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I am writing a book about my mother’s life during WWII in northern Italy. I read that in 1941, Italy was on the brink of military disaster and Mussolini needed more able-bodied men to equip his army. I read he changed the conscription age up to 51-year-old men. I have also read 45 years. It seems every country is different. Can you clarify specifically for Northern Italy?

Thank you!





Dear Linda,

According to the most recent book on the subject, Italian Soldier in North Africa 1941-43 by Piero Crociani and Pier Paolo Battistelli, the first mobilization of 1939-40 focused on men aged 21 to 30, “with a small intake aged 31 to 45.” The subsequent debacles in Greece and North Africa made it necessary to mobilize reinforcements, but the main focus was still on men aged 20 to 25. There is no mention of conscripting 51-year-old geezers in 1941.



Jon Guttman

Research Director

World History

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