Thursday, June 9, 2016
In 1773, with the passing of his father, the Duke of Savoy became King Vittorio Amadeo III of Piedmont-Sardinia on February 20. From day one the administration of his country and the military were his top priorities but that does not mean that he neglected other areas. Because of his conservative and religious nature he has often been accused of being reactionary to the point of being averse to change of any kind, but this is not so. In fact, he was very keen on improving a number of things that needed it. Beneficial change was never a problem for him but change for the sake of change alone, naturally would not be tolerated. For all of the emphasis he placed on the army, he was also certainly not a warmonger and aimed at ensuring the security of his country by peaceful, diplomatic means first and foremost. His marriage to a member of the Spanish Royal Family was part of this, to secure a marriage alliance with Spain after the two powers had been enemies in the War of Austrian Succession (the Savoy having backed the Hapsburg side).
Overall, he carried on with the changes first set in motion by his grandfather which were aimed at making the aristocracy less corrupt and more socially-minded (a common problem of the time) and encouraging greater social mobility for the common people so that they could lift themselves out of poverty by their own talents. In terms of the army though, he did spend a great deal, carrying on the effort to renovate the Piedmontese military along the lines of that of the Kingdom of Prussia which was the example that all small, resource-poor states naturally wished to follow. Given the events of his reign, some have dismissed this as a failure but that requires taking a very narrow view. In fact, the military “culture” of the country was changed and even as late as World War II, a German general serving in Italy remarked on how similar Piedmont was to Prussia in the emphasis placed on the army and in the many years in between not a few foreign observers would refer to Piedmont as ‘the Prussia of Italy’. The King is also remembered as the founder of the Gold Medal of Military Valor, the highest Italian combat decoration which is still awarded to this day. He also followed this example himself at home by adopted a more Spartan lifestyle so that the British historian Gibbon, on traveling through the area, wrote about how the Savoy royals lived “with decent and splendid economy”.
The French republicans were quick to attack Piedmont, vowing to make northern Italy a satellite republic, but the Savoyard troops, along with a contingent of Austrians, fought fiercely and succeeded in repelling the initial invasion. The French met a similar fate on other fronts and when they tried to enlist the United States to come in on their side, the American government flatly refused and considered the alliance made with the late King Louis XVI to have died with him. Royalist counter-revolutionaries were also rising up and achieving successes. However, the French responded by ordering the conscription of every adult male in the country and soon they had turned the war situation around, swamping their enemies with what was often simply a huge, armed and radicalized mob.
In the wake of this fiasco, King Vittorio Amadeo III was a broken man and his health and spirits only worsened from that point on. Within a year he had an apoplexy and finally died on October 16, 1796 at Moncalieri. A reign that had began with such promise and which had seen many beneficial reforms, had been reduced to ruin in the final years by the horror and bloodshed that were the fruits of the French Revolution. However, the House of Savoy was down but not out and the next three kings to succeed him would all be sons of Vittorio Amadeo III and they would ultimately see the French defeated, the Savoy flag raised again over Turin and the monarchy restored completely along with some additional lands. The French revolutionaries had won the first round but the sons of Vittorio Amadeo III would be the ones returning home in triumph while Allied armies marched down the boulevards of Paris. Whereas his enemies would be remembered for "the Terror" and wars of conquest, Vittorio Amadeo III would be remembered as a beloved figure, perhaps a little too trusting at times, but a kind man of good character who was generous to a fault.
Saturday, June 4, 2016
|Rommel and Graziani in World War I|
|Graziani, the "Pacifyer of Libia"|
|Rommel as a young officer|
|Graziani in the Ethiopian capital|
|Rommel in the invasion of France|
|Graziani poster art|
|Graziani and Rommel in Africa at happier times|
|Rommel decorated by Bastico with the Colonial Star|
|Graziani having some pasta in Libia|
|Rommel & General Ramcke|
|Rommel in France|
|Mussolini and Graziani|
|Graziani and Rommel at the front|
Monday, May 30, 2016
|Paolo Ignazio Thaon di Revel|
I swear to my honor
To serve with fidelity and discipline the Fascist idea of society - based on religion, the Fatherland, and the family, and to respect the authority of the League and of the hierarchy and tradition of our race.
To love, serve, obey and exalt the United States of America and to render obedience and respect to its constitution and its laws.
To keep alive the cult with Italy as the Fatherland and eternal light of civilization and greatness.
To combat with all my might theories and ideas tending to subvert, corrupt, and disgrace religion, the Fatherland, or the family.
To do my best to improve my culture, my physique and my morals, to render me fit for the part I am to play in serving the nation in its hour of greatness.
To submit to the discipline of the hierarchy of the Fascist League of North America.
|Dr. Salvatore Caridi of the Italian War Veterans|
|Italian-American Black shirts|
|Salvatore Caridi and Fritz Kuhn|
|Italian-American Black shirt girls|
|Italians (in the Black shirts and white trousers) at a Bundist camp|
|Italian-American Fascists at Camp Siegfried (FBI photo)|
Friday, May 27, 2016
|Rashid Ali al-Gaylani|
|11 October 1942, the Grand Mufti gives Arab volunteers|
for Italy their unit flag
Friday, May 20, 2016
Today, all too often, Italy is portrayed in a negative light as never being genuinely committed to the Triple Alliance but this is extremely unfair as it implies that Germany and Austria were. In fact, the Germans never supported Italy in any subsequent colonial venture and the Austrians continued to plan for an attack on their "ally" Italy right up to the outbreak of World War I. In other words, every country continued to look out for their own interests and not those of their allies, which is nothing unique or unusual. In such a situation, it is extremely hypocritical to criticize Italy for doing the same. One should also keep in mind that the details of the agreement was, in fact, violated prior to the First World War and the Kingdom of Italy was NOT the guilty party.
One of the most significant points of the agreement, widely ignored today, was the stipulation that if there was to be any change to the status quo in the Balkans, Austria would consult with Italy before taking action and that if Austria gained any territory in the Balkans, Italy was to be compensated with Austrian territory that was historically and demographically Italian. Austria never honored these promises, never consulting Italy at all about efforts made in the Balkans and refusing to discuss any territorial concessions to Italy after the Austrian annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Add to this the fact that, in 1914, the Chief of Staff of the Austrian army was a man who had advocated launching an unprovoked invasion of Italy, their ally, and the slain heir to the throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, had never made much of an effort to hide his strident bigotry toward all Italians. To a lesser degree, German Kaiser Wilhelm II had not impressed many people with his insulting antics towards the King of Italy during a state visit to Rome (he purposely brought his tallest soldiers so as to make the short Italian monarch seem tiny in comparison -a petty and juvenile antic).
It should, therefore, be no great surprise that when war came, Italians were not rushing to arms to fight alongside Germany and Austria. It is also worth repeating that the Triple Alliance was always a defensive alliance and, while there were certainly circumstances involved, when the fighting actually began it was with the Germans and Austrians being the ones on offensive rather than the defensive. The Triple Alliance, it is true, was not a successful pact as it did not prevent war and did not endure beyond the Austro-German ethnic core (the Hungarians were not in favor of war in 1914 either). However, to portray Italy as the false partner, to portray Italy as the one who treacherously betrayed "faithful" allies, is preposterous and totally untrue.
Monday, May 9, 2016
For one thing, the King rightly felt that his own abdication was unjustified in so far as it implied his being responsible for the entire Fascist era, which was how the issue was usually framed. It was only after the Liberals failed to come together to put forward an alternative and only after numerous offers to other political figures had been rejected that the King had invited Mussolini to form a government; a government which was originally a coalition government in which the Fascists were a minority. The public, unpopular as it later became to say so, had been supportive of Mussolini for most of his tenure and it had, after all, been the King who had taken action to finally have the Duce removed from power and took the first steps to getting Italy out of the war. The King was also very much alarmed at how many dangerous elements, including communists fresh from Russia, were already being taken in to the Badoglio administration. He did not hold out much hope for his son being given a fair chance in light of all of this and that the ultimate result would be the end of the monarchy and a republic that would be ruinous for everyone but the communists. It is worth pointing out that events would ultimately prove the King entirely correct in all of these predictions.