren’t), then the war was a failure. Sadkovich’s ‘The Italo-Greek War in Context’ lays this out pretty concisely.

            Like the Greeks, Italy achieved a stalemate until Germany broke it. After that, Italy was along for the ride.

            Secondly, you make the claim that the war ended on the 6th April. By this I take it, the date of Operation Marita when the Germans attacked Greece? For the Italians and the Greeks on the Albanian Front, the war did not officially end until the surrender of the Greek Army of the Epirus under General Tsolakoglou to General Ferrero at 2.45pm on the 23rd April, 1941, Salonika. Fighting there continued to the very last hour.

            Already addressed. Officially or not, the Greeks threw in the towel on 20 April whether you agree or not. You have yet to offer anything that demonstrates otherwise except for when the Germans scheduled the official surrender.

            To recap using your four statements:

            The Greek campaign Oct 1940-Apr-1941 was won by the Germans. -Agree
            The Greek campaign Oct 1940-Apr-1941 was won by the Italians. -Disagree
            The Greek campaign Oct 1940-Apr-1941 was won by the Germans and the Italians. – Agree
            The Greek campaign Oct 1940-Apr-1941 was won by the Axis. – Agree

            In all, you need to reread Sadkovich’s articles a bit more carefully. His overall issue is that Italy’s actions didn’t drag Germany into the Balkans, but it was Germany’s actions that forced Italy to act. IBWs Germany created the problem in the Balkans, not Italy. Italy had no choice but to act so one should not make Italy the scapegoat for German failings.

            His secondary point (but nearly as important as his first) is that rather than ignoring the events of 29 Oct 40-6 April 41 within the flow of WW2 as a mere sideshow until the Germans entered stage right, one must see those months as the time when Italy was basically gutted. After Greece, Italy was much worst off and incapable of independent action. It was a significant turning point (unlike Crete) and shaped the events that followed.

            He is not saying Italy won the war in Greece.

            Jeff

          • Hi Jeff,

            I think we are getting closer to a happier middle way. You wrote:

            The Greek campaign Oct 1940-Apr-1941 was won by the Germans. -Agree
            The Greek campaign Oct 1940-Apr-1941 was won by the Italians. -Disagree
            The Greek campaign Oct 1940-Apr-1941 was won by the Germans and the Italians. – Agree
            The Greek campaign Oct 1940-Apr-1941 was won by the Axis. – Agree

            So from the above, we can conclude that the Greek Campaign was won by the Germans and the Italians (the Axis) together. That is about as close as we will ever come.

            The difference is that I believe the second proposition is also true: ie.The Greek campaign Oct 1940-Apr-1941 was won by the Italians. AGREE. This is because I focus on the final outcome, rather than the process. My definition of VICTORY is different to yours. The Italians did not defeat the Greeks on the battlefield and yet, the Greeks were defeated by the Italians because an armistice or surrender document was signed on the 23rd April at Saloniki stating just that. So we have arrived at a conundrum.

            Look at it this way. If the Greeks were not able to hold back the Germans who invaded their country on the 6th April, that’s their problem. What has it to do with the Italians? If a burglar is trying to get in through the front door, but you leave your back door open and ANOTHER burglar enters, then that’s your problem. What has it to do with the first burglar? In the end, both burglars break in.

            Germany in WW1 claimed just that: they were not defeated on the battlefield. No allied troops were actually on German soil when it called for an armistice in November 1918. Therefore, if one follows the Greek logic, Germany did NOT lose WW1. Such a proposition would be absurd! Of course it lost, just as the Greeks lost their war against both Italy and Germany.

            You brought up Sadkovich, so I will finish with him:

            Italian Morale during the Italo-Greek
            War of 1940-1941
            James J. Sadkovich
            There is little doubt that the Italo-Greek war dealt a severe blow to
            Italian prestige and shattered fascist, and popular, illusions of quick wars
            and beautiful deaths. But the severity and the duration of the blow remain
            far from clear. Not only did a series of Axis victories in the spring
            of 1941 cancel the defeats of the winter of 1940-41, but they followed a
            pattern of defeat and victory. Thus Italy’s failure to overwhelm French
            forts in the Alps in June 1940 had been followed immediately by France’s
            capitulation; and an inconclusive encounter between the Italian and
            British fleets in July still ended with Italian aircraft chasing
            Cunningham’s ships from the central Mediterranean. Over the summer
            the Italian air force had effectively neutralised Malta, and by the end of
            September the Italian army had advanced easily into Egypt and forced
            the British out of East Africa. Despite the successful British attack on
            Taranto in November, the Italian fleet put to sea within a few weeks and
            Italian convoys encountered little opposition on their regular runs to
            Albania and North Africa. Not until October did it become clear that the
            Germans lacked the nerve to invade England, and only in November and
            December did Italian setbacks in Greece and North Africa effectively
            challenge earlier optimistic assumptions about the military prowess of
            the Axis powers.
            Because the Italo-Greek war was a crucial turning point in the Second
            World War, its impact has been exaggerated by most authors, who are
            content with the superficial observation that it ended Mussolini’s
            ‘parallel war’ as public confidence in the regime and both the prestige
            and the morale of the armed forces were shattered by the shock of the
            retreat into Albania. Yet De Felice argues that public confidence oscillated
            with Italian defeats and victories, rising with Axis victories in early
            1941. This seems to have been the case not only for the public, but for the
            armed forces as well, which rallied from a jarring setback in Greece.
            (excerpt from: ‘Italian Morale during the Italo-Greek War of 1940-1941’)

          • Jeff Leser says:

            Good day Annales

            Yes we are likely not to get any closer. I will admit that I have hardened my positon after looking at the Italian goals for the war and seeing that none were met.

            I will point out that you continue to return to the surrender document, a document that only happened because of Italian political pressure on the Germans. That is really your only argument but it is meaningless.

            On board the USS Missouri to accept the Japanese surrender were representatives of France and the Netherlands. They signed the surrender document for their respective countries. I can say:

            The Allies defeated Japan.
            The US defeated Japan.

            I might say, but is inaccurate (but contains a degree of truth):

            The UK defeated Japan.
            China defeated Japan.

            I will never say:

            The USSR defeated Japan (they did win a campaign).
            France defeated Japan.
            The Netherlands defeated Japan.

            I will also point out that you are not following the histological methodology of the school whose name you are using. By rejecting the evidence of the actual military operations, the failure to achieve any of the war’s goals, and the political manipulation of the end result (what wasn’t achieved on the battlefield but was superficially gained by the alliance), you are doing exactly what the Annales school rejected.

            ‘The Annalistes, especially Lucien Febvre, advocated a histoire totale, or histoire tout court, a complete study of a historic problem.’

            From the Sadkovich quote you provided “Not only did a series of Axis victories in the spring of 1941 cancel the defeats of the winter of 1940-41, but they followed a pattern of defeat and victory.”

            Note the use of the term Axis. He didn’t say Italian.

          • Hi Jeff,

            I hardly think a surrender document whereby the Greek Epirus Army formally surrendered to the Italian Army “superficial”. That would be a startling statement to make. If the Greeks had refused to surrender to the Italians, the Italians would have kept on fighting causing more loss of life. So if the surrender document is “superficial” as you say, why did the Greeks surrender to the Italians then? What would be the point? THE GREEKS HAD TO SURRENDER. THERE WAS NO OTHER WAY OUT FOR THEM.

            Hitler valued the Axis alliance with Italy far far and again FAR MORE than he cared about the Greeks and Greece. It would be inconceivable and downright madness if he had alienated the Italian leadership for the paltry prize of Greece. Keeping Italy on side was by far and away much more important than all the Greeks put together. His main objective was not Greece, but to keep the British out of Greece.

            It wasn’t just “Italian political pressure” the Italians put on the Germans. It was the THREAT of Italian guns aimed at the Germans themselves! You (and many Anglo-writers) have a tendency to think that the Italians were so afraid and timid of the Germans, that the Germans could just do whatever they wanted. This is a grave error. Don’t forget the Italians had two armies in Greece. It wasn’t as if Hitler and the German generals thought: “Ok, let’s be nice to the Italians and give them most of Greece as a favor because they really are a pathetic, useless bunch of dagos.” OH no! As I said, it wasn’t Italian political pressure – it was Italian bullets that were more than ready and willing to be pointed at their “valiant German allies” if the Germans even dared to think they were going to take ALL of Greece for themselves.

            But this is a moot point. The Italians were the main player in Greece – and they were going to get the main carcass of Greece. Hitler clearly understood this. Anything else and the whole Axis alliance would have died there and then.

            Again, I can only repeat myself so here goes:

            The Italians did not defeat the Greeks militarily on the battlefield. They would have but they ran out of time to do it alone because of the timing of the German intervention that tipped the scales and broke the stalemate. HOWEVER, in terms of the actual war itself (The Greco-Italian War as opposed to its individual battles and offensives) the Italians WON the war in partnership with the Germans. The Germans were the junior, not the senior partner, in this conflict. They came to “assist” the Italians; not the other way round.

            I know its tough on the Greeks to accept this; but hey, that’s life!

            PS. Oh and by the way, what were those objectives that the Italians failed in that had hardened your position? Were these objectives that the Italian leadership had set out, or what Anglo writers have since concocted?

          • Jeff Leser says:

            Good day Annales

            So if the surrender document is “superficial” as you say, why did the Greeks surrender to the Italians then?

            Again you come back to this same meaningless argument. Read Frederick’s and my previous posts. Better yet, read the Italian, Greek, and German accounts of how the surrender happened. Even Sadkovich address the why and it wasn’t because the Italians forced the Greeks to do so.

            PS. Oh and by the way, what were those objectives that the Italians failed in that had hardened your position? Were these objectives that the Italian leadership had set out, or what Anglo writers have since concocted?

            An ignorant and shortsighted statement. In reviewing this this discussion, I find it interesting that you only cite one Italian source (Cavallero and it is a diary, not a researched work) while I have cited several Italian sources (and can cite more) that focus exclusively on the Italo-Greek War. Yet you imply that I am using “what Anglo writers have since concocted.”

            Maybe you need to do a bit more research.

            The point of your article was to demonstrate that the Italians ‘won’ the Italo-Greek conflict, yet not a single source you have offered actually states that they did. In fact, Sadkovich expressly states that the Germans were making all the decisions which makes the surrender, the victory parade, and the occupation zones meaningless in terms of answering the question. If Germany was the tail, the tail was definitely wagging the dog….

            “Italy won the war” is a statement that excludes Germany’s decisive role. When used by itself without elaboration, it is misleading and factually incorrect. If used with elaboration, substituting the word ‘Axis’ for ‘Italy’ provides the necessary clarity without excessive writing.

            Pista! Jeff

        • Hi Jeff,

          The Greeks tried to surrender to the Germans only, thereby hoping to cut some sort of deal to keep fighting the Italians, or to surrender solely to the Germans, thereby keeping the Italians out of Greece. They tried it before with the Germans (before Operation Marita) who would not have a bar of it. One writer described this Greek attempt as “churlish” and a childish fantasy. In 1945, the Germans also tried this Greek maneuver by surrendering solely to the Americans and British, trying to ignore Russia, and they too got short shrift.

          And what is so wrong with the Italians putting “political pressure” on the Germans? It happens all the time. That “political pressure” came with a not so subtle warning to the Germans. But while commanders like List and Sepp Dietrich were quite happy to accept a Greek surrender, Hitler, as I stated previously, would not have a bar of it. He actually concurred with his Italian allies. So whatever “political pressure” the Italians allegedly put on him, Hitler evidently didn’t need much convincing! Ok, so let’s get this straight from the start. It wasn’t a case of the Germans and Greeks in collusion against the nasty and unpopular Italians, as some specious Anglo and Greek authors try to claim. Ciano and Ribbentrop had already worked out the details about who was to get what in Greece. The desperate and somewhat pathetic Greek attempt to surrender only to the Germans and leave the Italians out in the cold must have caused some degree of mirth and laughter from the two Axis partners.

          What text in Sadkovich are you referring to? I can’t find it and would appreciate it if you could provide me with the name of the article and the page number.

          Lastly, I have yet to come across any writer who has specifically stated the Italians “lost” the war. There are many who write about the battles and offensives and give a very detailed analysis of the war on a day to day basis, and who are overly and stupidly critical of how the war was planned and conducted by the Italians, but none who have stated categorically that the Italians “lost” the war and that the Greeks had “won” it. I would appreciate it Jeff if you could provide us with any such reference.

          • Oh, there are two other points I wish to make and clarify.

            Firstly, there is really no such thing as “The Battle of Greece”, referring to Operation Marita or the German intervention in Greece. It’s simply something concocted by Anglo historians and populist writers. Operation Marita was meant to ASSIST the Italians in the only real war, that is the Greco-Italian War. There was no separate “Battle of Greece” war. Anglo historians have created this fiction in order to separate the German and Italians in the SAME WAR – that is, the Greco-Italian war. The German incursion into Greece was an effort to break the stalemate. It wasn’t and has never been, a SEPARATE WAR! It would be like describing the Normandy landings as an American war and a British war! It was the same war but different battles. The Germans were there to “assist” the Italians, and therefore, their role was vital but secondary.

            Secondly, it is astounding that a “surrender document” is considered by Jeff to be meaningless. THE GREEKS SURRENDERED TO THE ITALIANS. This is an historical fact that cannot be denied nor swept under the carpet. If they did not, the Italian military forces would have continued to pound the Greeks until they knocked some sense into their heads. Hitler and the general staff fully supported the ITALIANS, and NOT the Greeks!

            If we follow Jeff’s line of thinking, then the Brits cannot say “The British won the war” without some embarrassment. They would forever be having to say:

            “We British won the war (with massive American and Russian help!)” OR

            The Allies won the war.
            The Americans won the war
            The Russians won the war.
            The British won the war? (Uhhh? You mean, with massive American assistance, don’t you?)

          • Jeff Leser says:

            Annales

            I spend a lot of time pondering how to respond your last two posts. I decided that honesty is the best policy.

            I highly recommend that you complete some basic research. Your posts throughout this discussion have demonstrated a lack of knowledge on a complex topic and an inability to separate your desires/feelings from where the facts and data lead us during this discussion.

            I strongly recommend that you read the Italian official history, La campagna di grecia. Montanari covers the issues surrounding the surrender on pages 809-830. I will only offer two points at this time:

            Montanari page 816 [List to Cavallero]

            The commander general of the army Greek Epirus Army has asked for the surrender of his army [h]alt Negotiations are ongoing [h]alt In order not to interrupt these negotiations and to quickly reach the end of hostilities across the front, please, by order of the Fuehrer, to immediately stop the advance of the Italian troops and not to cross the line so far reached [h]alt Please send the official liaison to the Germans by air to Larissa to determine the dividing line and the durations of time required for the disarm of the Greek army and other important details to define [h]alt

            Note the approval of Hitler to this action. I will come back to Hitler in a minute.

            Next Montanari reproduces Mussolini’s speech of 10 June 1941 (pages 826-830). In this speech he doesn’t say that Italy defeated the Greeks. Instead Mussolini emphasis the valor and suffering of the Italian soldiers during the campaign. He then states (page 830) that “While Italian troops were preparing to liquidate the Greek Army…” he then transitions into the invasion of Yugoslavia. When he returns to Greece, he only states “The Greeks retreated with fighting rearguards and tried, at the last, by a trick in the authentic style of Ulysses, to stop at the border of Albania, and giving the armistice to the Germans and not to us.” No mention of victory.

            Next you should read Germany and the Second World War volume III. You should read pretty much the entire volume as it mostly deals with Italy and the Mediterranean theater. Here you will discover what the Germans actually said and did, not what you think they said and did.

            Back to Hitler (page 512). Here the authors states [about the Greek surrender to the Germans on 21 April] that “…and Hitler at first accepted this procedure. List even called upon General Cavallero, the Italian commander-in-chief in Albania, to halt his advance….” (phone call already provided above from Italian source). Then “After Mussolini complained to Hitler, the latter sent General Jodl to Greece to ensure Italian participation in the armistice.” Clearly a political decision that had nothing to do with the military situation.

            But it gets better. Here is a military opinion (continued from above). “List protested against this action, as it presented a humiliation for him as well as for the Greeks. His protests were, however, unavailing. On 23 April, without List but in the presence of Italian military representatives, Jodl accepted the final Greek capitulation in Salonkia. To avoid any further offensive to Italian arms, the Wehrmacht high command issued guidelines for press and military attachés forbidding any mention of these events.” Wow, even the German generals recognized that the events in Greece didn’t represent an Italian victory. List boycotted the ceremony and orders were issued to muzzle discussion.

            That is the German understanding of the events. If you really want more of the German viewpoint than the Germany volume above, read Der Deutsche Griechenland-Feldzug by Alex Buchner (Die Wehrmacht im Kampf Band 14).

            I have many more quotes from Italian and German sources.

            What text in Sadkovich are you referring to? I can’t find it and would appreciate it if you could provide me with the name of the article and the page number.

            I would appreciate you providing quotes and pages as well. See The Italo-Greek War in Context. Try starting on page 450 and go from there. ‘But by mid-March it was clear that Berlin intended to do as it pleased in the Balkans, …” “reports…indicating that the Germans were trying to prevent Italy….” ”By mid-June the Germans controlled the Greek economy….” Wasn’t an Italian war aim to create an Italian economic sphere in the Balkans? “The occupation of Greece thus destroyed any remaining illusions that Italy was more than another one of Germany’s ‘minor allies’,…”. You can’t get much more explicit than that. And there are more in that article, and he touches on this point in his other articles, but less explicitly.

            At this point I don’t feel like reproducing multiple books and articles here on CS.

            You need to do some serious research on this topic.

          • Hi Jeff,

            The quotes you have provided haven’t convinced me. For a start, I’m not particularly interested in what the Germans thought or their viewpoint! The volume you mentioned, ‘Germany and the Second World War volume III’ was written by a couple of Germans from the German point of view! And if we have learnt anything from Dr Sadkovich, we know that the German point of view is about as self-serving and prejudiced against the Italians as the Anglo point of view!

            Even the quotes from the Italian author Montanari don’t cut it either. List is asking Cavellero to halt the advance of the Italian Army (which confirms the Italians were advancing into Greek territory by the way) and asking PLEASE STOP your advance! The phrase, “by order of the Fuhrer” is meaningless. Hitler could not halt the Italian Army by ordering it to! He simply did not have the authority. The German communique came as a REQUEST and not an order. I think in the context, List was referring to “der Fuhrer” ordering him (List) to plead with Cavallero to halt the Italian advance, which under the circumstances, is a normal request.

            The fact that Mussolini did not mention the word “victory” or the phrase “Italy defeated the Greeks” in a speech he made on the 10th of June, you present as evidence!!!! Evidence by omission??? Come come Jeff. Surely you can do better than this.

            I read and re-read Sadkovich’s article carefully, the “Italo-Greek War in Context” and one of the contentions or theme that runs through it is that the Italians were NOT defeated by the Greeks as much as they were defeated by the Germans!!! Their own supposedly good and noble Teutonic allies!!! Perhaps you missed this revealing line in the article:

            “The Italo-Greek war thus rattled Berlin because it interfered with
            German efforts to establish its hegemony in its ally’s sphere of
            influence” (page 452).

            Not only did the Italians have to deal with Greece in that war, but according to Sadkovich, the Italians were able to put a brake on further German encroachment into Greece and the Balkans. Though not completely successful in keeping the Germans out of its sphere of influence, the Italians were able to put a brake on the Germans to some extent. Again, I see what the Italians have achieved (the glass half full); while you, like many Anglo authors, insist on seeing what the Italians failed to achieve (the glass half empty point of view).

            Not only did the Italians have to fight the Greeks largely on their own; fight the British largely on their own; they even had to contend with, in the words of Sadkovich, “a predatory German ally” intent on appropriating the Balkans and Greece for themselves after their miserable and embarrassing failure to subdue and invade England with Operation Sea-lion. Rather than fight the British they chose instead to appropriate Italy’s sphere!!!

            Again, I ask you Jeff: please provide me a single quote from a reputable historian stating unequivocally that the Italians were not victorious over the Greeks in the end, that the Greeks WON the war, or that it was only a nasty rumor that the Greeks surrendered to the Italians . What evidence do I have on my side? Well, an often neglected little document where the Greeks formally and unconditionally SURRENDERED to the Italians on the 23rd April in Thessaloniki. I know you are probably tired of me repeating this, but when one country surrenders to another country, to me that signifies something quite simple in all its clarity: that Country A is the victor and country B is the loser! I get to invade and control YOUR COUNTRY and tell YOU what to do and how to do it! I think this has been common knowledge since Roman times.

            I have read the excerpts you have provided and have investigated and researched them. You have liberally inferred a lot from them, as when Mussolini did not mention the word “victory” in his speech or where you wrote: “Wow, even the German generals recognized that the events in Greece didn’t represent an Italian victory.” I fail to see the connection you are trying to make here. Again, you take the German point of view, which is not surprising because the entire volumes were written by the German Military Academy! It is obvious they would have a vested interest in claiming the victory for themselves! Who wouldn’t? It would come as no surprise at all that if the volumes had been written by the British Military Academy, they would be claiming a whole string of excuses for their sorry debacle in Greece.

            Last point: When one has been lied to and deceived for so long by Anglo-German writers when it came to Italy’s role and performance in the war (which Sadkovich and others have revealed and revealed convincingly), then my attitude and approach goes something like this Jeff:

            70% of what has been written about Italy in the war is rubbish and therefore, not worth considering. These writers and the whole historiography of Anglo-German literature have only themselves to blame for this sorry predicament. Evidence is NOT producing a series of authors, one after another, all saying the same thing. They say the same thing because, as intrepid historians like David Irwing has shown, these arm-chair historians simply quote each other! In other words, rubbish is quoted and spread around using rubbish sources!

            I want REAL EVIDENCE, not a string of quotes from authors, who merely mimic and parrot each other Jeff! Take Sadkovich for example in his article “Reevaluating who won the Italo-British Naval Conflict”. He doesn’t just repeat the bull-shit of anglo authors one after another. NO! He provides real statistics and tonnage that show clearly and unequivocally that the Italian navy succeeded in its main mission of supplying the Italian Army in the Balkans and North Africa, embarrassingly denying the British any clear-cut victory in the Mediterranean.

            Perhaps you are the one who needs to re-read Sadkovich again?

          • One more point: This so-called surrender of General Tsolakoglou to Sepp Dietrich on the 20th April needs to be settled and then fully ignored. Tsolakoglou DID NOT HAVE PERMISSION BY THE PRIME MINISTER OF GREECE NOR GENERAL PAPAGOS TO SURRENDER! And certainly not to a tank commander. I know that the Greeks love to highlight this, as well as the anglos themselves, but the truth of the matter is that the surrender was unauthorized by the Greek leadership at the time and so can be safely tucked away in some foot-note and FORGOTTEN!

            The 23rd April surrender of the Greek Epirus Army to the Italian army represented by General Ferrero in Thessaloniki is the ONLY REAL SURRENDER that is valid and recognized.

          • Jeff Leser says:

            Annales

            You will face many more disappointments in your life and this discussion is just one of them.

            Again, I ask you Jeff: please provide me a single quote from a reputable historian stating unequivocally that the Italians were not victorious over the Greeks in the end, that the Greeks WON the war, or that it was only a nasty rumor that the Greeks surrendered to the Italians .

            I don’t know why I need to provide such a quote. Your entire argument is based on the supposed fact that every historian out there is saying exactly that: that the Italians couldn’t defeat the Greeks and they had to be bailed out by the Germans.

            I don’t know why I need to prove something that you already accept as fact….. If this is not true, what are you arguing about?

            Why don’t you provide a quote that states the Italians unequivocally defeated the Greeks and the Germans had absolutely nothing to do with the final historical result?

            I also reject the notion that my choice of historians is subject to your vetting. You have made it clear that you are incapable of distinguishing who is a reputable historian.

            Cloutier over the historians of the Militärgeschichtliches Forschungsamt? Over Montanari?

            REALLY…..

            I read and re-read Sadkovich’s article carefully, the “Italo-Greek War in Context” and one of the contentions or theme that runs through it is that the Italians were NOT defeated by the Greeks as much as they were defeated by the Germans!!!

            Okay, the Italians were defeated by the Germans and not the Greeks. I am good with that 😉

            while you, like many Anglo authors, insist on seeing what the Italians failed to achieve (the glass half empty point of view).

            The Italians decided to conquer Greece and failed. The Italians wants to reduce German influence in the Balkans and failed. The Italians want to gain economy dominance in the Balkans and failed. The Greek Campaign diverted critical troops and equipment from A.S. The Greek Campaign diverted critical troops and equipment from the attacks on Malta. The Greek Campaign gutted the Italian military for the remainder of the war.

            Tell me what they achieved besides avoiding defeat and being invited to the end-of-the-campaign party as Germany’s date?

            Now I do understand why the results were so and that the Germans had a hand in the negative outcome, but I will not whitewash the self-inflicted errors committed by the Italians. I will not give Italy credit for something they didn’t do.

            It is clear that nothing more can be gained by this discussion.

          • Jeff,

            You wrote: “Italians couldn’t defeat the Greeks and they had to be bailed out by the Germans” This is simply not a true statement. The Italians were defeating the Greeks. Even you admitted that given another month or two, the Italians would have prevailed. Historians like Hancock and Stockings (1999) and many others, shared the same view: that the Greeks were running low on munitions and supplies and were “at the end of their logistical tether.”

            Therefore, the second part of the above statement that the Italians had to be “bailed out by the Germans” does not follow. The Italians DID NOT WANT the Germans involved the first place. They tried hard to cancel Operation Marita. Haven’t you understood Sadkovich yet?? The Germans were in competition with the Italians: they wanted to “appropriate their sphere”. As the Greeks were weakening and the Italians were getting stronger, why would they need the Germans to “bail them out”? Jeff, you have been reading far to much anglo and german literature and have swallowed their propaganda hook, line and sinker.

            The fact that you can not provide me with a single “reputable” author who has irrefutably stated that the Italians lost the Greco-Italian war, speaks volumes. Yes, the Italians did not achieve all their aims. Yes, the war cost Italy dearly. Yes, the Germans muscled into Italy’s sphere. But win the war, the Italians certainly did. It isn’t true that they were not inside Greek territory by the time of the real surrender on the 23rd April (and not the “fake” surrender of the 19th April to Sepp). It doesn’t matter that “every historian” is claiming otherwise. For starters, it isn’t “every” historian. But as I explained, there has been such a vicious and sustained denigration of Italy’s role in the war for so long, that if there was one area of history that needs urgent historical revisionism, then this is it! Even Gerhard Weinberg, that doyen of the historical establishment, finally came out and admitted that “there has been far to much denigration of the performance of Italy’s forces during the conflict.” And since you like reading these old guys, then listen to him! Don’t just read him and then carry on believing the old myths about the Italians! Think! Use your critical faculties! THERE HAS BEEN FAR TOO MUCH DENIGRATION OF THE PERFORMANCE OF ITALY’S FORCES! ( Weinberg. The 2011 George C. Marshall Lecture in Military History,Some Myths of World War II). If you don’t believe Sadkovich, will you then believe Weinberg? Repeat Weinberg every day Jeff. Repeat the above 50 times a day for the next week until it actually starts to sink in! For God’s sakes man, Weinberg is talking to you! Listen to him! At least this old historian has come clean; the others are simply too gutless because they’ve made a fetish out of whipping the Italians for so long, and have made a damn good living out of it too!

            You wrote: “The Italians decided to conquer Greece and failed.” Not true. They did eventually conquer Greece and administered two-thirds of it. They WERE in the process of defeating the Greeks. Everyone knew this; even the Greeks themselves knew it, so how come you don’t?

            You wrote: “The Italians wants to reduce German influence in the Balkans and failed.” Not true. As Sadkovich has shown, they put a “brake” on the Germans. The Italian invasion of Greece “irritated” the Germans. Why? Because they wanted a privileged position in the Balkans. The Italians succeeded in denying them this (remember: cup half full?). If the Italians caused complications for the Germans, all well and good! God knows the Germans had often made life hard for the Italians that it was only right they should be paid back “in their own coin.”

            You wrote: “The Italians wanted to gain economic dominance in the Balkans and failed.” I don’t think so. They occupied large chunks of Slovenia, Croatia, Dalmatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, and two thirds of Greece and its many islands. I’d say, considering Italy’s limited resources and a predatory and perfidious ally like Germany on its back, not a bad showing: remember: cup half full view?)

            Patrick Cloutier? He’s someone I respect because like others, he used his common sense and knew that what the established historians were saying about the Italian Military during the war and what they actually achieved, didn’t quite add up. So he decided to do his own investigations. He just wasn’t content to be spoon-fed by the so-called “established historians”. I say: good luck to him and to many others who have started to wake up and realize they’ve been duped for so long about Italy’s role and performance in the war and how much it was short-changed.

            You wrote: “The Greek Campaign diverted critical troops and equipment from A.S. The Greek Campaign diverted critical troops and equipment from the attacks on Malta.” Yes we know all this! But by then it was too late. The Italians had to take Greece and the Balkans come hell or high water. But it also diverted critical British resources away from the African Campaign to Greece as well, thanks to that great knuckle-head, Churchill, whose “blunders” we are only know beginning to read about. Again, see David Irwing. He has a lot to say about that man!

            The Malta campaign? My god Jeff! The Italians were pleading with the Germans to help them take Malta! Badoglio went to Berlin to plead with Keitel to take Malta! Hitler vetoed it, even though many in the OKH agreed with the Italians! Do you really want to pin this one on the Italians too and make them a scapegoat??? The Greek campaign was over by April 1941. What, there wasn’t time to invade Malta then?

            You wrote: “Tell me what they achieved besides avoiding defeat?” First you tell me what the Germans achieved by April 1945? I tell you what the Italians achieved. They knocked a few teeth out of the old British lion between 1940 to 43, and that’s good enough for me! They represented 25% of total Axis forces. When Italy capitulated in Sept 1943, it left a gaping hole the Germans had to fill. They had to divert several of their divisions away from the Russian front where they were sorely needed, to counter the threat from the south. They soon missed and appreciated the Italians! But by then it was too late. The Germans had completely stuffed up and brought Italy, their one true ally and loyal partner, down with them!

            You wrote: “but I will not whitewash the self-inflicted errors committed by the Italians. I will not give Italy credit for something they didn’t do.” And what exactly were they suppose to do according to you? That the Italians committed errors is true. But didn’t the British, the Americans, the Russians and the Germans? No surprise here. The Italians over-reached themselves and bit off more than they could chew. But let’s look at it rationally. There were only 3 or 4 theatres they were involved in. The Balkans and Greece. North Africa. East Africa and Russia.

            Balkans and Greece. They did a good job defeating and overrunning Yugoslavia. They eventually overcame Greece. They gave the British a run for their money and hard time of it in North Africa and the Mediterranean. They fought well in Russia for their “ally” the Germans. They chased the British out of Somalia and put them on the defensive. You ask: “what did they achieve besides avoiding defeat?”. My god Jeff. You really don’t know? Three and a half years of a grueling duel between them and the anglo/commonwealth forces arrayed against them. What an absolutely puerile question: What did they achieve? What did you achieve? War is war. They achieved what they could achieve with their limited resources and a perfidious ally who only gave them grudging support and were stingy with resources ( The Italians asked for fuel for their ships to invade Malta but Hitler declined them even that!), an unreliable and vacillating ally who broke promises continually. But as Ciano noted on a number of occasions; when the Germans were winning, the more arrogant they became. But when they were losing battles, especially to the Russians, overnight they became very cordial to their Italian ally.

            Italy lost the war because Germany dragged it down. The Germans were useless ballast, an anchor around their necks. What did the Italians achieve you ask? Bringing the UK to its knees, bankrupting and exhausting it and ending their predominance in the Mediterranean and the world after 1945. Actually the biggest loser in the whole war was the UK! Haven’t you worked it out yet? Mussolini had actually achieved what he had originally set out to achieve: free up the Mediterranean, humble the British and dismantle its empire and arrogance!

            .

          • Jeff Leser says:

            Well nothing new in Annales latest comments except his disapproval of my scholarly skills.

            I find that Annales is offering nothing new and I see no reason to repeat myself.

            You can’t think if you don’t do research so you have information to think about.

            You have deliberately elected not to do the research. I have done the research.

            I will point out that not even Cloutier states that Italy won the campaign in Greece. He uses ‘Axis’ or ‘Italian and German’ when discussing the final results.

          • Jeff Leser says:

            For anyone with the desire to study this campaign, I recommend the following books.

            Mario Cervi The Hollow Legions. The easiest book for an English reader to find, it is also one of the better books detailing the campaign. The main problem with Cervi’s work is the lack of maps.

            USSME (Mario Montanari) La campaign di grecia. 3 volumes (narrative, documents, and maps/photos). Pretty much the definite work for the Italian side of the campaign, and pretty good for the Greek. Volume II has 336 documents, orders, meeting notes, etc., a treasure trove of data. If you are wiling to tackle Italian, these are the books to get.

            Italia Editice Ottobre 1940: la campagna di Grecia. A simpler account of the campaign with many maps and photos. A good companion to Cervi.

            Ceva, Luice Le Forze Armate. A detailed study of the Italian military during the war. Addresses all aspects of waging war; population, industry, the military, etc.

            Hellenic General Staff An Abridged History of the Greek-Italian and the Greek-German War. The other side, focused on the military operations.

            Papagos, Alexander The Battle of Greece 1940-1941. This is an English translation of the Greek Commander-in-Chief’s account of the war.

            Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt DVA Germany and the Second World War vols III and V. Volume III covers the military and political history, vol V (two parts) covers economic issues (to understand why Germany and not Italy had economic control)

            Tooze, Adam The Wages of Destruction. The discussion of Germany’s wartime economy. Covers relationships with Italy and the Balkans.

            Cloutier, Patrick Regio Esercito. Hey I do recommend reading it. I don’t recommend it as good research.

          • Jeff Leser says:

            I was looking through my home library and remembered I had a few more books that should be mentioned. To add to the list:

            Associazione nazionale alpini Le truppe Alpine nella seconda guerra mondiale. A good single volume history of the alpini during the war. At 83 pages that focus on the alpini units during the campaign, it is significant longer and more detailed than the 20+ pages in Cloutier’s book that covers all aspects of the Greek campaign.

            Bitzes, John Greece in World War II to April 1941. A good overview of the Greek side of the war. Not very detailed on the tactical fighting, but a good discussion of Greece’s situation.

            Burgwyn, H. James Empire on the Adriatic. If you still have questions whether Germany dominated the political and economic situation in the Balkans, this book provides details of the ‘Italian Empire’ in Yugoslavia.

            Carr, James The Defence and Fall of Greece 1940-1941. While discussing the operations of the Greek Army, the true value of this book is its coverage of the Greek Navy and Air Force. A nice addition to the Greek official previously mentioned.

            Dunning, Chris Courage Alone: The Italian Air force 1940-1943. A good general study of the Regia Aeronautica covering all fronts.

            USSME Le operazione della unità italiane in Jugoslavia (1941-1943). The Italian official on Yugoslavia. Only covers military operations, but does provide more detail on the events of April 1941.

          • This will definitely be my last comment for this post!

            Well I have no doubt that Jeff is sincere and means well, but I’m afraid he has been deceived by much of the so-called “reliable” and “authoritative” literature.

            That the Italian invasion of Greece was badly planned, is beyond doubt. While the plan was a sound one, it rested on the faulty assumption that the Greeks wouldn’t fight but capitulate, regardless of the intelligence reports being sent back to Comando Supremo. Hitler and many in the OKH also rejected vital intelligence when they chose to invade Russia, intelligence that indicated an industrial base, reserves of manpower and willingness to fight that the OKH and in particular Hitler, severely underestimated. Thus, as one writer explained, the blunder the Italians committed with Greece the Germans did with Russia ten times over! However, while the Italians were able to overcome the Greeks and achieve final victory, the Germans did not with their Russian opponents.

            As yet, Jeff, with his formidable list of “experts”, has failed to provide a clear statement from any of them stating the Italians lost the Greco-Italian War; or conversely, that the Greeks had been victorious. I am not talking about individual battles or offensives during the war, because it is clear that the Greeks had their battlefield victories. No, I am talking about final victory, the end of the day type victory. I am still waiting for that “evidence”. I mean, if the Italians were as “useless and incompetent” as many anglo writers would like us to believe, then it should be quite easy to find at least one of them risking their neck and their reputation, stating categorically that the ITALIANS LOST THE WAR.

            So, if they did not lose the war, they still didn’t win it. But how is that possible? It is made possible by how writers obfuscate history using a linguistic and semantic gymnastics. Anglo writers in particular are very very loath to write anything good about the Italians and the Italian role in the war. This loathing and reluctance, Dr Sadkovich and others, have explained as inherent racism and an attempt to conceal the less than admirable performance of the British themselves. So rather than throw light on their own ineptitude and weaknesses, they often use subterfuge and red herrings in an attempt to cover up their own inadequacies and failures by exaggerating the inadequacies and failures of the Italians instead. It’s an age old rhetorical and literary technique anglo writers seem quite adroit at using.

            Reading more intensely Sadkovich’s article “Italian Morale during the Italo-Greek War of 1940-1941” it is clear that he writes, not of defeat but rather of “setbacks” in the war. That the Italians suffered setbacks can hardly be denied and is no surprise, including setbacks in North Africa. But the British also had their setbacks, and plenty of them too.

            Here is what he wrote:

            Yet De Felice argues that public confidence oscillated
            with Italian defeats and victories, rising with Axis victories in early
            1941. This seems to have been the case not only for the public, but for the
            armed forces as well, which rallied from a jarring setback in Greece
            (page.97)

            While the Italians suffered a severe setback and morale had plummeted by mid January, overall morale had not collapsed.

            To what extent such feelings were Widespread is debatable, but it is
            clear that if Italian morale had oscillated dangerously it had not collapsed
            entirely.
            (page 102).

            He [General Soddu] thus saw the troops as discomfited and angry, not resigned or beaten…
            Clearly, Italian troops had considerable reservoirs of morale, even if at the most basic level of self-survival or not letting one’s comrades down.(page109).

            Of course, anglo writers like Knox, who have a visceral contempt for the Italian people as such will more often than not, focus in on one division breaking (such as the Lupi di Toscana division), and then hypocritically hold it up as an example of the malaise of the entire Italian army as seen below:

            The temporary collapse of a single division should not therefore be
            generalised and cannot be used to explain Italy’s failure to halt the Greek
            advance, as Knox does with Lupi di Toscana. p.105

            Or they choose to selectively quote phrases from Mussolini’s many utterances ad nausea, berating the leadership, the military, as if they were the gospel truth. Mussolini’s outbursts can best be explained as hyperbole mixed with the Latin temperament. For example, an Italian may cry out: “It’s a disaster!” over something quite minor and therefore, not meant to be taken literally. But anglo writers, many of whom are not all that familiar with the Italian language and mannerisms, will take such phrases literally and use them as so-called “evidence” in their books:

            This was a far cry from an offensive, and Bottai noted that Mussolini, who railed against the Italian people’s lack of character and the ineptitude of his military, had dropped his earlier refrain of ‘we will win’ in favor of ‘we cannot be defeated’. But Mussolini’s comments, repeatedly cited by historians, followed a setback that came after the front seemed to have been stabilised. They cannot be generalised to the whole conflict and, if Mussolini and other Italians suffered mood swings during the war, events at the front seemed to have justified them.

            So what did the average Italian soldier on the front, and their commanders actually think and feel? Reading Sadkovich’s article, one gets the feeling they did not feel defeated or broken by the Greeks:

            But he [Sacttini] also noted that Italian soldiers continued to fight and
            predicted that morale would rise as soon as Italian units returned to the
            offensive. p.109

            Nonetheless, when the Greeks launched their offensive in the Tepeleni
            sector in February, Italian troops threw them back and Italian artillery
            now began to take a toll of Greek troops. p.109

            Cavallero had raised significantly both combat efficiency and morale. As one fascist officer noted, by February everyone had enough to eat and everyone believed in victory. p.110

            In his [Cavallero] daily report for 22 February he assured Mussolini that with organic units of infantry in line, good artillery support and a functioning logistical apparatus ‘the war goes well’. Pleased that the Greek offensive had failed, he informed Rome that Greek morale was now suffering. p.110

            And the mood of the Greeks? Euphoric at first, but as the war dragged on, they in turn began to suffer the doubts, deprivations and the low morale that the Italians had at first suffered.

            Mussolini’s presence at the front evidently enthused the troops, and Scattini concluded that the ill-starred offensive had hurt Greek more than Italian morale. And that may have been the case, given heavy Greek losses, depressed Greek POWs, and a despondent mood in Athens.

            Still, on 18 April Cavallero noted with some pride that despite the presence of strong Greek resistance, the Venezia division had advanced 110
            kilometres in four days on foot, adding ‘more than this cannot be
            done’.Indeed, in the rush of victory, even the dismal Albanian
            landscape ,evoked pleasant reminiscences of home, and one Alpino was
            elated to see snow as his unit crossed into Greece because he thought it
            appropriate that theAalpini, whose toughness and heroism had
            symbolised the Italian war effort, should enter Greece through the
            mountains in the snow. page.111

            And finally, the end draws near.

            But the Italians had survived and, if not victorious, neither had they been defeated in Greece p.112

            Rather, after a disastrous opening gambit, they had contested control of
            the battlefield and then had begun to trade pieces with the Greeks,
            whose positional advantage diminished as the war continued and Italy
            made the full weight of its war potential felt. At that point, Greek morale
            seems to have begun to deteriorate while Italian morale, after reaching
            its nadir in mid-December, began gradually to rise, reaching its zenith
            during the Axis advance in mid-April. Hitler’s left-handed praise that
            German forces had won so easily only because the Italians had pinned
            down and worn out the Greeks contained more truth than the Nazi
            dictator probably intended. p.112

            Ultimately, this achievement translated into victory in Albania, albeit one cheapened by Germany’s easy romp through eastern Greece, a romp made possible by the Greek decision to throw the
            bulk of their forces against Italian, rather than German, formations. P.112

            the Italian troops may have been proud to have held and then
            defeated the Greeks, p.112

            If the troops and officers in the field held firm, it is also fairly clear that
            the high command did not panic. Mussolini’s mood certainly shifted
            with the events in Albania and the pretensions of his German ally, but
            his morale seems to have rebounded and, as De Felice has shown, he
            never accepted the end of the parallel war, an end imposed on him by
            Hitler, not by the Greeks p.114

            So, it appears that the Italian soldier certainly thought in terms of victory. However, it is true to say that the image and reputation of the fascist leadership had suffered and there were lots of recriminations and red faces all round. Anglo authors often assume that the setback in Greece was terminal to Italy’s war effort. It did nothing of the kind. Mussolini and Ciano were still very confident of victory, and the Italian people were still largely behind their government and country while continuing to see the British as a perfidious enemy that needed to be overcome.

            Was the Greco-Italian War a “defeat” for Italy. Regardless of the howls of hysteria and black-washing from many Anglo and German writers, no it wasn’t. Was it a “victory” then? I certainly believe it was, as did many of the Italian soldiers who fought in it. But as I have stated, it was a victory that was won at a high cost, perhaps too high a cost for it damaged the reputation of the fascist leadership, caused consternation among the public, not to mention, the high cost in human lives. For the Italians, it was a wake-up call. Quick victories over Ethiopians and Spanish militia were one thing; fighting a European war against other Europeans was quite another. But learn the Italians did. The Greco-Italian War made them more cautious and to better plan and coordinate their operations. Once bitten- twice shy. The Italians launched themselves into Greece believing the Greeks were so many “facceti negri”. Their successes in East Africa and, at the time, North Africa, lulled the Italians into a cavalier over-confidence.

            As noted by Sadkovich:

            Because the Italo-Greek war was a crucial turning point in the Second
            World War, its impact has been exaggerated by most authors, who are
            content with the superficial observation that it ended Mussolini’s
            ‘parallel war’ as public confidence in the regime and both the prestige
            and the morale of the armed forces were shattered by the shock of the
            retreat into Albania. Yet De Felice argues that public confidence oscillated with Italian defeats and victories, rising with Axis victories in early 1941. This seems to have been the case not only for the public, but for the armed forces as well, which rallied from a jarring setback in Greece.

            And finally, there is still that awkward and hard to explain surrender document signed on the 23rd April at Saloniki where the Greeks surrendered to the Italians. Jeff may call it superficial, but a surrender document is a surrender document; there is no getting around it.

          • Jeff Leser says:

            Well I have no doubt that Jeff is sincere and means well, but I’m afraid he has been deceived by much of the so-called “reliable” and “authoritative” literature.

            Again an immature and childlike comment.

            Nothing else to comment on. Readers can review my comments and decide for themselves.

            But the Italians had survived and, if not victorious, neither had they been defeated in Greece p.112

            This pretty much says it all.

          • Not quite Jeff. Elsewhere in his article, Sadkovich does mention “victory” and “victorious”, as well as “defeat” and “set-back”. However, the expression “set-back” is more common. So even Sadkovich is ambivalent here, but on the balance of his writings, I would say he leans on the side of “victory” for the Italians.

            So it comes down to how one defines “victory”. The Italian “victory” could be described as a Pyrrhic victory because it came at a great cost to the Italians; or it could be defined as a simple “conquest” – which is defined as a conquest – the simple act of subjugating a people. One can use adjectives and qualifiers to describe a victory, as in: it was a messy victory; an indecisive victory, a costly victory; a cheap victory; a clear-cut victory; a diplomatic victory; a political victory, a compromised victory.

            However, as the Italians held down, fought and were wearing down the bulk of the Greek forces in Albania, and that they were in the process of overcoming it before the German intervention of April 6, and that the Germans managed to outflank the Greeks and the Commonwealth forces relatively easily thanks in large part to the Italians, then I am left with the conclusion that the Italians were victorious over the Greeks. They ultimately “triumphed” over the Greeks.

            The problem is the German intervention of 6th April known erroneously as the “Battle of Greece”. It wasn’t a separate battle, but merely an “intervention” initially requested by the Italians and then later withdrawn. But what if, instead of the Germans, the Bulgarians intervened solely and managed to outflank the Greeks, drawing units away from the Epirus front, weakening it sufficiently to allow the Italians a break through? Then would anglo historians scream and rant that it was solely a “Bulgarian victory”? But because it was the “Germans” and anglo military historians are very much enthralled by the “Germans” almost to a masochistic fetish and who in their eyes, can simply do no wrong and are “real warriors” and not the pretend ones like the eyeties and the other wops and wogs in the neighborhood, then the honor and glory must go to them surely? This is precisely the type of prejudiced thinking that used to pass for “good military history.” Fortunately, times are changing and a new crop of historians are emerging who are no longer content to swallow the standard line.

            Another scenario. What if it were the Germans who were pushed back and held up on the Epirus front, and it was the Italians who intervened on 6th April? Let’s call the operation, “Operation Save the Hun”. So therefore, the only real “victors” were the Italians, not the Germans. Uuh? Interesting scenario. Who would the anglo historians give the victory laurels to then? The Germans or to the Italians? My guess is they would still give the victory laurels to the Germans and do their best to downplay the Italian “rescue” of the Germans using all sorts of rationales and excuses and very carefully selected “historical evidence” which can be used to justify just about any argument or reasoning.

            Lastly, we don’t have to be “passive” readers of military history. History, especially military history, is written a certain way; it follows its own tail. Many historians follow the norm, the generally accepted versions, because it’s safer to do so. But as I pointed out earlier, there is a new crop of historians who are re-evaluating and re-interpreting the orthodox lines, in a word; historical revisionism is making headway. I choose to be an active historical revisionist and based on a new interpretation of the evidence and common sense and the existence of an actual surrender document, I choose to see the Greco-Italian war as not only an Axis victory, but an Italian one as well.

            And remember! History is 10% fact and 90% interpretation of those facts!

          • Jeff Leser says:

            As Annales has written a long, post, I should do him the courtesy of writing a long post in response. After all, it is only fair :-) .

            To start, this discussion (at least my side of it) has been focused only the question of whether Italy militarily won the war against Greece. We agreed that the Greeks didn’t defeat the Italians militarily, but did create a stalemate. So Annales repeated requests that I provide a statement that the Italians lost is meaningless, as I have never stated they lost the military campaign.

            There is no reason for me to continue to support my other statements as Annales has judged “ I’m afraid he has been deceived by much of the so-called “reliable” and “authoritative” literature.”

            Note that Annales hasn’t offered any support that my sources are inaccurate or wrong, In fact, Annales hasn’t read any of them. I therefore must conclude that Annales will reject anything I present because he has chosen to be ignorant. So another reason not to offer more data for this discussion.

            Annales then asks how it is possible that Italy didn’t win or lose the war. As I have stated, the Axis won the war because of Germany’s decisive military success. The Italians didn’t lose militarily, but the best they could achieve was a stalemate with Greek forces occupying parts of Albania. That is not a military victory. Stopping the enemy from occupying your country (Albania) is not a victory if you initiated the war to occupy their country (Greece).

            Cloutier page 65 “By 15 March, the offensive [Italian Primavera Offesa] had lost its impetus. Fighting would still continue, but only the introduction of German forces would break the deadlock in the Balkans.” [my bold]. So Annales’ chosen source states that the Italians were unable to militarily break the stalemate. I previously noted that Cloutier never states Italy won, but couches the results as either the ‘Axis’ or ‘Italy and Germany’.

            Annales argued that Italy was the one that gained the fruits of the Axis victory. I argued it was quite the reverse. Italy failure to militarily defeat Greece allowed Germany to dominate the region. This was completely opposite of Italy’s strategic goals. Germany was now making the decisions in the Balkans, not Italy. Germany decided which parts of Greece each power would occupy based on German, not Italian requirements. Germany dominated the local resources/economy, not Italy (explicitly stated by Sadkovich as previous cited, supported by many other sources). Italy possibly sacrificed Africa settentrionale (by starving A.S. of military resources while reinforcing Greece), and also pretty much gutted Italian military capability. All these points were presented as part of Sadkovich’s argument in The Italo-Greek War in Context.

            Since I have “been deceived by much of the so-called “reliable” and “authoritative” literature” without any of it being demonstrated as incorrect, there is no reason to offer more sources and cites. Annales has yet to disprove (or even read) the ones I have already offered.

            The remainder of Annales post doesn’t answer the question ‘whether Italy militarily won the war against Greece.’ He does try to introduce other factors that haven’t been part of the discussion.

            This is discussion has never been about:

            1. Whether the Axis won the war against Greece. They did.

            2. Whether the Italian soldiers fought bravely. They did. I have never stated otherwise.

            3. Whether Italy’s ability to create a stalemate aided Germany’s successful military invasion. It did, that is why it is an Axis military victory and not solely an Italian military victory (see my Cloutier cite). What Italy couldn’t militarily achieve by itself it militarily achieved with Germany.

            4. Whether Germany created the mess in the Balkans. I feel Sadkovich makes a good argument, but it doesn’t support an Italian victory. In fact, whether or not Germany made the mess, they certainly cleaned it up in April 1941. So this point does nothing to support an Italy victory.

            5. “That Italy’s role in WW2 has been marginalized and in some cases, misrepresented, in English language historical works.” This is a quote from my Sep 30 10:02 post. I agreed that this is case, so why does this issue consume most of Annales writing? That doesn’t mean everything written in ‘English’ sources is wrong, and truly much of it correct. If Annales wishes to discuss this issue, I have already started a thread on sources in the CS forum.

            6. Whether the Allies suffered set-backs. So what? This is immaterial to the discussion. No one is claiming the UK won in Greece because the Italians surrender to the UK in 1943. No one is claiming that the UK won at Gazala in 1942 because the Italians surrendered in 1943 and the Germans in 1945.

            7. That Germany suffered set-backs. Again, so what. Is anyone claiming that Russia didn’t defeat Germany? I must have missed that statement.

            I will use one of Annales cites: “Mussolini’s mood certainly shifted with the events in Albania and the pretensions of his German ally, but his morale seems to have rebounded and, as De Felice has shown, he never accepted the end of the parallel war, an end imposed on him by Hitler, not by the Greeks” p.114 [my bold]

            Note that while Mussolini never accepted the end of parallel war, Sadkovich clearly states the parallel war was over and its end was imposed by Hitler. How is that for German dominance? Was this outcome an Italian strategic goal? I think not.

            Finally to the only argument Annales makes that actually is an issue between us and actually bears on the issue of whether Italy won: The surrender. I will not repeat my previous arguments. I will only ask him:

            When will you, Annales, write your article on how Italy defeated France in 1940? After all, Italian soldiers fought bravely. Anglo writers hammer that Italian effort in the same way they hammer Italy about Greece. France surrendered to Italy. They even signed in the surrender document in Rome. Italy occupied parts of France based on the surrender. So if surrender is the sole determinate of victory, then Italy defeated France. Your logic, not mine.

            Try arguing that one on web forums.

          • Jeff Leser says:

            Many issues with you comments.

            And remember! History is 10% fact and 90% interpretation of those facts!

            Maybe in your world, but the reality is that history is 90% facts and 10% interpretation. You develop a theory or scenario and then work hard to find the facts. And you try to find all the facts, not just the ones that support your theory. As you collect the facts, you see if the facts fit. If they don’t, you change your theory.

            Anyone can sit in their chair and develop a theory about why something happened in the past. The real challenge/work is the research to demonstrate that the theory is, in fact, correct.

            Lastly, we don’t have to be “passive” readers of military history. History, especially military history, is written a certain way; it follows its own tail. Many historians follow the norm, the generally accepted versions, because it’s safer to do so. But as I pointed out earlier, there is a new crop of historians who are re-evaluating and re-interpreting the orthodox lines, in a word; historical revisionism is making headway. I choose to be an active historical revisionist and based on a new interpretation of the evidence and common sense and the existence of an actual surrender document, I choose to see the Greco-Italian war as not only an Axis victory, but an Italian one as well.

            Actually you haven’t chosen to be active historical revisionist. You are merely being a revisionist and arguing a minor sematic point that ultimately has no historical meaning.

            Whether or not Italy ‘won’ against Greece is immaterial. What is historically important is that:

            1. Under the historical conditions, Italy couldn’t win the military campaign without German help.

            2. Italy severely damaged its military potential to affect events in other theaters by committing scare resources in a failed bid to militarily win the war against Greece.

            3. Italy lost its influence in the Balkans because Germany was able to dominate due to its military success.

            4. Italy didn’t gain any economic advantage. In fact, with Germany’s making the decisions on the occupation zones, Italy now found itself forced to support a population that couldn’t support itself. This was made worst by Germany’s plundering of the economic resources of the Balkans for her own use, leaving little for Italy’s use. Furthermore, Italy was saddled with providing the bulk of the resources to garrison the occupied areas, freeing German resources for other activities.

            5. Because of 1-4 above, Italy lost its strategic freedom.

            If you disagree with any of these points, we can talk about those points.

            If you agree, then any statement of an Italian ‘victory’ is meaningless given the historical outcomes of the victory.

            In all, everything that followed April 1941 in the Balkans happened for the convenience/needs of Germany and not Italy. The German invasion prevent Italy from achieving any of its strategic goals and positioned Germany, not Italy, as the decision maker in the Balkans.

            All this is what Sadkovich argued in his The Italo-Greek War in Context article.

            Sadkovich is a historical revisionist. But his revisions are:

            1. That Mussolini didn’t invade Greece because of a whim but that he was logically reacting to German actions. BTW, Greece was a strategic error, but the roots of that error were German and not Italian.

            2. That Greece wasn’t a side show but a significant turning point during 2GM.

            He isn’t arguing that Italy ‘won’ by any stretch of the imagination. What he is arguing is that Italy’s failure had a greater impact on the war than most scholars have previously considered.

          • Jeff,

            Any historian will tell you that history is mostly “made up” by historians; that there are at least several versions of the same historical event; and the further back in history one goes, the more history starts to resemble fiction, or a made up story. Indeed there are historians who will argue that there is no such thing as an historical “fact” – read Carr on What is History?(1961) or more recently, Curthoy and Docker Is History Fiction? (2005). We can’t even be sure the Holocaust actually happened the way it did!

            A severe problem and distortion of history is when writers input their own proclivities and moral judgments as that knucklehead anglo historian MacGregor Knox does in his work on fascism and Mussolini. He doesn’t like fascism and Mussolini and it shows! Since many anglo historians, especially those who wrote in the 1960’s and 1970’s and even the 1980’s do not particularly like Italians and are contemptuous of Italian culture and customs, they tend to write pejoratively and dismissively about the Italian role and performance in the war.

            Here is just a sample, a small taste of what Sadkovich maintains about Anglo-bias and distortions in his article: Anglo-American bias and the Italo-Greek war 1940-41. It’s a pretty damning indictment of the whole corpus of anglo-american (throw in German too) of writings about the Italians and the war:

            Yet Knox and other Anglo-American historians have not only selectively used Italian sources, they have gleaned negative observations and racist
            slurs and comments from British, American, and German sources and then presented them as objective depictions of Italian political and military
            leaders, a game that if played in reverse would yield some interesting results regarding German, American, and British competence.

            Can we ever forgive them? Yes we can, because as Jesus stated: “Lord they know what what they do.” We can forgive them, but it doesn’t mean we have to believe them or see things “their way” as Jeff would like us to do.

            Now in response to Jeff’s comment above:

            but the reality is that history is 90% facts and 10% interpretation. WRONG!

            Whether or not Italy ‘won’ against Greece is immaterial. Why is it immaterial? I have no doubt that if it were the British or the Americans fighting the Greeks instead of the Italians, their historians and politicians would not doubt have written history in such a way as to declare it a MOMENTOUS VICTORY! But of course, we are only dealing with the Italians, and so the question is really “immaterial” and not that important. After all, as one anglo historian wrote, the Italians were simply “useless ballast”, so why would it be important?

            Under the historical conditions, Italy couldn’t win the military campaign without German help. WRONG.Several historians like Stockings and Hancock believe that the Italians would have overcome the Greeks eventually, perhaps another month or two, without German assistance. You yourself have admitted as much in another post, or have you forgotten?

            Points 2 to 4 are superfluous to my contention that the Italians defeated the Greeks. We are not discussing or disputing whether it was a good idea to invade Greece, or whether the Germans won out at the expense of the Italians and they ended up with the loot and the economic dominance. I am only concerned about who won the Greco-Italian War of 1940-41 and I sincerely believe and maintain, the Italians did (remember – I have that ace up my sleeve Jeff – that little thing of the surrender of the Greek arm of the Epirus to General Ferrero on the 23rd April in Salonika). I am trying to locate it and its terms, but having difficulty. Any idea where I might get a copy and post it on this site, ComandoSupremo?

            That the Germans were bad and perfidious allies to the Italians is beyond question, and that you and Sadkovich, have proven. However, I tend to believe that the Balkans and Greece were a bit of a side-show actually, and that the real determination of the war was being fought in the titanic battles on the Russian steppe. The Axis lost the war there, not in Greece or the Balkans. Or more specifically, the Germans lost there, and brought Italy and Japan down with it, as well as the Hugarians, the Finns and the Bulgarians and all those smaller nations like Estonia, Latvia, etc,. and peoples in Europe who had hoped and longed for the defeat of Communist Russia.

          • Jeff Leser says:

            Annales

            I don’t understand why you are talking about Carr and Docker/Curthoy? I can only assume that you are accusing me of these fallacies. Since I am quite aware of these issues, I guess you need to demonstrate with facts how I am guilty of these shortfalls. Just because you disagree doesn’t mean I am wrong.

            I will note that Carr is a determinist. So Greece fighting Italy results in a stalemate. Germany invades Greece and Greece surrenders. Which is causal to Greece’s surrender? This is pure Carr. In fact, why don’t your reread Carr and see what he states on the subject of facts and causality. I have previously pointed out to you that your argument lacks causality to the issue.

            So apply his approach on your ‘surrender is the proof’ argument. That would require you to thread the facts back to determine the events that caused the Greeks to surrender.

            I will also point out that Carr rejected alt history. So whether or not Italy could defeat Greece is immaterial to history.

            So please don’t throw Carr out in this debate unless your truly plan to follow what he wrote.

            You also don’t have many of the facts. You haven’t done any detailed research and you have consistently rejected reading most of the books on this subject. Just because you don’t like Montanari’s conclusions doesn’t mean you don’t read his works. His works contain a myriad of facts that are important to this discussion. Carr doesn’t state you ignore facts.

            Stockings and Hancock believe that the Italians would have overcome the Greeks eventually,

            They did state this.

            perhaps another month or two, without German assistance.

            They didn’t state that.

            You yourself have admitted as much in another post, or have you forgotten?

            No, you are merely a poor reader. What I stated [caps are added]:

            (September 14, 2015 at 1:43 AM): [Leser] On one hand, I am confident to state that, GIVEN NO OUTSIDE ASSISTANCE to either side, Italy would ultimately prevail. I agree that the strategic failure of the Tepeleni offensive demonstrated that the Greeks themselves lacked the ability to militarily end the war. As seen in other theaters, the Italian military could learn. As long as TECHNOLOGIES STAYED RELATIVELY EQUAL, the Italian military would improve. Italy had greater resources and those resources would increasingly become decisive.

            Note that I didn’t say in a month, or a few months, I said ultimately prevail with two key caveats: No assistance and no technological gaps. Note that UK assistance was happening and it was increasing before the German invasion. To say that Italy would have won given UK but not German assistance is unlikely.

            but the reality is that history is 90% facts and 10% interpretation. WRONG!

            Wrong only in your world Annales, not in the real world of historians. You yourself have demonstrated in this discussion that the lack of research only makes you arguments appear foolish.

            I am only concerned about who won the Greco-Italian War of 1940-41 and I sincerely believe and maintain, the Italians did (remember – I have that ace up my sleeve Jeff – that little thing of the surrender of the Greek arm of the Epirus to General Ferrero on the 23rd April in Salonika). I am trying to locate it and its terms, but having difficulty.

            Please note my comments about causality. When will you, Annales, write your article on how Italy defeated France in 1940? After all, Italian soldiers fought bravely. Anglo writers hammer that Italian effort in the same way they hammer Italy about Greece. France surrendered to Italy. They even signed the surrender document in Rome. Italy occupied parts of France based on the surrender. So if surrender is the sole determinate of victory, then Italy defeated France. Your logic, not mine.

            Try arguing that one on web forums.

            Any idea where I might get a copy and post it on this site, ComandoSupremo?

            I believe it is in Montanari.

            However, I tend to believe that the Balkans and Greece were a bit of a side-show actually, and that the real determination of the war was being fought in the titanic battles on the Russian steppe.

            Like I stated, you are no revisionist. You are merely an Italian fanboy.

          • Jeff, you wrote:

            I will note that Carr is a determinist. So Greece fighting Italy results in a stalemate. Germany invades Greece and Greece surrenders. Which is causal to Greece’s surrender? This is pure Carr. In fact, why don’t your reread Carr and see what he states on the subject of facts and causality. I have previously pointed out to you that your argument lacks causality to the issue.

            Ok, how’s this for causality Jeff:

            Italy invades Greece which causes stalemate which causes the Germans to intervene which causes the defeat of Greece.

            THEREFORE, it follows that if Italy did not invade Greece, Greece would not have been defeated!
            Or, to put it another way, Italy’s invasion of Greece led to the defeat of Greece because it caused a series of events to follow, one of which was the British involvement in Greece which it itself resulted in the Germans intervening.

            THEREFORE, it follows logically that the Italian invasion of Greece resulted in the defeat of Greece. Italy was instrumental in Greece’s defeat. And since it was Italy’s aim to defeat and occupy Greece, Italy succeeded in doing just that.

            Look Jeff, I think we need to take a step back and get out heads out of dusty old text-books and actually start to think again. You know it is quite possible to be able to quote all sorts of authors and authorities with “evidences” (mostly made up of their own conjectures, interpretations, hypotheses, deductions, premises, explanations and inferences and pure hair-brained guesswork), and to actually use OUR brains rather than the brains of others. It is quite possible to have the “evidence” but come to the wrong conclusion: Wikipedia editors are proof of that!

            Now, I never claimed that the Italians defeated the Greeks militarily and won the war by military means. It was a stalemate. The Greeks checked the Italians militarily. However, it is actually quite possible to win wars by other means. For example, there can be victories brought about by bluffing your enemy, by outmaneuvering your enemy, by diplomatic and political means, having better alliances and friends in high places, economic means, and so forth. I will give you an example that comes to mind readily.

            In 1798 the French were able to conquer Malta without firing a shot. The large French fleet, led by Bonaparte, simply appeared off the coast of Malta. An ultimatum was given to the Grand Master of Malta, which was rejected. Napoleon ordered his troops to land at several locations around Malta. Within two days, the Grand Master “surrendered” the island to him, WITHOUT A SHOT BEING FIRED!

            Now, the purists and the armchair historians may claim that the French never defeated the Knights militarily and therefore, it was either a stalemate, or Napolean didn’t deserve to be called the victor, or that it wasn’t a real “victory” at all, or better still, it was an “undeserved victory”, made possible because the French were assisted by a band of Maltese rebels who undermined the Knights and wanted them out of Malta.

            So how do we know that it was a French “victory’? Well, as with the Italians, there existed (a) a treaty of surrender document signed by the representatives of both sides, (b) boots on the ground. The French, like the Italians, simply occupied the land, and (c), like the Italians, the French kicked out the old regime and installed a new one! The same conditions can apply for just about any war, even modern ones.

            So, like the French who defeated the Knights of Malta, the Italians likewise defeated the Greeks. It wasn’t a “military” victory in that the French did not militarily defeat the Knights, as the Italians did not militarily defeat the Greeks. However, both received crucial third-party aid: for the French, it was a group of Maltese rebels operating inside Malta; for the Italians, it was the Germans who undermined the Greek resistance by outflanking it. Both the Italians and the French were able to walk in and take possession of their opponent’s land. Like the French, the Italians dissolve the native regime and installed their own. They were the new bosses, the new masters over the populace they ruled.

            So, are we a little clearer now? As history has proven, wars can be won by military and non-military means. The Italians tried the “military” option and it didn’t work out. They were checked by the Greeks. But, at the end of they day, they “won” because of the conditions they satisfied above. It’s no use arguing “but the Germans helped them! the Germans helped them! they couldn’t have done it without the Germans!” as if war itself is a game played by children: ie. “but you cheated! that’s not fair! you had help!” So what!, smiles the little boy who won the candy and is sitting smugly on the tree branch above. Nah nah nah narrrh nah! I’ve won; you’ve lost!

          • Now to your other comment:

            Please note my comments about causality. When will you, Annales, write your article on how Italy defeated France in 1940? After all, Italian soldiers fought bravely. Anglo writers hammer that Italian effort in the same way they hammer Italy about Greece. France surrendered to Italy. They even signed the surrender document in Rome. Italy occupied parts of France based on the surrender. So if surrender is the sole determinate of victory, then Italy defeated France. Your logic, not mine.

            I’m glad you brought up the Italian invasion of France, because I was thinking of submitting an article on why I believe the Italians triumphed in that contest. Again, it is similar to the Greek invasion, but it also has important differences. One of them is that the actual duration of the fight was much less, minuscule compared to the Greek campaign. For starters, the actual engagement lasted about 3 to 4 days. Still, in the end, the Italians gained a good armistice deal from the French and did well capturing Menton and penetrating as far as they did against a very well entrenched enemy.

            Of course, the nincompoop anglos will insist on seeing it differently. It is just amazing to me and to so many others, how one event, the Italian Invasion of France, can be viewed so differently. As I said before, history is made up of 10% fact and 90% interpretation of those facts. And the further back you go, the more this rule applies. It isn’t that there is an absence of facts, it is just that historians only know what they know and what they choose to reveal and what they choose to focus on or gloss over. You can bet your bottom dollar that if the Italians did actually achieve anything good or spectacular, it would be either downplayed, dismissed, qualified or hushed up.

            Just to prove the stupidity of the anglo, here we have an attack on France where ground was taken, fortifications were overcome and progress made in just 3 or 4 days of fighting. Now most sensible people would conclude that considering the brevity of the fighting and the enormous difficulties presented by the terrain and weather and the line of French fortifications, that the Italians should be congratulated for what they achieved in the little time they had to achieve it in.

            Sigh, but not so the anglo. They claim it was a “defeat”, a “humiliation”, a “fiasco” and proof, if ever there was, that the Italian military were simply a bunch of dago incompetents.

            The only thing it actually proves is just how morally and intellectually bankrupt the poor anglo has become.

          • I’m not sure why Jeff is so anti any opinion other than the anglo viewpoint, I served in the RNZAF in the 80s the topic of the Greek-Italo war has always been up for debate, many were of the opinion that Greece could not have sustained its stalemate and was on the verge of collapse. The Germans intervened because they needed Italian troops to commit to the invasion of Russia and so needed the elite troops to divert to the Russian campaign rather than eventually be sent to Greece .

            The opinion of Annales is equally valid as the pro anglo view point which IS heavily opinionated and slanted.

            Yes I agree that Italy did not gain the outcome they were looking for or needed in the Greek campaign, but I also see your viewpoint as being one of an allies fanboy and lacking objectivity, which is a pity.

          • Hi adepss, I don’t know you, but I welcome your support nonetheless. You ask “why Jeff is so anti-any opinion other than the anglo viewpoint” and why he appears an “allies fanboy” I think I know the answer. It’s because he’s read a great deal of “anti-Italy-in-the-war” literature, that’s why. Perhaps a life-time’s worth. When one spends a lifetime reading anti-Semitic literature, one generally becomes anti-Semitic! One one spends years reading Klu Klux Klan literature, it is no surprise one becomes a racist! It one reads any type of literature that is slanted and biased against an ethnic group or people, then over time, one’s views become slanted and biased and therefore, in error.

            As I said before, Jeff means well and is obviously an avid reader of all things WW2, but if the fundamental literature is in error or has a fundamental pre-existing misconception, then the conclusions drawn, are in error.It will take years and several generations before such faulty misconceptions are identified and exposed.

          • Quote fro Jeff “To avoid any further offensive to Italian arms, the Wehrmacht high command issued guidelines for press and military attachés forbidding any mention of these events.” Wow, even the German generals recognized that the events in Greece didn’t represent an Italian victory. List boycotted the ceremony and orders were issued to muzzle discussion.

            Jeff you are interpreting the German reaction incorrectly they were merely trying to get the Greeks to surrender asap and since the Greeks were offended and incensed by the Italian invasion they did not want any further humiliation, that is all, I do NOT see anywhere in German “you are obviously using an English translation. But in the German version they never denied that it wasn’t an Italian victory, there are references that this was one war and it was assistance via intervention or better yet as there is NO German statement claiming “intervention” per se but merely sent in to support the Italians and make sure Greece was defeated asap.

          • Hi adepss,

            You wrote:

            the German version they never denied that it wasn’t an Italian victory, there are references that this was one war and it was assistance via intervention or better yet as there is NO German statement claiming “intervention” per se but merely sent in to support the Italians and make sure Greece was defeated asap.

            Thanks adepss. That is how I read it: the Germans intervened to support the Italians and to break the stalemate. Of course, the Brits and the Greeks would read “bailed out the Italians”. Wording is very, very important, and at nearly every turn, they will choose to use the more pejorative term. So instead of “assist”, they will invariably write: “bailed out”, “rescued”, etc,. Even blind Fredie can see how blatantly biased and unwarranted and prejudiced the anglos have become in nearly ALL their so-called “objective analysis” of the “facts”. And if anyone is in any doubt, just scan many of the Wikipedia articles like the Greek dominated notorious “Greco_Italian War” article. And if you think it is biased, partisan, lacking objectivity, balance and neutrality NOW, it was much worse before I got stuck into it and threatened to disrupt and vandalize the entire article unless some drastic editing was done! Ultimately but very reluctantly, a couple of wiser heads prevailed and those senior editors did revise it to make it less unbalanced and more neutral. Of course, it still lacks fairness and balance, but it is a BIG IMPROVEMENT to how it used to be, much to the chagrin and annoyance of the greek clique who virtually had a strangle-hold over the article, making it look like it was a press release straight from the nationalist right-wing Gold Dawn Party HQ in Athens.

            Personally all their works on the war and in particular, Italy’s role in it (Knox, Mack Smith, Liddel Hart, Levine, J. R. Thackrah, and a whole battalion of such oxbridge historians and other popular historical (fiction)) writers should be collected and changed into something more useful for society, like recycled toilet paper but with their words still legible!

          • Jeff Leser says:

            I’m not sure why Jeff is so anti any opinion other than the anglo viewpoint,

            Because I have been arguing the Italian viewpoint. My sources are Italian. I don’t see how using Italian sources makes me guilty of the anglo viewpoint.

            Annales keeps throwing the anglo angle out yet has never offered anything to support it.

            Yes I agree that Italy did not gain the outcome they were looking for or needed in the Greek campaign, but I also see your viewpoint as being one of an allies fanboy and lacking objectivity, which is a pity.

            For the fanboy comment to Annales, that was uncalled for on my part. My apologies to Annales.

            Humm you agree with me that the Italians didn’t get what they wanted yet my viewpoint is as an allied fanboy. So what about my opinion makes me a Allied fanboy?

            Why do you, adepss, think that Italy won (if that is what you believe)?

            Jeff you are interpreting the German reaction incorrectly they were merely trying to get the Greeks to surrender asap and since the Greeks were offended and incensed by the Italian invasion they did not want any further humiliation, that is all, I do NOT see anywhere in German “you are obviously using an English translation. But in the German version they never denied that it wasn’t an Italian victory, there are references that this was one war and it was assistance via intervention or better yet as there is NO German statement claiming “intervention” per se but merely sent in to support the Italians and make sure Greece was defeated asap.

            Please proved the cites in the German edition. I have the German edition and I read German. I used the English edition only because I felt it was easier for the group to check for themselves.

            The Germans did want a fast surrender. The fast surrender does explain the lenient terms given the Greeks, but that doesn’t explain List’s statements or his actions in support of his statements. It also doesn’t explain the guidelines for the press except for how I presented it; not to insult the Italians with the fact that the Germans felt the Italian shouldn’t be at the surrender. So please a cite or two where the German edition states it was an Italian victory, that they believe Italy would win but it wasn’t fast enough, their explanation of why the press guidelines, or anything you might feel is germane.

            Most of rest of the latest posts are merely accusations or on topics that were never part of the discussion on my part. They only issue between Annales and I is whether the Italians won.

            If you wish to discuss the impact on Russia, whether Italy was duped into attacking, whether Italian has been maligned in anglo sources, take it to the forum. If you wish to challenge the quotes I have presented, then offer authoritative quotes in rebuttal. Stating that my sources are ‘biased’ without offering direct support for that statement is meaningless. The German cites would be a nice start.

            Personally all their works on the war and in particular, Italy’s role in it (Knox, Mack Smith, Liddel Hart, Levine, J. R. Thackrah, and a whole battalion of such oxbridge historians and other popular historical (fiction)) writers should be collected and changed into something more useful for society, like recycled toilet paper but with their words still legible!

            Ignorant blanket statements such as this are worthless. If you truly feel this way about these authors, I started a thread on sources. Go at and make your case. I am preparing a thread on Cloutier, so you will have a opportunity to defend your source.

  2. petergarforth@btinternet.com says:

    I think the answer is actually that the Greco Italian war was a stalemate…..and the average Greek who knows anything about it would say “the Italians didn’t beat us the Germans did”. Obviously it’s not accurate but although the Italians may have been on the rise when the Germans invaded, it was still the Germans who made the (relatively easy thanks to the Italians) miles and got to Athens first. As to when or if the Italians would have conquered the country on their own…..impossible to judge now because it never happened. I think given another 6 months they would have triumphed but then again Mussolini may well have sent troops from the Greek front to wherever his fancy took him at the time

    • There are some points to consider. In Stockings and Hancock (2013) ‘Swastika over the Acropolis: reinterpreting the Nazi invasion ‘, they – like others claim that the Greek Army only had enough artillery shells to last a month, and other supplies were drying up. Without artillery shells, it is hard to imagine the Greeks continuing for six months.

      The whole strategy of Papagos was to keep fighting until they could link up with the Yugoslavs and push the Italians out of Albania into the sea. But that was not to be.

      But to claim they defeated the Italians is an absurd claim. They may have stalemated the Italians, but defeated them? It would be like the Allies claiming they had defeated the Germans in the First World War while still fighting them in the trenches in 1916.

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