Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Sorairo, Feb 20, 2019.
Me too, and I hope we see more stuff like this.
Jabotinsky and many revisionist zionists were influenced by the liberal nationalism behind the Italian Risorgimento, but they still committed liberal democrats. It's a bit inaccurate to say they work with Mussolini.
Speaking of the Revionist Zionists, the idea of an independent Israel being Fascist sounds interesting.
This was a big one. I hope it isn't too much. If it ever gets to the point I'm getting long-winded or boring please tell me so I can fix it.
Memoirs of a Young Girl (1988), by Anne Frank
I’d volunteered to help the newcomers, but there was just too many of them. There were as many Jews coming in as were already in Libya – it wasn’t easy to try and provide for us, let alone the next set of arrivals. These ones were different though, almost all women and young children. When our group of Jews arrived in Libya, many of us kissed the ground, happy to be alive and out of Hitler’s grasp. The Hungarians that came did anything but. They were so worried about their fathers, sons and brothers who had stayed behind to fight at Trieste that they couldn’t be happy for any reason. I remember one twelve-year-old girl who was crying because she had always fought with her older brother and realised that she might never see him again to say she loved him. Many children were totally unescorted, without anyone else from their family coming along to Libya. It was no time for singing ‘Hatikvah’ or makeshift Bar Mitzvahs, as had been the way of us initial Libyan arrivals. Now, we were just as concerned with the fate of the Jews of Trieste as the very families themselves.
The news of the victory at Trieste was the greatest victory in the history of Judaism, outmatching anything found in the Torah. In terms of numbers, odds and the purity of goodness and evil, nothing in the Biblical campaign to reach the Promised Land even comes close. Gentiles looked at us differently from then on; we looked at ourselves differently from then on. We had been used to seeing ourselves as victims, whose destiny was out of their hands. It was as if we were cursed.
After Trieste though, a new spirit rose through the Jewish people all across the world. From Brooklyn to Golders Green to Tel Aviv, Jews around the world knew that we were stronger than we ever thought. We had beaten back one of the strongest divisions in the whole of Germany, after the Germans started a war against one of the strongest countries on earth just to kill. All of a sudden, the ancient dream of forming our own state on the lands of our ancestors didn’t seem so impossible after all. Actually, it looked pretty tame.
It was a special time, with every tent and house full of song and celebration. The Italians even joined in, seeing as they had helped us after all. I remember the songs going long into the night, total strangers kissing and embracing, the alcohol drank by the crate. My parents were in such a good mood that they even let me have some. I started drinking and soon started laughing. But soon later, I walked outside and started crying. No, I wasn’t sad or afraid, I was just a little embarrassed because I was so happy. Because for the first time in my life, I was so happy to have been born a Jew.
Ben-Gurion was standing right in the centre of the camp on a podium. There was no safety-glass or anything of the sort back then because no one was going to hurt let alone challenge a man we respected so much. We’d all learned more about Zionism in the years since the war started, but here was the man who represented the Jews of Palestine. He spoke in Hebrew, but not all of us were good enough at it, including me.
We all had little camp segments with their own translators piping over the sound system – it was a miracle we’d set something like that up in a place as godforsaken as we were near the desert. The Yiddish had the biggest, but there were plenty for the German speakers, French speakers and so on. I stuck to my relatively tiny Dutch section, slightly embarrassed to be speaking what seemed so unimportant a language compared to everyone else.
He said that Trieste would be remembered ‘until the sands of time gave out’, and that he had been given permission by the Italian government to form a new fighting force under the command of the British army (which still ran Palestine at the time). It would, however, be ran by Jews for the interest of Jews. When he let out a call for how many of us would respond to ‘the call of Zion’, nearly a quarter of a million people let out their voices so loud I wondered if Hitler heard it in Berlin. I joined in the call too, even though the offer only stood open to men at the time, as per instruction by the British. I remember being quite annoyed when I found out, as if I couldn’t help my family or people unless I grabbed a rifle and started smashing Germany with my own two hands. At the same time, I remember being so deeply infatuated by Ben-Gurion that right then and there I knew he was my leader – it was no wonder which party I wound up joining in Israel.
So I stayed in Libya for the rest of the war, which now had a lot more women in it than men since everyone was desperate to fight alongside ‘the warriors of Trieste’. Yet there were plenty of Trieste warriors right beside me – women who risked it all and learned to tell the tale. It was a good time. What were once endless rows of makeshift and damp tents in the middle of a desert had become rows of one Kibbutz after another. The Italians were astonished at how we’d been able to irrigate and cultivate so much land they assumed was absolutely worthless. We thought it was the least we could do, given what they had done for us. While the Jews didn’t stay in Libya for long, not that there aren’t plenty of us there now, we made it possible for so many Italians to go there by building the infrastructure needed for them to support so many people. That isn’t to mention, of course, the engineers who Mussolini saved in 1942 who discovered how much oil there was located in Libya the very next year. Having been Prime Minister, I can assure you that it’s somewhat comforting to know your country is sitting on some oil.
When I returned to Libya in 1980, I remember seeing some of the old sites and buildings. But it was the old faces I most cherished. Guards who had been kind to us, locals who had settled us in, even some of the holdout Jews who decided that Libya would be their home for good. In some ways, no matter the hardships we faced in the desert, they were some of the best days of my life. And besides, Moses had to wander the desert for forty years and he still never got there, right? We barely needed four!
Unconquerable: The Story of the Jews of Hungary, by Mel Goldberg
The Jews of Hungary were in no shape to keep marching after they survived one of the most talked about battles in human history. The death rate was atrocious – the wounded rate was even higher, but their spirits were unquenchable. One Italian officer reported, “The spirit of the Jews is indescribable. Men laugh and say they’ve only realised they haven’t slept in three days. Others walk on broken legs while others casually give their food to locals after not having eaten for a week. There is no force between Heaven or Hell that can scare these people.” The only thing that could convince them to not advance further was the request to evacuate the younger children (those under 16 who had stayed) and remaining women. Thus, the Jews didn’t immediately advance from their positions, though they were assured they would see combat again.
News of such military prowess had not just impressed the Italian observers, but the whole world. American, British and Roman Alliance reporters interviewed every fighter they could to paint the incredible picture (the Soviets did not send anyone, but the news got around easily enough and excited the Jewish population). As George Orwell observed, “the Battle of Trieste will be a rallying cry for the oppressed for centuries to come. That the most hated, abused people on the Earth could one day decide that they could stand up and not only fight, but win shall send a shiver of excitement down the spines of the world’s underclass.”
More immediately, Jewish soldiers in the Allies suddenly started demanding to be moved to this new Jewish brigade. Reasons ranged from ‘they need all the help they can get’, ‘they need a rest’ to ‘God really rubbed a lot of luck onto those guys’. The largest contingent, naturally, was in the Jewish mandate in Palestine (the community known as the Yishuv), which had been demanding to fight the Nazis one on one, not just the Arab allies Germany casually supported. They were doubly infuriated that Jews could not flee to the Mandate during the Holocaust. By now, the necessity of reaching out to the Jewish Agency, led by David Ben-Gurion, as well as Mussolini was unavoidable. After back-channel chat, on January 17th, Churchill announced that he and Ben-Gurion would meet with Mussolini and Salazar in Lisbon at the end of the month to flesh out what would become of the nascent Hungarian Jewish forces. Ben-Gurion would quickly arrive in Tripoli to a hero’s reception to illustrate his bargaining-hand to the Italian and British leaders – his word meant something to the Libyan Jews, and he wasn’t going to give them a bad deal.
Of course, there would be another arrival at the Lisbon Conference.
Four’s Company: The Great Power relations in World War Two, by Steven Benford
On January 31st, Churchill arrived in Lisbon. Roosevelt hadn’t been told until Churchill had publicly announced it. This helps illustrate how the pair’s working relationship had fallen since D-Day, which Churchill would always regard as a mistake and suspected Stalin’s influence over Roosevelt. Some historians suspect Churchill saw flashbacks of Gallipoli in the slaughter British troops faced on the Normandy beaches.
At Churchill’s side was Anthony Eden and, coming in from the far East, Orde Wingate. He had been ordered to Lisbon specifically for the mission he was about to be entrusted with. Wingate had served in the Palestinian Mandate. As a committed Christian, he felt a religious mission to support the Jewish people and aided the Haganah, the Jewish paramilitary group, in their asymmetric warfare. Wingate was ‘an eccentric’ if you liked him and ‘stark raving mad’ if you didn’t. While the British had grown increasingly weary of his antics (which included drinking water from a flower vase in a Cairo hotel and getting dysentery) he had won the hearts of the Zionists back in Palestine with his cooperation and conviction. His ‘Chindit’ program had debatable results when used in the Burma Front, but he was mainly used to help bridge the divide between the British and Jewish leaders. Many Jews wanted to serve under the Italians, seeing them as their saviors. Wingate was considered to be the only British general well liked enough by Jews to have them on their side. With this plan, Churchill landed in Lisbon, meeting Salazar and Mussolini the next day on February 1st.
Mussolini had prepared for an avalanche of criticism over Greece and Serbia, for which he had prepared a long list of reasons to justify himself. Instead, both he and Ciano were shocked by what was coming out of the mouths of the British representatives: Stalin had to be stopped and FDR wasn’t going to do it. The War would be over soon, and they needed to ensure Communism was contained. For that reason, the Roman Alliance had to take over Romania and Hungary before the Soviets did. While Churchill re-iterated that the British government would not recognise any of the Roman Alliance’s territorial gains from Yugoslavia and Greece, he seemed ambivalent about Italy stationing troops in Romania and Hungary ‘assuming free elections have been held’. The next conference of Allied leaders would be at held in April in Kiev, which had recently been liberated. Churchill asked Mussolini for support in standing up to Stalin ‘because I don’t always get it’. From here on, Churchill and Mussolini began a complicated balancing act, making sure neither got ensnared in the other’s net whilst hoping they could work together to outwit the common Soviet foe. Neither trusted the other, but they both knew one thing for sure: the other hated Stalin as much as they did.
On the matter of the Jewish forces, Mussolini was somewhat relieved to have the pressure taken off him in finding supplies. Between Ben-Gurion and Wingate, the two had proposed a new understanding: The Haganah would become ‘The Anglo-Jewish Army’, a surprisingly accurate title given the numbers of Hungarian Jews that existed. It would be led by Wingate but the mid-ranking roles would be staffed primarily with Haganah regulars like Zvi Brenner and Moshe Dayan. It would have to reform, losing its women, boy and elderly fighters to the safe shores of Libya. However, the influx of Jewish recruits from Libya (unless they were considered too economically important), Italian Jews who had lived there all their lives and indeed Palestinian Jews who were raring to have a piece of the Nazis more than made up the numbers. After a month of rest, the Jewish army would be on the march again, back to Budapest.
After other minor agreements, such as the use of the newest Regia Marina ships to help the British in the Pacific against Japan, everyone left the meeting in a good mood. “I’d forgotten what a decent meeting felt like,” laughed Churchill as he boarded the plane. He would report to the nation about plans for the Anglo-Jewish army to wild acclaim.
Mussolini would quietly return to Rome. As soon as he arrived in his office, the phone began to ring.
Total: Fascist Terror in Italy by Sven Dietrich
Mussolini had received a message from Graziani. Whilst Balbo and the Haganah had been performing PR in Trieste, the bulk of the Italian forces were actually pushing the invaders back into Ljubljana. The city was mostly, but not entirely surrounded, and mostly occupied by Slovenian Pro-Nazi forces, rather than German soldiers. German soldiers were already pulling back to the Alps to stake out a suitable defence, leaving the Slovenian collaborators to fight for themselves.
Ljubljana’s population had numbered some one hundred thousand, though the prior battle had already reduced the population count. With total air superiority, a numerically superior force and one that was well supplied with Western aid, there is no doubt the Italian army alone could have easily taken control of the city. But that wasn’t the intention of the Fascists – they wanted to make an example of anyone who defied Italian rule or occupation.
Graziani informed Mussolini that all preparation was complete. Mussolini then told his general, “Good, I want you to settle the question of who runs Slovenia … permanently.”
On February 6th, Italian bombers departed from their airfields and began to congregate in mass over Ljubljana’s historic city centre was the main target of the bombing, pulverizing centuries old art and architecture. After hours of plane bombing, the artillery began to obliterate the residential areas. The targets, by the on-the-record account of soldiers at the time, had absolutely nothing to do with German or even Slovenian military targets.
Mussolini had decided that after having done what they did in Ljubljana just weeks ago, launching a pogrom against the Italian population, the whole city deserved collective punishment. Soldiers were instructed to ‘avenge the rape of our people’ by ‘tearing this viper’s nest to the ground and start from zero’. He wanted not to destroy Ljubljana, but to remove it from the map entirely, replacing it with ‘Lubiana’ a pure, Italian town.
By February 8th,the Blackshirts were sent in. Mussolini had stated that he only wanted Blackshirts to perform the operation, convinced they were the only ones with enough resolve finish the job. The Blackshirts encountered little resistance, as the city had been pulverised with the Germans retreating and Slovenians fleeing. Satchel charges were set to the few remaining buildings still standing in the city centre. Rape was especially common by the Blackshirts, as was summary executions of almost anyone who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
On February 9th, Graziani wrote to Mussolini that, ‘Ljubljana is dead, long live Lubiana’. They had done what Hitler had only dreamed of doing in St. Petersburg or Moscow: they had succeeded in destroying the great city of a people and starting it from the ground up. While Warsaw was lucky enough to be rebuilt painstakingly according to detail, Ljubljana received no such relief. It was given an entirely different geographic layout with Italian citizens and exclusively Italian street-signs. If you came to Ljubljana in the 1950s, you would never have imagined it was anything other than a quiet Italian town. However, it was built upon the grave of the Slovenian people. The only things that were rebuilt as before were the Catholic churches, after the Pope complained.
With the loss of their capital, spirit and a significant proportion of their population, the Slovenian people were shattered. Post-war restrictions on Slovenian culture, which made the ones prior to entry into World War 2 seem lenient, were brutal. Teachers would be imprisoned for speaking a word of Slovenian to their students, even if the students didn’t understand what they were saying in Italian and needed clarification. Conditions were so unforgiving in their occupied homeland that many wound up running away to the Italian colonies for a more hands-off existence. By 1958, what was once Slovenia was by now majority Italian, with the colonial diaspora too fragmented to keep their culture alive to any significant degree. At the same time, you would never see a sign in Slovenian in any store, lest the Blackshirts come and smash the place up for being ‘Nazi sympathizers’.
Under every definition of the word, the Fascists committed genocide against the Slovenian people. And it was ignored by every nation on Earth.
Interview of Italo Balbo for the BBC’s ‘World At War’ (1973)
Interviewer: “It’s estimated that some twenty thousand civilians died in the destruction of Lubiana. That corresponds to roughly one fifth of the city. It’s also estimated that by the end of the bombing, some 90% of buildings had been destroyed. Most of the rest would be destroyed after the fighting. What do you have to say to that?”
Balbo: “Well, firstly I had nothing to do with it. That was all Graziani.”
Interviewer: “And Mussolini.”
Balbo: “Graziani was the one who decided where the bombing would take place. The Duce had no ability to determine where the bombs fell. Graziani, again, made some mistakes but you have to understand what he did in context of the War. The city had been occupied by the Nazis – if there was a way of reducing the amount of our troops who would perish -”
Interviewer: “With all due respect Mister Balbo, that doesn’t explain why the Blackshirts proceeded to set satchel charges on any standing structure left in the city. It also doesn’t explain why the air force didn’t pursue the retreating Germans but continued bombing the city centre.”
Balbo: (*More angrily*) “The citizens knew the risk when they decided to stay in an active warzone. There were plenty of warnings.”
Interviewer: “Mister Balbo, there were no such warnings. For example, the American nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Kokura produced many pamphlets demanding the citizens flee. No such preparation was made with the residents of Lubiana.”
Balbo: “The warning was how we had dealt with insurgencies across the colonies. We had taught the Ethiopians a lesson when they tried to assassinate Graziani and failed. Now, the Slovenians had massacred every Italian they could find in the city. Did they really expect us to hand out flowers and talk about forgiveness? We responded in the only way we knew how.”
Interviewer: “Some have called it ‘genocide’.”
Balbo: “I don’t care what someone calls it. From that day forth, Slovenian terrorism was defeated. There is no major Slovenian terrorist network, be it in Slovenia, the Libyan diaspora, or even the colonial diaspora. All around the world, we see these conflicts with terrorists trying to take on great powers: in France with Corsica and their Algerian holdouts, in Britain with Northern Ireland and Kurdistan with their Arab towns and regions. There is no terrorist movement in Italy proper, including Libya – and we’re proud of it.”
Interviewer: “There is, wouldn’t you say, in East Africa?”
Balbo: “I was careful with my words. Italy proper.”
Thought the Ethiopians a lesson, my ass! What are the Ethiopian Patriots doing?
Nice update, nonetheless.
Much less evil than the nazis still only equates to being ultra vindictive and repaying a small pogrom with a genocide. Pragmatic, hardline and thorough malice rather than setting exterminating a people as one's ultimate sacred goal.
Oh well, at least in this timeline, people will not worry about confusing Slovenia and Slovakia all the time.
On the topic of East Africa, I am suprised the Italians held onto it even in the seventies - decolonization would at this point be at full swing and their occupation of Ethiopia would be a running sore both in terms of Italy's relations with the democratic nations and in terms of resources needed to try and fight the rebels versus any potential resources extracted from there.
I can see Italy holding onto Eritrea by then and maybe even Somalia but the bulk of Ethiopia? Not at all.
The war has been very different from OTL and a lot less expensive for the Western Allies in general, so the various european powers will have a lot more resources to keep colonies, at least some very important for them; plus Italy is one of the big guys and head of the Roman Alliance and this mean having much more clout than, for example, OTL Portugal during the colonial wars of the 70's
Could Italy successfully crush the Ethiopian insurgency ITTL? I have my severe doubts.
Ask the Senussi or the Dervish; Benny and co. method were both very brutal and very efficient, sure times changes and what allowed before was no more allowed now, still Italy is at least a great power so she get a lot more of effective wide breath than minor nation. Maybe Italy can't totaly crush an ethiopian insurgency, but not only the ethiopians will pay a lot in blood for their liberation war, without some serious external help their effort will be more or less a little scaled up version of the Irish Troubles...sure very bloody but incapable of evicting the italians.
The only hope for them to 'win' is to cost to the italian enough men and money to make the endevour more troubles than is worth, but even that will need years as this mean for the PFI leadership to admit failure
Italian Carnation Revolution?
Possible, still the OTL Portughese had a lot of success in fight the rebels with a full weapons embargo and less resources available to Italy.
I can actually see Italy Holding onto their Colonies and eventually absorbing them through sheer ruthlessness. In a Tri-Polar world that would actually be feasible.
They would probably need to start a one Child Program similar to China to keep local population under control though(make it easier to re-educate the Children as well) and try to have as many Propaganda/social programs as possible to boost Italian Birth rates. Italian Ruthlessness, allies, and time will do the rest.
Basically Ljubljana (Lubiana) becomes the Warsaw of this TL?
After seeing Mussolini as a second messiah this is a reminder of the kid of man he was.
Lubiana was decisively a massacre TTL without doubt. I agree it was ethnic cleansing genocide for how it went. It is indeed a step low than the nazi because it was limited - in terms of effective deaths and abuses - over a city. But it wasn't a total genocide because the large majority of native Slovenians (overall) after all lived, and not all the population of Lubiana was killed. While not having saving graces aside the fact "they killed harmless Italians, so we would vindicate them", the fascists could still say, it wasn't genocide because otherwise we could have retaliated over all over Slovenia. But the aftermath results could be considered as a cultural genocide. The worse for the Slovenians TTL, was their apparent inability to preserve in hiding their roots, or safeguarding them in other regions. Is a bleak stain for Italy, sure. Contested TTL, definitely.
About Ethiopia, that mention of Balbo over Algeria means the French held still in the area as well... Sign that African decolonization was much slower and resisted by several European countries. So it seems that Italy felt justified to stay in Ethiopia not less than France in Algeria.
Ljubljana wasn't treated kindly even OTL, so good research on your side.
I can see Italy holding onto Ethiopia, but in the end it's not possible to just italianize the region like Lybia.
Somalia I think should be less focused on settling, except for Tourism and as the only spaceport of the Empire, since Kysmayu, exactly on the equator, provides for one of the best launch sites in the world.
Big uodates loke that are nice, keep em up.
Just to confirm. Jewish Libya is in fascist bloc right?
Also when will Italy pursue nuclear technology?
What is the role of the king at this time?
^This and the fact that the Soviets and U.S. will be considerably less strong at the peace table in this TL, both of these powers were the primary pushers for decolonization.
In this TL the Soviets will probably only get Poland and even if the go for more Japanese and Chinese land than OTL they will still be considerably weaker and less influential in Africa as a whole.
The American's on the other hand have lost the British trust and as a result Churchill has made friends with Mussolini and shut them out of most Colonial/European issues so they to will be less influential.
In OTL one of the major reason for decolonization was that the Europeans were afraid of wasting resources with their homeland's ravaged and soviet invasion looming.
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