What was France's legal justification for annexing Italian territory after WWII?

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Sid Guttridge
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What was France's legal justification for annexing Italian territory after WWII?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 11 Feb 2019 08:04

The Atlantic Charter, to which the Free French adhered, stated that the signatories sought no border changes.

After WWII France annexed some small, mountainous border areas from Italy, which would appear to be in breach of the Atlantic Charter and United Nations declarations which followed it. France seems to have been the only nation in western Europe to gain territory as a result of the war.

What was the French legal justification for this?

Cheers,

Sid.

P.S. The practical argument was that these were heads of valleys that gave Italy the ability to mount a down-slope invasion of France. However, this had already failed spectacularly in 1940.

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wm
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Re: What was France's legal justification for annexing Italian territory after WWII?

Post by wm » 12 Feb 2019 18:32

As usual, the right of conquest (an effective conquest, i.e. recognized by all major powers), the only other legal possibility - by agreement is clearly inapplicable here.

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Re: What was France's legal justification for annexing Italian territory after WWII?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 13 Feb 2019 07:11

Hi wm,

So France's signature on the Atlantic Charter and the UN Charter had no value?

Why did other major powers recognize this breach, which was unique in western Europe? Was it part of the quid pro quo for the boundary changes in Eastern Europe?

Had France ever made any previous claim on these bits ot territory?

It all seems a bit inconsistent, odd and unprincipled by comparison with the rest of western Europe.

Cheers,

Sid.

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wm
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Re: What was France's legal justification for annexing Italian territory after WWII?

Post by wm » 13 Feb 2019 15:42

Well I was, as it too frequently happens, mistaken.
It was by agreement after all, and part of the Treaty of Peace with Italy (1947).
It wasn't even logical to assume that a ww2 victorious power had to resort to the right of conquest.
As it was an agreement no legal justification was needed and no external legal authority was involved anyway.

The Charter said: "territorial adjustments must be in accord with the wishes of the peoples concerned", and as it happened the Italians accepted the changes.

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Re: What was France's legal justification for annexing Italian territory after WWII?

Post by Eugen Pinak » 13 Feb 2019 15:43

Sid Guttridge wrote:
11 Feb 2019 08:04
The Atlantic Charter, to which the Free French adhered, stated that the signatories sought no border changes.

After WWII France annexed some small, mountainous border areas from Italy, which would appear to be in breach of the Atlantic Charter and United Nations declarations which followed it. France seems to have been the only nation in western Europe to gain territory as a result of the war.
No, not the only nation. The same did Netherlands and Belgium to Germany.

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Re: What was France's legal justification for annexing Italian territory after WWII?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 13 Feb 2019 18:48

Hi Eugen Pinak,

What were the territories taken by Belgium and the Netherlands?

Cheers,

Sid

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Re: What was France's legal justification for annexing Italian territory after WWII?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 13 Feb 2019 18:55

Hi wm,

It still seems to fly in the face of the Atlantic and UN Charters.

Why did the Italians agree? They had already lost a lot of territory to France in the previous century. Garibaldi had been born in Nizza, which is now Nice.

Cheers,

Sid

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Loïc
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Re: Tende & La Brigue

Post by Loïc » 13 Feb 2019 19:51

Although part of the County of Nizza these few km² were not transfered for the same reasons in 1860-1861 that they gave to France key-positions to invade quickly Piémont, so as good will friendship and peace between both sisters-nations they remained in the Kingdom of Italy officially because they were King's hunting grounds
de facto the inhabitants lived with(in) France as they were separated and "isolated" from Italy by the snowfall six or eight months per year
in the years 1940-1947 the shadow of the Chaberton and the remember of the italian stab in the back of june 1940 followed by an italian occupation supporting the german one played a large role in this affair


for Belgium if this concerns Eupen & Malmédy these german-speaking cantons were previously Belgians since 1918
for Netherlands they wanted to annex a large part of Northwestern Germany increasing their initial size until 50% but only 3 km² were annexed definitively in 1963

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wm
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Re: What was France's legal justification for annexing Italian territory after WWII?

Post by wm » 13 Feb 2019 22:14

I suppose the Italians had no choice, they needed peace but only had war (the Armistice of Cassibile was just an armistice, which additionally surrendered to the Allies all Italian territory).

The Atlantic Charter (and to a lesser degree the UN Charter) was mostly propaganda, wishful thinking, and virtue signaling.
If something is too good (or rather naive) to be implemented it won't be implemented.
Of course, France had its reasons, but as all the talk about forebears, ancestors, ancient borders, blood spilled and even self-determination - the reasons weren't valid principles in international law.
In our reality, borders can only be changed by conquest or by agreement.

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Re: What was France's legal justification for annexing Italian territory after WWII?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 14 Feb 2019 13:48

Hi Loic,

Yup, you and Eugen are right regarding the Netherlands. A single hill was annexed by the Dutch in 1965 - Duivelsberg/Wylerberg. It is now a nature reserve. No population seems to have been involved.

Perhaps the French and Dutch post-war annexations were more a symbolic than real punishment for France and Italy. Their acceptance was, I guess, an admission of guilt for 1940.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: What was France's legal justification for annexing Italian territory after WWII?

Post by Futurist » 01 Apr 2019 00:39

Sid Guttridge wrote:
11 Feb 2019 08:04
France seems to have been the only nation in western Europe to gain territory as a result of the war.
False; the Netherlands permanently kept this one hill as a result of the war:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duivelsberg

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Re: What was France's legal justification for annexing Italian territory after WWII?

Post by Futurist » 01 Apr 2019 00:43

Sid Guttridge wrote:
13 Feb 2019 18:55
Hi wm,

It still seems to fly in the face of the Atlantic and UN Charters.

Why did the Italians agree? They had already lost a lot of territory to France in the previous century. Garibaldi had been born in Nizza, which is now Nice.

Cheers,

Sid
Were the post-WWII expulsions of ethnic Germans from Eastern Europe consistent with the Atlantic Charter and UN Charter?

Also, my suspicion is that the Italians were simply happy that they did not lose more territory. Losing a couple of tiny villages seems extremely minor in comparison to Germany's territorial losses as a result of World War II.

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Loïc
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Re: Trieste Venezia Giulia

Post by Loïc » 01 Apr 2019 01:42

Actually Italy has lost more territories than few french-speaking villages in the snow of the Alps : the last colonies in Africa, Dodecanese Islands,
but these losses did not have a great importance for the Italian public opinion in comparison with the acute border dispute with Yugoslavia concerning the Istrian peninsula and Venezia Giulia where lived a substantial population of ~400 000 inhabitants mainly Italians

major eastern part of the territory, less Trieste and Gorizia, was ceded to Yugoslavia
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Re: What was France's legal justification for annexing Italian territory after WWII?

Post by Futurist » 04 Apr 2019 08:12

It's great that Italy was allowed to keep Trieste. The city had an Italian-majority population and was one of the jewels that Italy acquired as a result of its victory in WWI.

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Re: What was France's legal justification for annexing Italian territory after WWII?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 04 Apr 2019 14:06

Hi Futurist,

The same might once have been said of Nice. Garibaldi, for one, was born there!

Cheers,

Sid.

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