What if Italy went communist after World War 2?

riggerrob

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What if the northern, industrialized part of Italy remained under communist control after World War 2?
What if Italian trade unionists developed a unique, ITALIAN form of communism?
... more like Yugoslavia?
... with few Moscow trained communists?
 

alertken

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My daughter studied in Bologna, then a local soviet; I did some Defence work in Turin, where it was explained to me that the PCI was far more I than C.

We forget that Stalin, then successors did pull out of places, from Bornholm to N.Iran - sometimes they had to be prised out, but they did understand the cost of colonialism. Would Moscow want the cost of running Italy? It is ungovernable, as we know.

Can I ask a supplementary: would a Referendum have been held to decide whether to join NATO, 4/49? What might the answer have been?
 

Lc89

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Italy is culturally Marxist, even though it has never been a communist.
 
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Archibald

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France would barricade the Alps. Although the french communists would dream of that. All kind of ripple effects over Corsica Algeria Mai 68 and beyond.
Italian Mig-23s ? MiG-25s ? this would help the ACF and 4000 cases...
 

Dilandu

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But the strategic consequences would be... significant. USSR would essentially get a stronghold right in the middle of Mediterranean. Spanish and even North African bases of NATO would be within bomber (later missile) range, and any kind of NATO naval operation in Eastern Med would be extremely hard; support of Turkey nearly impossible. With missile-carrying bombers and land-based coastal missiles in Italy, essentially the whole area became the Soviet Navy operating bastion. Also, the possibility of attack on Southern France became quite a reality, both overland and amphibious operation.

It seems that in this scenario, USSR would put a lot of efforts into creating the Mediterranean fleet in mid-1950s. And France and Britain would be forced to invest much more in their navies, trying to hold the Western Med.
 

zen

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The lure is strong, but a monstrous trap lurks beneath such strategic bait. Italy could become something worse than Vietnam, and Afghanistan.
As western money backs resistance, terrorism, insurgents, civil war.

Italy returns to it's divided past. France backs X and Y.
US cash fuels others.
Ex-Fascists
Mafia etc....
the Pope throw religion into the mix.

How does Soviet supplies sustain Italian Communists?
Only by Tito's consent........and through that route is it enough?
 

Lc89

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Enzo Ferrari would have been killed and Ferrari would have been nationalized. No victories in Formula 1 or Les Mans. A similar sort would have been the Alfa Romeo.
 

DWG

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What if the northern, industrialized part of Italy remained under communist control after World War 2?
What if Italian trade unionists developed a unique, ITALIAN form of communism?
The basic answer is they did, recording up to 34.4% of the vote in the mid 70s with over 220 seats in parliament, and over 25% into the mid-late 80s. They openly criticized Brezhnev and repeatedly refused to toe the Party line. In 1989 they transformed themselves into the Democratic Party of the Left, which is now the core of the Democratic Parties of the Left, and were part of the Prodi government in 94.
 

lordroel

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What if the northern, industrialized part of Italy remained under communist control after World War 2?
What if Italian trade unionists developed a unique, ITALIAN form of communism?
... more like Yugoslavia?
... with few Moscow trained communists?
Would the South remain a monarchy and we end up like a European version of the Koreans.
 

Archibald

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"Keeping up with the Kims" (Cardacciones ?)

It is one of these weirdness from our times... the Kims of North Korea, and the Kim Kardashian (and coeur de chienne: heart of a female dog, pretty appropriate when you think about it)
 

Lc89

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There would certainly have been a great exodus of refugees to central and northern Europe, and perhaps to the Iberian peninsula. Spain with Franco would have already entered NATO. Switzerland would always remain neutral, but it would seal its border with Italy.
 

riggerrob

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Dear dilandu and zen,
Please remember that the OP specified a distinctly Italian version of communism that keeps the USSR at arm's length ... similar to Tito's Yugoslavia. Tito blocks overland trade between Italy and the USSR. In this scenario, few Italian citizens want to see significant numbers of Soviets/Russian communists on Italian soil.
 

airman

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It's difficult for me thinking an Italian Communism near Moscow : probably a nightmare after an other nightmare . So could be plausible a prime minister Togliatti with not align policy .
 

Wyvern

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Being from the Med, and from one of Italy's closest neighbours, I hope to bring an important point of view, tomorrow, once I've compiled enough points to write about. There are many points, such a drastic change would obviously bring about drastic differences.
 

Wyvern

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Right, this post is going to get very long, very quickly, so I do ask for you to have patience while reading through this. I am from the Mediterranean, as previously mentioned, and therefore understand what the consequences of a communist Italy would be. Anyways, it's best I get started.

If Italy became a communist nation after the Second World War, the entire fabric of European and Mediterranean history would be completely different. For starters, it all depends on Italy was communist as a whole, or or whether there was to be a North-South divide. It also depends on whether or not there was influence from Moscow, or whether they were in a situation like Yugoslavia.

If Italy remained whole, there is the probability that many engineers would have been transferred to the USSR temporarily, and possibly put under the guidance of Roberto Bartini, similarly to what happened with German engineers who were taken in by the Soviets under OKB-1. Once these designers returned to their homeland, they would probably undertake the design and modifications of Soviet types such as the MiG-15, before moving on to license producing more advanced aircraft and even making their own designs. Designs like the G.91 would not exist, and any local Italian designs would be heavily influenced by Soviet designs. If Italy remained neutral, like Yugoslavia, there is the possibility that Western equipment could have been sourced, and local production of equipment designed locally would have been essential. Good relations with Yugoslavia would be of paramount importance, as they would be their only communist neighbour. A communist Italy would need to have a strong navy, and there is the possibility that some Italian ships taken over by the Soviets would be handed back to the Italians. Their shipbuilding industry would remain quite independent, as well as their armament industry, but they would be influenced by Soviet, rather than Western advancements. Ships would probably be designed in a more Soviet style, and fast missile attack boats would have definitely been built. Helicopters would be built in Soviet style as well. Ground forces would probably rely on local designs for tanks and guns, though they would be influenced by Soviet innovations. I say this because Italy is somewhat unique in the way they have to design their armoured vehicles, due to their unique terrain and geography.

In terms of foreign policy, it would be rather bleak. As pointed out by Archibald, France would barricade the Alps, both from the air, and on the ground, and the immediate threat of a communist neighbour would have inevitably given the answer to questions which ended up having long-winded answers (ACF, Mirage 4000, etc.). The Italians would have probably supported conflicts and crises against France, especially in Algeria, and would have tried their utmost to support the Greek Communists in their Civil War and try prop up communist regimes on Cyprus. Apart from that, the Italians would have done all they could to turn Austria communist, or at least, away from NATO influence. To counter both of these Britain and West Germany (for each of the cases respectively) would have done everything within their power to counter this. The US would have also done the same. British defence policy would be radically different, and more bases in the Med would be kept, but that will be discussed separately. Francoist Spain would probably join NATO on, or immediately after, its inception.

If Italy were to be split between the North and South, communist and monarchist/republican, respectively, the points mentioned above would remain mostly the same, but policies and foreign relations would be radically different. The North would be supported by all of communist Europe, regardless of differences. The same would be said about the South, but it would be supported by the West. The North would contain most of the industry, leaving the south without much to go around. Therefore, the South's industry would be built up on funds provided by the West under the Marshall Plan. This would by of massive importance so as to counter the superior industry of the North. Both sides' militaries would be built up quickly, similarly to West and East Germany. Each side would receive the best equipment their respective sides would have to offer. The North would be heavily isolated, and would be heavily reliant on Yugoslavia.

That's all I can think of right now, I'll make some more posts soon. If I have anything to add, I will edit this post.
 

Wyvern

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Had Italy been communist, the entire fabric of the Mediterranean would have been changed forever. The history of all nations would be completely, however, none more so than Malta.

The period between 1945 and 1964 was full of turmoil after the Second World War. Malta was rebuilding, after having sustained three years of incessant bombing, the island was in ruins. As Malta rebuilt, the 1947 Constitution was put into place, as many islanders began leaving for foreign lands like Australia, Canada, the United States and Britain. The Assembly that had been suspended in the years before the War was re-established, thus allowing the local political parties to start up once again.

In 1955, then Prime Minister Dom Mintoff, who was pro-British at the time, advocated for the unification of Malta with the United Kingdom. He knew that Malta was essential to the British, and that Malta's economic situation could be improved by joining the UK and bringing the government and standards of living up to British standards. A referendum was held, and 77% of those who voted were in favour of the annexation of Malta into the UK. However, the Opposition, let by George Borg Olivier boycotted the vote, and since the turnout was only 60%, they stated that the election did not represent what the people truly wanted, and thus, stated that the vote was invalid. Apart from this, there were some disagreements between Mintoff and the British Government, mainly in regards to spending allowances. The situation between 1955 and 1957 changed rapidly. The Suez Crisis began the reduction of British forces and bases. Malta was beginning to look like it was unnecessary; if there were no bases East of Suez, there was no need for a stopover in the centre of the Mediterranean. The 1957 Defence White Paper led to the reduction of ships in the Royal Navy, which was catastrophic for Malta, as Malta's primary source of economic income was from its use as a Naval Base. Malta under British rule was a fortress economy, which meant that in times of conflict or tension, the economy would boom, which would be followed by a massive bust immediately after.

The factors all lead to Mintoff's resignation in 1958, and the post as Prime Minister was abolished until 1962, when George Borg Olivier of the Nationalist Party won the election, and began the calls for independence, which was achieved on the 21st of September, 1964. A panic amongst British forces occurred in 1973, when the lease on the bases expired, and many troops began pulling out. A flyby was held at RAF Luqa, as well as parades at various other locations. However, the lease was extended, and these troops were soon ordered back to Malta. British forces remained on the island until the 31st of March, 1979, by which point Mintoff had been re-elected and serving as Prime Minister for eight years. Somewhat ironic is the fact that Mintoff was by now anti-British, even though he had wanted integration with them not long before, and had been blackmailing them into staying for his entire time as Prime Minister; he knew most of his voting base would be left jobless with the departure of the British (most of his staunch supporters were at the Dockyard and in the Three Cities, who were almost completely reliant on the presence of the Royal Navy.)

If Italy was communist, things would have been completely different. Malta may have been accepted as part of the Union, and may have remained so throughout the 20th Century. The fact there would be a threat immediately north of the islands, would mean that Malta, like in the Second World War, would have been isolated, and would be reliant on the British to defend the Islands. With the memories of the harsh days of the Second World War still burnt into the memories of many, a threat from Communist Italy would have galvanised support for the integration. A Communist Italy would have also undermined the Nationalist Party, who had pro-Italian leanings prior to the War, and had already been undermined by the Fascists. Many members of the Nationalist Party were still of the old pre-War stock, and still preferred Italian. If they were willing to shake off their more conservative leanings (highly unlikely, but bare with me), this would have reversed the balance of politics. Generally, the Labour Party has always been more left-leaning, whereas the Nationalist Party is more conservative. If the Nationalists embraced a Communist Italy, then there is the possibility that the balance of Maltese politics would be reversed. Again, this is highly unlikely, but still possible. This part is almost borderline impossible, as most of the Nationalists were of more conservative stock, some of whom actively engaged in pro-Italian clubs and meetings, before they were shut down by the authorities

If Malta was granted Independence, British forces would have certainly stayed here, the risks of leaving a Communist Italy's southern flank unguarded would be too great. There would have been a larger number of troops, ships, and aircraft here. I would foresee the Malta Submarine Flotilla being kept from disbandment, and even more ships being based out of the Island. I would also assume that at least one aircraft carrier would be permanently based out of the island as well. The RAF would have invested more fighters, and based more squadrons of bombers, probably Canberras of the Bomber and PR variants, with the possibility of V-Bombers. The RAF would have also had to invest more in ASW and transport aircraft, the former to defend the waters around the Islands, the latter to supply the Islands. In regards to ASW aircraft, there is the possibility of investment in this area being taken more seriously, meaning that either more Nimrods would be procured, or even a more suitable type like the HS.800 being bought. With transport aircraft, these would be used as an "aerial convoy" to keep the islands supplied. A number of paratroopers would have probably been based here, and the funding of a rapid deployment brigade wouldn't have been out of the question, with funding for air-droppable light tanks being made more available. British Defence spending would have been increased for sure. As time wore on, the possibility of Phantoms, and eventually, Tornadoes being based out of Malta makes sense. Tornado GR.1s would be used as strike aircraft, while F.3s would be used to patrol vast swathes of the Mediterranean. The idea of a Nimrod Replacement may have been given more thought due to the increased submarine threat, and the Nimrod MRA.4 may not have been produced, instead, a new type would have been procured.

Hopefully this gives some food for thought.

Regards,

Wyvern
 

Wyvern

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Another thing to note is that Malta would remain slightly more Westernised. The departure of the British left a vacuum, which was only partially filled. Mintoff began dealing with Libya, Romania, the USSR, China and North Korea.

Regarding aircraft, it is highly likely that the Lightning would serve on in Malta for longer periods of time than it would have elsewhere, as the short distances would make it ideal in case of any intrusion.

Also, here's a short video that explains the attempted Unification with the UK
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6q3S7a4V7p0&ab_channel=HistoryMatters
 

Justo Miranda

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The Mafia would have understood the Politburo better than the Kennedys, since both organizations descended from the Roman senate, possibly they would have reached an agreement beneficial to both parties.
 

Wyvern

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I can also only imagine how the Brigate Rosse would have operated. If Italy was dived between south and north, such leftist terrorist groups would have operated in the south, wreaking havoc, and probably being funded by the government of the communist north. I can only imagine that the southern government would reciprocate the "favour" by inserting right-wing equivalents in the north.

In summary, if this were to be the case, it would be a bloodbath.
 

archipeppe

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The case of whole Italy under Communist's heel is out of question.
Allied would never give up the strategic Southern Italy.
So the most likely scenario is not Yugoslavia rather than the two Koreas.

North Italy Democratic Republic (what an HORRIBLE thinking) and South Kingdom of Italy wiht Umberto II king after his father Vittorio Emanuele III resignation.

In such scenario U.K. would have an easy leverage to prevent any republic referendum, not counting that the Communist Party would be immediately set outlaw after North separation.
 

riggerrob

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In 1938, Bartini was arrested by the NKVD on charges of being an "enemy of the people" and a spy for Fascist Italy. He was extrajudicially convicted by a troika, receiving a 10-year imprisonment sentence.

With luck, Robert Bartini would return to Italy and resume designing pretty airplanes. Hopefully some of his apprentices would study in Russia long enough to pick up Russian attitudes towards building helicopters. The resultant Italian communist helicopters would be big and rugged and easy to maintain. Their large diameter rotors would be far better suited to flying in the Alps than WALLIED helicopters. The resulting helicopters would hover much higher in the Dolomite Mountains, allowing Italy to resume its feud over its Northern Border with Austria.

The next question is whether the Italian Air Force would adopt Soviet attitudes towards designing fighter jets. Would they build a variety of different classes of dedicated ground-attack, interceptor, etc. Could Italy afford to buy multiple types of combat jets?
 
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Justo Miranda

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Communism was born at the same time as tanks and cannot exist without them, it also needs a centralized state and economy that generates shortages of everything to keep the population in check. None of this can work in Italy, geography is not favorable to the use of tanks that would not be very useful in cities, generating the indifference and cynicism of the citizens. The nature of the Italian state is very fragile and this based on consensus, an external force would only achieve its fragmentation into dozens of republics that would dispute among themselves who is more communist, also different philosophical interpretations of communism would arise that would make the ideologue Suslov cry. It would be very difficult to create shortages in a country with hundreds of kilometres of catacombs where millions of bottles of wine are kept and where pigs are trained to stay hidden when tax collectors arrive, from Vespasian times. The Italians taught the Germans to military parade, the Batavi to build dams, the Gauls to make wine, the Iberi to make oil and the Britons to build bridges over the Thames. They also taught the Rus the word Tsar (Caesar).:)
 

archipeppe

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Furthemore Naples was the first and maybe the only town to free herself by Nazis, whe ln the 4 days happened, in September 1943, Aliied forces were still stuck in Salerno, 60 km away from Naples.
An harsh lesson to an eventual Communist invasor...
 

Archibald

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Hmmm....Malta as a SAM base....

Another thought....how does Algeria go in this scenario?

OTL the Armée de l'air send some limited fighter cover (Vampire / Mistrals + Vautours for night and bad weather) there if only to intercept light / transport aircraft trying to smuggle weapons across the borders (must have been: Tunisia, Marocco and... I have no idea what countries have a frontier in the south)

ITTL more recent combat aircraft may be send or a carrier in the Med' to ensure no weapon smuggling happens from Italy... although Lybia and Tunisia are much closer than Algeria, TBH.

Depends from Sardinia fate, really. If it is communist, then that's pretty bad ! Also for Corsica... dear God.
 

zen

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Another thought or two....
Italy goes Communist.

How does Austria and Switzerland react?

Oerlikon missiles might be driven forward. Along with Swiss nuclear weapons?

Austrian neutrality becomes impossible.....hmmmm...Tyrol...

Bavaria along with Austria becomes a giant pocket of the West inside a Communist pincer....

Monaco wedged between them.

Tunisia and Algeria must remain outside of Soviet influence. Potential UK and US backing of the French here.

Sicilia and Sardinia might be encouraged to break free.
 

airman

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I have see a scenario described in book What IF 2 where Uk with prime minister Halifax instead Churchill make peace with Germany and at the end of war Italy became communist .
 

bloody sky

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hummm……communistic Italy?why not go further more? (Such as communistic Italy join the Socialist Federal Republic of Balkan)
(0v0)
 

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"Italian Federal Socialist Republic".
I represent coupons for pasta, fights for a piece of cheese in queues, pizza and lasagna - only in a "special distributor", the 15 hp Alfa Romeo people's car, which would be driven by 1 Italian out of 100, the government 40 hp Ferrari, which would be driven by 1 Italian from 1,000,000, the topic for the thesis at the University of Bologna is "Marxism-Leninism in the writings of Francesco Petrarca" and "class struggle from the point of view of Dante Alighieri". Wine deficit.
It will be much easier for the Italian KGB than anywhere else. Why wiretap? You can just watch the hands of people talking about government! "Sentenced to 10 years in prison for insulting gestures towards comrade Pirrozini."
A tired Italian comes home, sits down to have supper, takes from an iron pan (at the bottom of the plant's stamp - "Red Roman") with broken enamel some kind of flour concoction, for some reason called "pasta", takes a piece of bread, sits down to eat, thinking along the way, what a disgusting neighbor he has who bought a car... Meanwhile, his wife, an asphalt paver, is resting after a hard day at work. And the little son is afraid. Tomorrow he should be taken to the dentist - a fat woman who looks like a mixture of a hippopotamus and a Beelzebub, who tomorrow will yell at him and pull out his teeth without anesthesia.
There will be an "Apennine crisis" instead of a "Caribbean crisis". Italians with AK and T-55 versus French army. Bases of Soviet navy and army.
 
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burunduk

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Russian anecdote:

- Is it possible to build communism in France?
- Yes. But have pity on France.
 
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