What if Italy remained neutral but still friendly to Germany & Hitler?
Imagining Italy never joined the war directly and remained neutral but yet severed as a close friend of Hitler’s Nazi Germany in a way that it was morally impossible to attack Italy. How much could this “what if scenario” affected the possible alternative history of World War 2.
What If Italy was Neutral?
Such a scenario could have had benefits and disadvantages to both sides. Before trying to rewrite the History of World War 2, let’s try to understand the possible advantages/disadvantages such a “what if Scenario” could have brought about.
Although Italy played a bit minor on Axis’s early success when compared to that of Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler, it did played indirect role in Axis success earlier on. But on the other side it played the most crucial roles in the eventual Defeats against Soviet Union and failures of Hitler’s Germany.
Neutrality of Italy in World War 2 could have brought considerable advantages and disadvantages to both Allies and Germany in the war.
For Germans the positive effects of this alternative History would be far greater than negative parts.
Advantages for Germans from Neutral Italy:
- No waste of men, money and equipments in Africa and against most Balkan countries expect The bold Greeks, for they were somewhat, pro-British at time and so Germans would be forced to attack them for fear of them joining allies or atleast provide Britain with base against Germany. In theory Operation Barbarossa would have become very complicated as the Allies would be on both sides of the battle, a scenario Germans would have wanted to prevent by capturing Greece.
- Neutrality of Italy in ww2 means, Campaign against the Soviet Union could started much earlier because of time saved from Balkan and Greece on behalf of Benito Mussolini.
- Another advantage would have been chances of successfully importing important resources like Oil through Italy on cheaper prices (assuming this because they were still allied to Nazis and had ideological unity) which would have been greatly advantageous for Germans and considerably influenced a possible alternative history.
- If neutral Italy had allowed German U-boats to rearm and refuel at their ports and bases in Mediterranean it could have proved disastrous to Allies especially to the British.
- Since Italy was much more close in terms or relations and proximity to Nazis, they could have even provided permissions for Germans to install Industries to aid German war efforts or produced German war materials in exchange for German Technology (not unlike what the Americans did prior to their entry into war “Destroyers for bases”) This could have made the war easier on German side while leaving the allies confused whether to bomb Neutral Italian Industries or not?. This could have resulted in an entirely positive alternative history of World War 2 for Hitler.
- Finally if Italy stays neutral, Germans will (atleast initially) be left alone in Europe and this could have even made the German High Command to act cautiously which could have prevented several disasters and even made Hitler to leave the war more and more to his generals. Both of which could have had considerable influence in the war on whole.
Disadvantages of Italy’s Neutrality:
- The greatest (direct) disadvantage for Germans should be the Italian Armed forces that fought along in different sectors (although it never played such crucial role because of their poor performance in General).
- Germans would have been haunted throughout the war by the possible betrayal of Italians as the German high command could have been worried about a scenario were Italians let the allies use their country as route to enter Germany.
- Germans could have missed some key learning chances in North Africa both in fighting experience of new units and technical lessons that resulted in new innovations. (very minor though)
- Allies could have gained upper hand in the Mediterranean earlier on if not for the fear of Italian surface ships. (on the other had British would have proceed carefully fearing Italy’s neutral stance could change later.