What if Italy joined France and the Allies

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by SpaceOrbisGaming, Jun 7, 2019.

  1. Michele Well-Known Member

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    For some values of "expect", yes, especially depending upon the PoD. If Italy has remained friendly with France since 1918, and even more so if there is no Fascist regime, it will hardly be a surprise for the Germans, and they will have built extensive mountain fortifications in addition to those of Austria. The Italian offensive isn't likely to do much headway.
    But that's not a big issue. In OTL 1940, it's not as if Germany could afford to even man defensively that border with, say, a dozen poorly armed infantry divisions. The fact alone that the Germans are fighting on two fronts (not counting the garrison units in Poland), will almost certainly mean trench warfare in France too, just like on the Alps.

    Then there is the possibility of a later PoD. The worst for Germany would be just before the signing of the Pact of Steel. Mussolini dies or whatever, Balbo, who never liked the Germans, gains power, and he is not even formally bound to side with Germany. In that case, yes, an invasion of Germany (which by 1938 stretched all the way down to the old Italian-Austrian border) will be unexpected.
     
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  2. LordKalvan Member

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    After WW1, the Alpine watershed between Austria and Italy is in Italian hands. The old Austrian fortifications too.
     
  3. Carl Schwamberger Well-Known Member

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    If the PoD is that far back, then perhaps Italy better supports France in the 1923 Ruhr occupation. France holds the line a bit firmer, & is encouraged to maintain a forward leaning policy. The Belgians are encouraged as well. So, no retrenchment into a defensive policy in 1928-29, no Maginot Line, & France works harder to build the 'Little Entente' When the nazis try the Rhineland occupation gamble in 1936 a Franco/Belgian 'Force de Intervention' punishes the German army & the nazi government is replaced by another centrist coalition.
     
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  4. Michele Well-Known Member

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    Right as to the watershed, but it's not as if there weren't difficult terrain in Austria after that. Also note you are talking about the old Austro-Hungarian fortifications; the Austrians built a few new ones after 1919.
     
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  5. James Ricker Own your mistakes

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    Defensive front is set up in the Italian Alps, the one the Italian Army was designed to fight. They would get beginning supplies from England and the United States. More importantly it would free up the Royal Navy for actions in the Indian ocean against the Imperial Japanese Navy.
    I still see bobarosa happening but with fewer troops and being slightly less successful.
    All troops that were used in the North Africa campaign would be in Italy holding off the Germans. I can see World War II ending in 1944.
     
  6. cerebus Aardvark

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    I think just removing the French need to garrison the Alps would free up enough forces to create the famous "Mass de Manouvre" and make the defence of northern France practicable. Add a German requirement to defend the Austrian/ Italian front and the allies are looking at the war they expected and planned to fight. In this case the only question is how long before German generals accept they can not win and purge or be purged takes place. In this case Germany would never attack Russia but would need Russian support just to continue to fight and Japan would not dream of attacking.
    Actually considering the weird things they did in OTL they might attack but without French indo-china Burma and Malaya are much better protected.
     
  7. Michele Well-Known Member

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    Well, I'd nitpick about calling a handful of additional leg-mobile infantry divisions an addition to the masse de manoeuvre. Apart from that detail, I'd agree with the end result.

    You mean the Soviet Union. That depends on who's actually in command in Berlin. If the French and Italian fronts are WW1.5, with trenches plus AT guns so thick that they can frustrate any Panzer breakthrough... who knows. Attacking the Soviet Union in 1941 while Britain was still in the fight also seems weird.
    Naturally, if Hitler has had a deadly accident, then the decision-making structure in Berlin changes.
     
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  8. catalfalque Wandering Historian

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    If Italy is an ally or associated with the Allies, then if they attack Greece it is not a new Axis front but a squabble with a non-aligned power, so there won't be either a Allied response to counter it, and a German charge through the Balkans to sort it out.
     
  9. Carl Schwamberger Well-Known Member

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    Theres a old joke that is supposed to have derived from pre 1914 French planning. 'If the Italians fight us we send ten divisions, If the Italians join us we send ten divisions. Either way we send ten divisions.'
     
  10. Michele Well-Known Member

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    Have you not considered the possibility that the regime of Metaxás, not exactly a shining beacon of democracy, sides with Germany?
    Now, given the rather worse situation of Germany in this scenario, and the likelihood Romania and Bulgaria, as well as obviously Yugoslavia, put down a firmer foot, I don't see a German ground charge to Greece. But at a time when OTL the Germans had much bigger fish to fry, they still sent (or tried to send) some Luftwaffe assets to Vichy Syria and on to Iraq.
    If the Greeks deal with the Italian invasion even half as successfully as they did in OTL, then the Germans might set up a Luftwaffe base in Salonika, overflying neutral states who will doubtlessly file diplomatic protests. And since in OTL they did send U-Boote to the Med... now they'd have a base in there in this ATL too.
     
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  11. Stardude82 Member

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    Mussolini falling over and dying before 1935 might be very interesting for the Anschluss if a clerical-facist regime took over in Italy. The Austrofacists in charge of Austria at the time were in conversation with Mussolini in continuing his support for their independence, but Mussolini needed Germany to support the war in Ethiopia.

    In 1935, an opposed invasion of Austria was far from a slam dunk. The Wehrmacht needed its romps through Austria and Bohemia to get the bugs out of its panzer doctrine.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2019 at 3:27 PM
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  12. The Undead Martyr GOP Delenda Est

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    As far as Italian relations with France go Versailles problem is that it was between two worlds, between the Wilsonian ideal and old realpolitik.
    Italy would need to choose and clearly articulate one or the other and give a much less atrocious performance on one or ideally both the battlefield and negotiating table. Opportunism is all well and good but appearances must be kept and ones own limitations understood...

    Siding with the more imperialistic French designs might have been a viable strategy for Italy, ie annexing outright the Rhineland or at the least saar on the same grounds (vae victis, geographic necessity) as the Iralian annexations in Istria and the tirol. Above all else remember machiavelli's dictate to treat men well or destroy them; harebrained schemes to invade Turkey or Greece for slices of land are bad not merely for the cost or moral reprehensibility but because they alienate potential allies for little gain. An early reconciliation with the bolsheviks is sadly not plausible given even Wilson proved incompatible, but allying Turkey early on to contain Greece (or Hungary and Austria or Bulgaria even Croatia to do the same vis a vis Serbia) would still be phemoninally better than the historical trainwreck.

    In that regards Mussolini was much like his predecessors in evincing both a striking lack of vision and fatal short sightedness, a tendency for dangerous idealism and therefore delusional misapprehension of reality. Dispensing with or otherwise averting the fascists is a necessity not merely on moral grounds; they are utterly bankrupt and horribly incompetent as well, failing to appreciate what set apart the truly mercenary machiavellian like Bismarck from naked thieves like Hitler. They mimick the form of state power but know not its function and so are weak.
     
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  13. Byzantion Well-Known Member

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    If war had broken out in 1938 over Czechoslovakia as Hitler intended ( and no coup takes place), Italy might have declared war in Germany with the others. Fighting would have taken place in the Austrian border.
     
  14. The Undead Martyr GOP Delenda Est

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    It would not have gone that far; absent Mussolinis approval the Anschluss of Austria would be unlikely to proceed.
     
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  15. Shevek23 Spherical Cow-poke

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    POD time frame is unspecified, so I offer 2 broad approaches to the OP.

    The more conservative one is also both deplorable IMHO and somewhat self-contradictory of the ultimate aim of Germany fighting Britain, France and Italy on one side, perhaps:

    France goes right wing in the Depression reaction. I hate the idea, and don't understand the dynamics of French internal politics nearly well enough to sketch out a path or talk about probabilities, but I gather the prospect of a right wing dictatorship in France, perhaps even one keeping many trappings of Third Republic liberal democracy, might be in the cards. It would require heavy repression of large blocs of the electorate and I think the resulting society would punch below its weight (that is, even worse than the debacle of the 3rd Republic OTL) in terms of industrial and military potential. Right wing authoritarian France could have either a smaller but reasonably professional army composed of long servers with demonstrated commitment to the broad values of the right wing ruling regime, or continue the universal manhood service obligation levee en masse philosophy to get a force maximum in size but with many conscripts of very dubious loyalty, depending on the nature of the conflict. Realistically such a France would do a mix of both I suppose--continue with universal service conscription, but enlarge the long-term professional core, and keep a close political eye on the conscripts, with the military police having a watch list of citizen-draftees of "questionable loyalty", to pounce on them punitively for any false move.

    Anyway a suitable form of French right wing ascendency that is not allowed to be destabilized by weak support for it across the entire mass of adult male citizens probably sees eye to eye with Mussolini across the board; the Ethiopia project for instance will only be disturbing from the point of view of balance of power, globally and in the east African region. Having come to terms with Fascist Italy pretty much on taking power some time between late 1929 and the very early '30s, Mussolini has little reason to prefer Germany to France.

    It is bad for the OP because Germany is now pretty well contained. To be sure the objective potential power of the OTL 3rd Republic was probably much greater due to being a more inclusive liberal society; any oomph Mussolini adds will be less than the right wing dominance sacrifices in various ways. But perhaps in terms Hitler did pay attention to, France reinforced by Italy will look stronger as he measures things, and Hitler might conceivably be deterred from essentially his whole program. Austria for instance would tend to be onboard with the ATL's Franco-Italian bloc--at any rate without democracy. Democratically, a lot of Austrians might have voted themselves into the Reich, and enthusiasm for being a junior partner in an alliance of two of their Entente foes in the Great War will be troublesome too.

    So--the general alignment as I see it on this track is that on paper, France is the heavyweight core of a right wing avalanche in Europe, the League of Nations is either dissolved or captive of this right wing Entente. On paper, it is a mighty hegemony. But Fascist Italy is actually the rock of stability versus internal discontents; the majority of French citizens range from lukewarm accommodation to repressed hostility for their own regime; Austria is torn by pan-Germanist Nazi tendencies--I figure a Czechoslovak crisis happens earlier and it is the Entente-Droit that turns on Czechoslovak liberal independence first, to build up a buffer containing the Reich in large part to shield Austria--rather than just incorporating dismembered Bohemia into an Empire, the multinational central Slavic republic is strongarmed into "regime change," being forced to accept a pro-Entente dictatorship under some puppet handpicked by joint French-Italian-Austrian agreement, which accepts "freely" the invasion of a rather small contingent of Entente-Droit "advisor-allies" ostensibly to shore up their defenses against the Reich, but also to guarantee the handpicked dictator stays in power in Prague. Similarly to the east, Italy has a free hand in Albania with French blessing and under some suspicious supervision of French and Austrian "allied" contingents, can bully Yugoslavia to her heart's content. To the east we have Hungary--a logical ally of the Entente-Droit in basic terms--reactionary, Catholic--but perhaps preferring for enemy of my neighbor is my friend reasons, alliance with Germany instead; Romania, which in this ATL has no liberal powers but Britain to ally with and will probably fall into Entente-Droit line, Bulgaria and Greece. To the north in the east are Poland, quite a good prospect for Entente-Droit membership, and the Baltic states, which probably will wind up falling more or less under Hitler's sway if their domestic elites have anything to say about it--if Hitler seems too weak to rely on, it's either persuade Sweden and Norway to team up to face up to Soviet and Nazi power, or apply for Entente-Droit protection. Someone in this hopscotch is likely to be on the outs so their neighbors can profit at their expense. The options of anyone who does not want to ally with Entente-Droit is to ally with Hitler, with the Soviet Union, or reach desperately for British protection where that has any prayer of effectiveness.

    The British I think would muddle through much as OTL--remaining liberal-democratic under Parliament, which would have little reason not to be dominated by the Tories as OTL. Being Tories, I believe the British will not be too tempted to be more reactionary domestically than OTL--considering the demoralizing effect of the Continent going right wing authoritarian, one might think that tips the balance in an illiberal direction in Britain too, but on the other hand the British Left is going to be feeling definitely backed into a corner. I suspect that Britain's balance of power is grossly and overall as OTL, but with more touchiness and tension as not only leftists but even moderate liberals worry about when the conservatives might go full on fascist, but get feisty about it at political rallies and so forth.

    With an overall Tory majority in Parliament and no realistic alternatives, Britain will in fact cooperate with the Entente-Droit. The notion of allying with the Nazis instead might seem less completely insane far fetched, in view of there being little difference between the German fascists and the various flavors of brownish right wing regimes opposed to Germany mainly along "Versailles" lines--France is motivated to keep Germany from becoming too powerful--albeit checked a bit relative to OTL by having fewer qualms about the character of Third Reich governance and an intensified hostility to the Soviet Union. But in fact, unless the Entente-Droit contemplates taking on Hitler as a full first rank power in that alliance and using German potentials to the fullest against the Soviets, Germany is more a subtraction than addition of ED power against the Red Menace, and it is likely ED members who border directly on the Soviet giant.

    I am not sure that out of this grim scenario, any division between the Third Reich and the rest of the right wing regimes of continental Europe even exists logically; the most likely thing is that they decide Hitler is not so bad, let him in, and he pretty much takes over, hamstrings those in France, Italy and weaker nations who would oppose him on nationalistic grounds, with the cooperation of local allies doubles down on the overall repression of people opposing him on deeper principles, and captures his maximum end of 1940 conquests of OTL without firing a shot.

    But the OP specifies an Alliance equivalent to the OTL pre Fall of France allies plus Italy ranged against Hitler. So we can almost as well suppose the French in particular, and other neighbors such as Poland and sockpuppeted Czechoslovakia, all are much too nervous about Hitler's irredentism and German supremacism to consider relaxing around him and jealously try to maintain Versailles restrictions, anti-Red Crusade be damned.

    The reason Hitler would not be utterly bonkers to contemplate fighting this massive, far flung alliance of apparently all of Europe against him is that actually, to exist I have to assume a pretty repressed domestic order in each case. And some members of Entente-Droit are queasy in a pro-Nazi, or anyway pro pan-German Reich, sort of way, such as Austria, and others like Hungary and various Balkan and Baltic states showed a propensity to ally with him OTL. France in particular is a pressure cooker, huge numbers of her citizens resentful of the pretensions and high handedness and bad decisions of the right wing leadership.

    I assume that while none of these right wing powers honor liberal norms of political freedom, all are somewhat squeamish, versus going full on Nazi, about excesses in repressing their discontented sectors. They can and will execute, or imprison, in jails or work camps, people who do actively do anything subversive and get caught at it, but they will not systematically take the plunge toward preemptive repression as a way of life the way the Nazis do. Some will do this, but it will not spread as a norm for the whole bloc. And neither France nor Italy will go quite totalitarian, Italy not more than OTL before the war anyway. Of course wartime hardships, and particularly mass mutiny or risings, might change this equation fast. For as long as the Entente Droit is in an apparently comfortable position though, its leadership takes some pride that they are not in fact Nazis and in certain steps they will not take (though specific allies might--but that is a bit deplorable!)

    So, there is the setup--an ATL where Hitler manages to seize power and start a military buildup of Germany, but is hemmed in a Franco-Italian led right wing bloc which Britain is loosely allied to as well. On paper the Reich appears to be in a hopeless position, but it will happen that when open war finally does break out, despite some major liabilities versus OTL, the German forces will have a solidity that it turns out key vital sectors of the Entente-Droit containment of the Reich lack; Hitler will exploit various fissioning tendencies and send shock waves through the ED, which will feed into some factions wanting to switch sides to join Hitler and others being demoralized and defeatist. We can balance that against rallying on nationalistic or other grounds, consider how the options of either side of the split of the right wing camps for Soviet alliance versus judging themselves strong enough to launch the anti-Soviet crusade at last might interact. While there will be dissidents, I assume that British policy remains considering the Reich the major potential continental hegemon to be contained, despite the paper supremacy of France, and therefore as long as any continental bloc stands against Hitler, the British will be on that side.

    What is this Spanish Civil War some speak of? It won't happen in this ATL--a right wing coup against the leftward drifting elements in the Spanish Republic, quite possibly involving a restoration of the Spanish monarchy, will be perceived historically not as a "Civil War" but as another rightward tide against the left, and however drawn or massive the recognized Spanish government's repressions are, no major power will be allowed to take the side of the leftists, who OTL were the Loyalists to the previous liberal constitutional government. Spain shall not be a laboratory of French and Soviet military tech against Italian and German--indeed the Soviets might manage to infiltrate some volunteers, but not the sorts of level of support they gave OTL. OTL the French government backed the Loyalists; here they will back the other side, and all resistance will come from Spanish peoples of various ethnic identities fighting in sheer desperation with no long term hope.

    I got a lot more elaborate in describing this right veering alternative which for me at any rate is a bloody nightmare, and did not yet get to the other shoe dropping of a quite different basis of a Franco-Italian alliance. Best I put that in another post then.
     
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  16. Michele Well-Known Member

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    Yes.

    For that matter, it needed those romps, and the years going by, in order to just have panzers. A war in 1935 would have featured Pz Is, not exactly juggernauts.
     
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  17. Cryhavoc101 Well-Known Member

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    One consideration is that with out the RN suffering the 'Verdun of the Mediterranean' and the heavy fighting around North Africa, West Africa etc does Japan see the British Empire as distracted 'enough' and make their move on PH, Malaya, DEI and 'climb mount Niitaka' ?

    Hell do they even Risk moving into FIC

    This might 'butterfly' the entire Pacific war!
     
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  18. andys Well-Known Member

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    Perhaps the best that could be hoped for is Italy remains neutral. That means a much reduced Med/North African theatre so probably no 8th Army.

    Possibly the only ground combat outside of Europe for the UK is the invasion of Vichy Syria and an earlier Operation Torch, maybe done by just UK/Free French forces, assuming they can gather enough shipping for Torch? No Afrika Korps means an easier Torch. Although Torch without US forces means greener US forces in Normandy, that can't be good. A neutral Italy also gives more resources that the UK can deploy elsewhere. Montgomery and 7th Armoured at Singapore? On the other hand, absent North Africa, the Brits then have no major ground combat theatre until the Japanese kick off in '41, so the expanded army has less combat experience come D-Day.

    Does no Italian invasion of Greece mean that Bulgaria remains neutral? Does Greece join the Allies, with UK ground forces in country and may be Bomber Command paying visits to Ploesti from Greek airfields from '41 onwards? Churchill is going to be full-on "soft underbelly of Europe"?!

    Maybe there's a slightly earlier Operation Dragoon to open the Second Front? Perhaps a few months before D-Day to draw German forces away from the north, making the breakout from Normandy a bit easier? Rommel and the (not-)Afrika Korps in Russia would be interesting, with no Italian forces on the Russian Front - and no Italians in Russia puts German resources under more pressure as well.
     
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  19. thaddeus Well-Known Member

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    Yugoslavia was the primary target of Italy (Mussolini), under this scenario, Ethiopia and Spanish Civil War have likely been settled by some machinations or not occurred? still think something happens with Yugoslavia and that would not be bloodless?

    Germany allies with Hungary and rump state of Yugoslavia (Serbia)? they could reach Greece by land then?
     
  20. Ian_W Well-Known Member

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    With Italy being part of the Entente, Greece simply isn't important.

    Nope, Germany does something desperate, and goes for a Sickle-Cut through the Low Countries in an attempt to knock out France.

    It works.

    In June 1940, London and Rome are stuck with 'What do we do next, with Paris in German hands ?'.