Set Europe Ablaze! Lo Special Operations Executive e l'Italia 1940-1943

Translated title of the contribution: [Autom. eng. transl.] Set Europe Ablaze! Lo Special Operations Executive e l'Italia 1940-1943

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Abstract

The Special Operations Executive (S.O.E.) was an agency created by the British during World War II after the French collapse and the Italian entry into the war. Established by Churchill in July 1940, its task was to direct the anti-Nazi and anti-Fascist re- sistance movement and the subversive operations in the part of Europe occupied by the Axis powers. It therefore carried out this task also in Italy, ope- rating at two distinct but interconnected levels: on the military field, by a network of agents capable of organizing subversion and sabotage, and on the political one, so as to hasten the fall of Fascism. The difficulties met by the British in penetrating and operating in Italy — together with their fiasco in the recruitment of agents amongst the P.O.W. and the Italian “enemy aliens” — explain the poor outcomes of the S.O.E. operative approach. Even poorer, however, proved to be result of their “poli- tical” effort. With the scope of favouring a soft exit of Italy from the war, the S.O.E. contacted such anti-Fascist exiles as Emilio Lussu and other members of the Partito d’Azione, exponents of the military opposition such as Badoglio, anti-Fascist industrialists such as Adriano Olivetti, but their relations with the opponents of the regime drew soon to a stalemate: at first owing to the absence of whate- ver political framing, then as a consequence of the “hard line” adopted by the War Cabinet, which implied the uttermost disregard of the more or less formal requests of negotiating peace coming from the Italian counterparts. What is more, the Foreign Office estimated too weak the Italian anti-Fascist alignment, unreliable the “institutional” opposi- tion to the regime and, finally, dangerous the pur- suit of initiatives that might arouse the least doubt over British loyalty toward the allies.
Translated title of the contribution[Autom. eng. transl.] Set Europe Ablaze! Lo Special Operations Executive e l'Italia 1940-1943
Original languageItalian
Pages (from-to)409-434
Number of pages26
JournalItalia Contemporanea
Volume252-253
Publication statusPublished - 2008

Keywords

  • Antifascismo
  • Opposizione militare
  • Seconda Guerra Mondiale
  • Special Operations Executive

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