Friday, September 21, 2012
Marshal of Italy Pietro Badoglio, 1st Duke of Addis Abeba and 1st Marquess of Sabotino
His plan approved, Badoglio was promoted to colonel while the engineers worked at digging the extensive tunnels as near as possible to the Austrian lines. In April of 1916, with Colonel Badoglio then serving as Chief of Staff of the Sixth Army Corps, the attack was made and was a stunning success with Monte Sabotino being taken by the Italians with only minimal losses. Because of this, by August he had been promoted to major general and he was later made Vice-Chief of Staff, widely believed to be because of the favor of General Luigi Capello who, like Badoglio, was a member of the Freemasons. By that time, Italian forces had suffered their worst defeat of the war at the Battle of Caporetto. The role that Badoglio played in this disaster is still a matter of some controversy, however, there is hardly any dispute that the commission charged with looking into the defeat after the war, to determine how such a thing could have happened, laid no small amount of blame at the feet of Badoglio. However, by the time the report was done, Mussolini was in charge and did not want any bad press for a top commander in the army and so mention of Badoglio was removed before the report was released.
From 1928 to 1934 Badoglio served as Governor of Libya, taking harsh measures when necessary but requiring additional help to finally end rebellion in the colony. His greatest moment of triumph, but later more controversy, came when he was given command of the primary front in the war against Ethiopia. Mussolini had, at first, wanted the war to be a “Fascist war” with the bulk of the troops coming from his Black shirt militia and his senior Black shirt general, Emilio De Bono, in overall command. However, when De Bono proved too cautious and slow for Mussolini, he was promoted off the front line and Marshal Badoglio was called in to replace him. The Italian forces launched a renewed and more vigorous offensive which in 1936 culminated in the capture of the Ethiopian capital. Marshal Badoglio made a triumphant entry into the city and was quickly named the first Viceroy of Italian East Africa. Later, however, accusations of cruelty were made against the Marshal over the use of chemical weapons (poison gas) against the Ethiopians, in violation of the Geneva Convention. Blame for this is usually reserved for Mussolini but, according to some documents, Badoglio ordered the use of poison gas even before Mussolini himself had authorized it.
Marshal Badoglio remained quiet for a time until things began to go badly for Italy and many, even in the upper ranks of the Fascist Party, began to talk about the need to get rid of Mussolini and extricate Italy from a losing war. Badoglio began to involve himself in these talks and did not always show a great deal of loyalty, once boasting that at any given time he could overthrow Mussolini and even the monarchy if he so desired. In 1943 a majority of the leaders on the Fascist Grand Council decided that Mussolini had to go and the King was able to move against the doomed dictator. It retrospect, it is easy to wonder why Badoglio ended up being the man to replace the Duce when he was so disliked by the Fascist hierarchy and somewhat distrusted at court. The simple answer is that there seemed to be no better possible options. Badoglio had the reputation to command the army while not being tainted by recent setbacks. As a Piedmontese officer, royalists expected him to be loyal and he had distanced himself enough from the Fascists that the Allies could be expected to deal with him.
The whole affair was badly handled and ended with the King and Badoglio being forced to leave Rome which was thereafter occupied by the Germans while the Allies fought their way up the Italian peninsula. In 1944 the increased opposition finally forced Badoglio to step aside in favor of a more leftist government. Some, particularly the Ethiopians, wished to see him tried for war crimes but by shifting to the Allied side Badoglio had ensured that he would be saved such a fate. He died on November 1, 1956 in Grazzano Badoglio at the age of 85.