Question: Italy-Poland relations

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mihu
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Question: Italy-Poland relations

Post by mihu » 01 Apr 2020 17:28

I'm a bit confused about Fascist Italy's attitude to Poland both before and during WW2, and I would like a bit of help from anyone here who knows.

As I understand it, Mussolini had made overtly anti-Slavic statements before the war, such as a speech in September 1920 when he referred to Slavs as "inferior and barbarian". However, I haven't seen any mentions of interwar tensions between the two states, and even saw a report of the Italian foreign minister (Galeazzo Ciano) making a visit to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Warsaw in 1939.

So, I have a few questions about Poland-Italy relations:
  • What was Mussolini and Fascist Italy's reaction to the German-Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939?
  • Did Fascist Italy intern Polish citizens during WW2? If so, is there any account of their treatment in Italian captivity?
  • Did Italian and Polish forces ever see direct combat against each other during WW2?
  • Did the two nations maintain any diplomatic or secret relations during the war, or did they completely sever ties with each other? I know that Poland secretly maintained cooperation with Japan through to at least 1944, so this is why I ask.

    LColombo
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    Re: Question: Italy-Poland relations

    Post by LColombo » 01 Apr 2020 22:54

    I can't answer to the other questions, but I am 99 % sure that there were never clashes between Italian and Polish forces on land or in the air. At sea, two Polish submarines (Sokol and Dzik) operated in the Mediterranean, and sank some Italian ships.

    I think Mussolini's anti-Slavic statements were mostly directed against Yugoslavs (Slovenes and Croats, as Italy wanted to annexate Dalmatia and fully "Italianize" Istria and the Julian March) rather than Poles and "other" Slavs.

    mihu
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    Re: Question: Italy-Poland relations

    Post by mihu » 02 Apr 2020 10:04

    LColombo wrote:
    01 Apr 2020 22:54
    I think Mussolini's anti-Slavic statements were mostly directed against Yugoslavs (Slovenes and Croats, as Italy wanted to annexate Dalmatia and fully "Italianize" Istria and the Julian March) rather than Poles and "other" Slavs.
    Yes, I suspected that, but still I don't know enough about Fascist Italy to know whether they adopted any kind of anti-Slavic racial theories like Germany did at the time, and whether this had any impact on their policies toward Poland.

    SloveneLiberal
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    Re: Question: Italy-Poland relations

    Post by SloveneLiberal » 02 Apr 2020 12:49

    Well before the successfull German offensive against France Italy was trying to end the war with an agreement between Nazi Germany and the western powers. Concessions should be given to Italy and Germany government in Rome believed and tried to achieve. Also they were worried about German-Soviet pact, because Balkan could become Soviet sphere of interest.

    https://www.jstor.org/stable/260029?rea ... b_contents

    mihu
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    Re: Question: Italy-Poland relations

    Post by mihu » 02 Apr 2020 13:33

    SloveneLiberal wrote:
    02 Apr 2020 12:49
    Well before the successfull German offensive against France Italy was trying to end the war with an agreement between Nazi Germany and the western powers. Concessions should be given to Italy and Germany government in Rome believed and tried to achieve. Also they were worried about German-Soviet pact, because Balkan could become Soviet sphere of interest.

    https://www.jstor.org/stable/260029?rea ... b_contents
    Interesting. Thank you for the article link.

    mihu
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    Re: Question: Italy-Poland relations

    Post by mihu » 02 Apr 2020 15:10

    The Polish government in exile declared war against Japan after Pearl Harbor. Does anyone know if they also declared war on Italy at any point? I can't find any mentions of it happening. This website claims that Poland broke off diplomatic relations with Italy on November 13, 1941, but doesn't mention any declarations of war.

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    Loïc
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    Re: Question: Italy-Poland relations

    Post by Loïc » 02 Apr 2020 20:14

    Not even a single combat between Polish and Italian on land throughout World War II?

    it is curious due to the Free Polish being in North Africa and Tobruk and a whole Army Corps in Italy

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    DrG
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    Re: Question: Italy-Poland relations

    Post by DrG » 02 Sep 2020 00:45

    mihu wrote:
    01 Apr 2020 17:28
    • What was Mussolini and Fascist Italy's reaction to the German-Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939?
    • Did Fascist Italy intern Polish citizens during WW2? If so, is there any account of their treatment in Italian captivity?
    • Did Italian and Polish forces ever see direct combat against each other during WW2?
    • Did the two nations maintain any diplomatic or secret relations during the war, or did they completely sever ties with each other? I know that Poland secretly maintained cooperation with Japan through to at least 1944, so this is why I ask.
    1) The Italian reaction was extremely negative. The German pact with USSR was seen as a violation of the Anticomintern pact and the act of war towards Poland as a breach of the additional protocols to the Pact of Steel. This older post of mine is the first of a series of translations that I made of Rosaria Quartararo's great book about Italian diplomacy on the eve of WW2 and it will provide a clearer reply to your question: viewtopic.php?p=1720252#p1720252

    2) I have never read of Polish citizens' internment, but, unless they were involved in political o military activity, there would have been no reason, because the two nations were not at war, at least from the Italian point of view (see point 4).

    3) I know that there were Polish Army units in Tobruk and Polish naval units in the Mediterranean. The subs Sokol and Dzik attacked Italian units, but I don't know more details than you may find online:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ORP_Sok%C ... sh_service
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ORP_Dzik_(P52)

    4) Italy severed its diplomatic relations with Poland after its declaration of war on UK and France on 10 June 1940 (the Polish embassy in Rome was closed on 13 June 1940), but kept informal diplomatic relations throughout the war. AFAIK, Polish forces were retreated from Tobruk due to Italian diplomatic pressure, for example. Yet, Poland was among the signatory Allied powers of the Treaty of Peace with Italy of 10 Feb. 1947, so maybe the Polish government in exile in UK (not recognized by Italy) declared war on Italy during WW2?

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