August 14, 2015

1943. Soviets Celebrate the Fall of Italy

Italy Ripped From the Axis
Benito Mussolini in 1943 (source)
(For more, see the complete 1943 Moscow reports.)
Bill Downs

CBS Moscow

September 9, 1943

First Soviet reaction to the sensational capitulation of Italy is printed this morning in Pravda saying "the big victories of the Red Army and the victories of the Anglo-American troops have created all prerequisites for the dealing of a mortal blow on Hitlerian Germany and the achievement of a quick victory."

Pravda emphasizes that the fact new Red Army victories coincides with the fall of Italy has been no accident. It says that neither Mussolini nor Badoglio could get help from Hitler when the British and American troops threatened Italy's mainland because the German forces were tied up on the Soviet German front. "The Red Army victories in its summer offensive compelled Hitler definitely to leave his Italian ally to its own fate."

Pravda also points out that, last summer and winter, the Red Army drew blood from some of the best of Mussolini's Fascist divisions: ". . . about 200,000 selected Italian troops never returned from the Soviet Union."

Then the newspaper makes this significant statement: "Italy is now out of action as an ally of Hitlerian Germany. Thus a telling blow has been dealt to the Hitlerian coalition. There can be no doubt but that the unconditional capitulation of Italy will make the strongest impression on those allies and accomplices of Hitler in Europe who still participate in his plundering coalition."

Pravda continues: "The fate of Italy is for these other vassals a warning example. They also, in a different minute, will be thrown to their fate . . . The fact that Italy is out of action has reinforced the international isolation of Hitlerian Germany, violently worsening her military and strategic position."
The events coincided with the Red Army's capture of Stalino (Donetsk) and surrounding cities on September 8, 1943. US Ambassador to the Soviet Union William H. Standley issued a statement in response to Bill Downs' request for comment:
"We Americans here in Moscow got a great thrill tonight as we watched the rockets announcing the splendid Soviet victory of Stalino—particularly when we realized that this celebration coincided with the announcement of the armistice in Italy, It must be a source of great gratification to free men everywhere to know that the forces fighting for freedom and liberty are gaining successes from every direction and that these efforts are going forward with increasing momentum. I know that I speak for you my fellow countrymen when I extend my congratulations to the Red army for their great victory in the Don Basin. I know that I speak for the Russian people in extending congratulations to the men of the Allied forces whose sacrifices and skill have resulted in the complete surrender of Italy. A victory for one of the United Nations is a victory for all the United Nations."