On June 10, 1940, after withholding formal allegiance to either side in the battle between Germany and the Allies, Benito Mussolini, dictator of Italy, declares war on France and Great Britain.

Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler in Italy

Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler in Italy

Why the change of heart?  Could it be the occupation of France?

“First they were too cowardly to take part. Now they are in a hurry so that they can share in the spoils,”

—-Adolf Hitler

“Fascism did not believe in hitting a man when he is down.”

—-Benito Mussolini claimed that he wanted in before the complete French capitulation.

This wasn’t the only reason Mussolini waited.  Italy’s lack of raw materials had him wary. I guess Mussolini was vying to be King of the Prom because Britain and France were also wooing him with promises of territorial concessions in Africa in exchange for neutrality. His ego won out but in hindsight we all know it was the wrong decision but he could not resist the thought of his Axis partner single-handedly conquering the Continent. Germany wanted Italy to join them in September 1939 and now at this late date such intervention would probably prove more of a hindrance than a help. For example, despite Italy’s declaration of war on the 10th, it wasn’t until the 20th that Italian troops were mobilized in France, in the southwest-and easily held at bay by French forces.

It didn’t take the Allies long to react to Italy’s actions.  In London, all Italians who had lived in Britain less than 20 years and who were between the ages of 16 and 70 were immediately interned.

British internments of Italians on the Isle of Man

British internments of Italians on the Isle of Man

In America, President Roosevelt broadcast on radio the promise of support for Britain and France with “the material resources of this nation.”  This would be the Lend-Lease Program.



3 responses

  1. Thank you for another excellent piece of history


  2. Birgit says:

    Mussolini looks like such an idiot. It’s so strange that he had such power. We do hear about the Japanese being interred but one forgets that Germans and Italians were also interred. Excellent article