How Malta Became Center Stage in Mediterranean

Winston

New Member
This is in response to Fred Leander's intriguing article titled:

How Malta Became Center Stage in Mediterranean

As I do not have a Facebook account, and refuse to have one, I cannot add my comments directly under his article. It is a nuisance and a pity, but I really don't understand why one needs a Facebook account to add comments. Mr Admin, can you please rectify this, so that those without Facebook Accounts, can add their comments too?

So, turning to Fred's article. I have several criticisms to make and for the sake of brevity,I will use point form.

1. As I mentioned regarding Fred's previous article called An Analysis of Adolf Hitler’s Directive no. 18, Fred makes a fairly common mistake of viewing the war either through the eyes of the British or the Germans. This site is called ComandoSupremo for a reason, and so, it should primarily focus on the Italian viewpoint. There are enough sites out there espousing the British and German views of the war with all their biases and ethnocentric view of the world and the war; we don't need another! Who really cares what Churchill believed or what Hitler said or what this German general did or didn't do. Let's focus on what the Italians did, said and wanted to achieve; what their goals, strategic aims and hopes were! But the first line of Fred's article starts with: When General Albert Kesselring took over command of German forces in Southern Europe late 1941, his main target was to have the island base of Malta put out of use to the British. But what did the Italian High Command think of Malta's importance? What were Mussolini's views about the value of Malta? Fred, this should surely be your starting point; not what a German general wanted. The war in the Mediterranean was primarily an Italian theater of operation, fought primarily between the British and the Italians. The Germans, believe it or not, were of secondary importance.

2. You go into some long-winded account of the British empire and the importance of Malta in the process. Interesting stuff but hardly relevant. More interesting would have been a short and succinct history of the Italian-Maltese connection. You mention the "bitter defeat" of Adua in 1896, but the first line reads: If Mussolini had kept a cool head all could have ended well for Italy but that was not to be. But in 1896, Mussolini was only 13 years old and more interested in the opposite sex than conquering Ethiopia! And what's all this "cool head" stuff? Contrary to what people may think, Italians are by nature, cool headed. Every Italian I've ever met think first before acting. It's just another myth probably started by the Anglo-American fraternity and Hollywood. Mussolini, throughout his life, was a very "cool-headed"calculating individual. Again, your statement One cannot but wonder how things might have turned out for Italy had Mussolini played his cards better gives the view that Mussolini was a reckless gambler instead of a calculating dictator. However, gamblers are known to have "cool heads" so your analogies of Musso don't quite fit.

3. What more did he expect to achieve by trailing after the German dictator? This is a strange statement to make, Fred. The simple answer: a lot more!!! In 1940, with the sudden and unexpected defeat of France, plus the low countries and Norway, it seemed to just about everyone at the time that betting on the Germans to win the war was a sure-fire bet. Even those in the British cabinet and the king himself believed the Germans were going to win the war. So it should come as no surprise that Mussolini thought as much too. Indeed it would have been very odd if he didn't "trail after the German dictator."


4. The Albanians, now under Italy, were keen on expanding into Kosovo and Montenegro but Mussolini also knew that Hitler would have a say in this area with the looming possibility of a future attack on the Soviet Union. An odd statement about the Albanians wishing to expand into Kosovo and Montenegro, but what I find odder still is that somehow Mussolini had a crystal ball and that in April, 1939, he already knew that Hitler was going to invade the Soviet Union in 1941? In reality Kosovo and Montenegro were in the Italian sphere and Mussolini DID NOT expect nor would accept any interference or "influence" from the Germans, period. The Germans simply muscled in and their presence in the Balkans was unwanted and undesired by the Italians. The attack on the Soviet Union took everyone by surprise, including Mussolini. In fact, it was Hitler's ridiculous attack on Russia that cost the Axis the war. The Germans are responsible for losing the war, and not Italy, even though they do, even today, try to lay the blame on the Italians.

5. Had Mussolini stayed completely out of the war it is not certain whether this would have changed much for the British. I find this statement very odd, for in the next several lines, you contradict it by writing that "the significant British naval losses in the Med would not have taken place and their important sea lanes to their colonies could have been kept open." So the entry of the Italians and their expansionist policies in the Mediterranean did or did not affect the British much? The presence of the Italian fleet certainly did affect the French and their ability to keep their fleet intact in the Med. So how did those "significant British naval losses" occur? Look Fred, the fascist leadership led by Mussolini undertook a policy of expansion in the Mediterranean, the Balkans and East Africa. The French and the British stood in the way of that; not the Germans! Therefore, the obstacle to Italian territorial and maritime expansion, were the British and the French. They were Italy's natural and immediate enemies; not the Germans. There is no use bemoaning the fallacy that the British were somehow the "natural" allies of the Italians and that somehow the Italians made a mistake picking sides with the Germans. The Germans had no naval bases in the Med; they had no territorial ambitions in the Med and East Africa. Their focus was towards the eastern Slavic lands; not down south. I doubt very much somehow that Mussolini would have been content as a neutral selling carrots and broccoli to the British, the French and the Germans.

6. Ciano also looked down on the Germans but was not strong enough to influence Mussolini as his moods changed from one extreme to the other. So we are back to Mussolini being "moody" again? What a moody person he must have been. An entire country led by someone who couldn't control his emotions! By the way, the Ciano Diaries were tampered with by British Intelligence and are generally NOT considered "genuine" by the experts. Mussolini thought Hitler a neurotic, paranoid dilettante! And as the war progressed, and as the Germans were going from one disaster to another in Russia and elsewhere, Mussolini was coming to the conclusion that Hitler was a lunatic. And in the fascist hierarchy, Mussolini's views of Hitler were considered generous! Let's not even discuss what Ciano and the others in the Italian government and diplomatic circles thought of Hitler and the Nazis leadership! The war was won in 1940; only the Nazis could snatch victory into defeat so expeditiously. Only a Hitler could make the Slavic people consider Stalin not such a bad guy after all.

7. I will end on a positive note by referring to your question: How loyal were the Maltese to the British anyway? The short answer is that over 50% of the Maltese actually supported the Italians and the other 50% were lukewarm to the British. The Maltese have the British to thank for the near total destruction of the island by the end of 1943. The Maltese nationalists wanted the British out of Malta and they saw an opportunity with the Italians. Certainly there were very strong cultural and linguistics links between the two Mediterranean peoples. What did the Maltese have in common with a cold northern European people like the British? Actually, not a lot. Most Maltese then as they do today appreciate the Italians more and prefer them to the British. How do I know this? Well, having lived seven years in Malta myself, that is the impression I left with.

8. To conclude, Malta was not considered strategically important by the Italians. It was a thorn in their side, but a thorn they could live with and ignore. Italian convoys to North Africa could avoid it. Besides, the British paid dearly to supply and defend it, much more than it was worth. For two and a half years, it was largely neutralized and put on the defensive as it spent most of its time just trying to survive. Still, I am of the opinion that it should have been taken in 1940/41 when the Italians had the strength to take it and the island's defenses at their weakest. Therefore, it is a fallacy to contend that somehow Malta was "center-stage". Your article does not explain how it was center-stage, nor its importance to the Axis. It was certainly "center-stage" in the minds of the British and of Churchill; indeed it became an obsession to hold on to it because to lose Malta to the Italians would have demoralized further an already demoralized British public.


I will end here. Bye!
 
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Webmaster

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Hello Winston. I have been running websites for almost twenty years now. One thing I learned is that people hate registering new accounts simply to post a comment. So what do they do? They don't post. There are 2.38 billion monthly active Facebook users and I have noticed an increase in comments when I utilize the Facebook messaging system. It's easy to post a comment because the commenter most likely already has a Facebook account and doesn't have to worry about registering. I'm sorry you refuse to use Facebook, but unfortunately, most others do.
 

Winston

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But surely those who are members of this site, should be able to leave comments on articles without having to log in through Facebook?
 

Webmaster

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Staff member
Sorry Winston. There doesn't seem to be a feature for that, unfortunately.
 
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