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1943: Italy's surrender announced

AUDIO : Italy surrenders and joins the war on Germany

Italy has signed an unconditional armistice with the Allies, General Dwight D Eisenhower has announced.

The surrender was signed five days ago in secret by a representative of Marshal Pietro Badoglio, Italy's prime minister since the downfall of Benito Mussolini in July.

General Eisenhower - the commander in chief of Allied forces in the Mediterranean - said the Italian Government had agreed to end all hostilities with the United Nations.

In a broadcast on Algiers radio at 1730 local time, he said: "All Italians who now act to help eject the German aggressor from Italian soil will have the assistance and support of the United Nations."


"The Italian garrison in Porto Valtravaglia deserted and the barracks were ransacked. I came home with boots and as much clothing as I could carry. "


Afterwards, in a personal message to the Italian people, Marshal Badoglio confirmed the surrender and even hinted his people should turn against their former allies, the Germans.

"The Italian forces will cease all acts of hostilities against the Anglo-American forces, wherever they may be. They will, however, oppose attacks of any other forces."

The Italian Government first suggested an armistice in August, three weeks after the fall of Mussolini during a meeting on neutral territory - probably Portugal.

When the surrender was finally signed on 3 September in Sicily, it was agreed to keep it secret until the Allied invasion of Italy was well under way.

German radio has broadcast a furious attack of Marshal Badoglio for asking for an armistice, calling it "open treason".

Marshal Badoglio and the Italian King Victor Emmanuel had insisted to the Germans that there had been no surrender, but now the truth was out.

"With this," said the German broadcaster, "a veil has been torn from a treacherous intrigue which for weeks had been enacted by an Italian clique, serfs to Jews and alien to their own people."

The surrender indicates the Axis and the Tripartite Pact is now in tatters.

But US President Franklin D Roosevelt has said it is too early to assume this is the end of war in the Mediterranean.

In a broadcast from Washington he said: "The great news you have heard from General Eisenhower does not give you licence to settle back in your rocking chair and say 'Well, that does it. We've got 'em on the run. Now we start celebrating.' The time has not yet come for celebration."

In Context
Italy, under Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, had allied itself with Adolf Hitler from 1936 and joined World War II in June 1940.

But military defeats in the Balkans and North Africa severely dented confidence in Mussolini as a leader and he was ousted in July 1943 by a group of senior military and politicians with King's approval.

His successor, Marshal Badoglio, had resigned as chief of the Supreme General Staff after opposing the invasion of Greece in October 1940.

After negotiating the armistice with the Allies he left Rome just before it was occupied by the Germans and set up Italy's new government, first in Brindisi and then Salerno.

On 12 September, four days after the surrender was announced, German special forces rescued Mussolini from detention in the Abruzzi mountains and set him up as leader of a puppet state in northern Italy.

The Germans reacted so swiftly when Italy surrendered that the Allies were able to gain little advantage from their surprise invasion of the mainland.

Germans disarmed Italian troops and they were treated harshly if they fought against their former allies.


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