Italian Chief of Staff Situation Reports in February 1943

New Italian Chief of Staff General Vittorio Ambrosio who was appointed on January 1943 (replaced somewhat incompatent General Cavallero) made two situation reports in 17 February and 21 February 1943 in which both he and Italian military and diplomatic establishment saw what was coming in store for Axis in 1943. It is striking that upper echalons of Italian military had more foresight than Germans :

Abrosio’s first study of war situation is summarised in two minutes he relayed to Mussolini on 17th February :

Germans must shorten their front in East and and organise their lines during spring thaw. Defensive operations in this year on East would be more rewarding than offensive for lack of adequate forces. Nothing was to be gained by conquest of space. The occupation of Caucaus and industrial zones of Russia was problematical and not decisive. The Russians have established their industries amd oil wells well beyond Urals. If Grmans rest on defensive , this is the advantage to Mediterranean Front.

In Mediterranean too , the initiative of operations can not be wrestled from enemy. Tunisia should be held as long as possible. If Tunisia goes , the enemy will attempt landings coast of Europe. This can not happen before May or June so we have therefore two to three months for a build up in Tunisia.

The Germans must act during this period , decide to grant Italian requests to put the defence of the their coasts and those of Greece in order and faciliate as soon as possible the disengagement of Italian divisions in Croatia , permitting their retreat to a line in coast , enabling them to hold key points there. Those troops in Balkan peninsula then must be set up as a stratregic reserve. Mobile forces should be sent to Greece to give extra flexibility and also watch approaches to Salonika.

Finally Italian Air Forces in Mediterranean should be adequetely built up to resist enemy action and number of Axis submarines in Mediterranean should be increased. Above all at this moment Germans should realise that they should give up fighting a war of its own and to understand for its own salvation it is equally important to stand fast at Dniepr river as in Sicily or in Pelaponesse. In conclusion Germans must change thir operational objectives and must come to our aid otherwise we shall not be obliged to follow them in their erronous conduct of war.

Hitler and Mussolini , A Brutal Friendship by W. Deakin

Is last sentence a threat by Italian military to Mussolini that German-Italian partnership is about to break up ?


Only if Cadorna was alive, he would be appointed. Truly the best Chief of Staff in history.


In the second memorandum to Duce on 21 February 1942 , General Ambrosio eleborated his persıonal assessment in more detail :

There is no sign of blunting Russian effort. The Germans had to fight bitterly to contain enemy offensives. German Army is making a major effort to reconstitute its forces. This will enable her to dominate the situtation in East during spring but the troops she will be enabled to put into field in summer are “her last reserve” They must be used economically not just to face Russian attacks but sooner or later Anglo-American Second Front.

There are no strategic objectives in East. If Germans attempt a reconquest of the industrial regions of Donm and oil area of Caucaus they will only be back in same position as in October 1942. Such a struggle would use up their last resources. They would not have any effectives to continue to fight in 1944. Comitted as she is to current offensive in East , Germany for lack of reserves , can not meet an attack simulteniously by Anglo-Americans in full force , which will develop at the same time yet a point unknown on European coastline , without seriosly compromising Eastern Front.

The coasts which are most threatened are , Italian and Balkan peninsulas ans shores of Provence (Southern France). As a firstr priorty one should look an enemy landing on coast of Southern France , an attack which would be supported by another one coodinated landing on Northern coast of France. This operationm should be considered seperately from conquest of Tunisia and will develop independently from operations in Africa. It might however involve conquest of Corsica and Sardinia. It is therefore dangerous to consider to withdraw troops beyond a certain limit from France which although provided an effective coastal defence in Northern France , is not equally protected in South.

The threat to Italian and Balkan shores is further away in time because without conquest of Tunis , the enemy will not be in a position to operate in a grand style.The essential point here , is therefore to hold Tunis and Bizerta as long as possible. The Italian High Command will make every effort but this is the moment to consider the position in rhe event of the loss of Tunisia. Should this happen , our islands in Mediterranean , Italian peninsula and Balkan shores are directly threatened…"

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