Ruling the Mezzogiorno. The Allied Occupation in Southern Italy (1943-45)
In winter 1943 the United Stated and Britain planned the invasion of Axis-held Europe and decided to invade Sicily. A Military Government (Amgot) – which would be a model for the future Allied administration in ￼￼Europe – was set in order to administrate the occupied territories. While the Allied propaganda presented the invasion of Italy as a «liberation» from the Axis yoke, when in summer 1943 the Allied troops landed in Sicily, Italy was actually treated as a fully-fledged enemy country. When the Amgot became operative, the contradictory role of the Allies in the occupation emerged clearly. The aim of this article is to examine the complex aspects of this military occupation in Sicily and Southern Italy, gradually occupied by the Allies in 1943-44. Indeed, the Civil Affairs, the armed forces’ section in charge of organizing the military occupation, had to deal with complex problems such as the political and societal reconstruction. The work examines, mostly by analyzing Allied archival sources, the issue of the Amgot institutional organization. Within this framework, it is particularly investigated the civilian involvement in the occupation as well as the big gap between the rhetoric of the good war and the actual war events. While seeking to answer these crucial questions, this contribution will also discuss the way Southern Italy faced the difficult transition from Fascism to Republic during the Second World War.
Keywords: Amgot; Mezzogiorno; Second World War; Allies