The Operation Avalanche, the Allied landing in continental Italy since the 9th September 1943, represents an historical starting point. On September 2023 a ceremony will celebrate the 80th anniversary of this crucial moment, the beginning of the Allies’ assault on “Fortress Europe” and the liberation of the Continent, which opended the way to the establishment of modern democracies.
This operation was the greatest in the Mediterranean area, comparable, in terms of soldiers and resources involved, with the landing in Normandy.
The Allied came back to the Continent, while they liberated the South of Italy with simultaneous operations – Campania (Avalanche) Puglia (Slapstick) Calabria (Baytown) – tragic events spread all over the rest of Italy, occupied by the Nazis troops. Relevance of this operation is not evaluable only on the basis of a military strategy because the political effects were very impressive:
- 8th September, a few hours before the landing, despite Badoglio’s request to wait, Roosevelt had announced the armistice with the Italian government, in order to avoid resistance of the Italian army. The Italian soldiers Odissey started, attacked by Germans, killed or imprisoned (around 700.000, not considered POWS, were transferred in Germany)
- 9th September while the Operation Avalanche set South of Italy free, the armistice consequence was the beginning of the Nazi occupation of North and Center Italy
- 14th September, the liberation of first concentration camp in Italy in Ferramonti (Cosenza) with around 3000 prisoners, Jews, Greeks and opponents; during the Avalanche days there was the liberation of another camp, in Campagna (Salerno)
- 23th September, the Repubblica Sociale Italiana was established by Mussolini in the German occupied part of Italy. The Italian civil war began.
- 28th September, the military victories were supported by a large part of the European population that refused to surrender to the regimes and their violations of fundamental freedoms, challenging them through resistance, in Naples partisans started to fight Germans before the coming of the Allies.
- 16th October, in the occupied parts of Italy the Germans began raids against Jewish communities with arrests such as in the Jewish Ghetto of Rome. Up until that event, the Italian government had not allowed this kind of operations.
- 1944, in the following year the first Italian government of liberated Italy, with all democratic forces united, was established in Salerno. The year 1944 was marked by the approval of the first election with universal suffrage, without any gender distinction.