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By June 1944 the allies were in control of North Africa and of Italy. Why didn’t they just pour men and equipment through North African and Italian ports ports and come come around the Mediteranian and or up through Italy to attack the the German from the east, Thus creating a second Eastern front? Why spend tens of thousands of allied lives invading the Normandy beaches?

Tom Montero




Dear Mr. Montero,

Since Italy entered the war, Winston Churchill had advocated an Allied drive from North Africa and up the Italian boot into Germany, calling it the “soft underbelly of Europe.” In practice, however, the mountainous Italian terrain and numerous river valleys lent themselves well to Feldmarschall Albert Kesselring’s defensive strategy, turning the country into what British soldiers came to call a “tough old gut.” By June 5, 1944 the Allies had broken out of the impasse at Monte Cassino and the months-long stalemate at Anzio to secure Rome. Still lying ahead, however, were still more mountainous lines of well-fortified German defenses, as well as diehard fascist northern Italian soldiers of the Repubblica Sociale Italiana based in Turin. The road from Rome to the Italian alps proved to be another agonizing slog. In comparison, Normandy promised tough going from the beachhead through the hedgerow country of the Cotentin Peninsula, but once through that and past the towns of Caen and St. Lô, the Allies would be presented with relatively open country where the armored and mechanized forces of Bernard Montgomery and George Patton would have room to maneuver and advance swiftly. The Allies still advancing in Italy had just made it to the Brenner Pass by the end of April 1945, at which point Benito Mussolini had met his end at the hands of pro-Allied Italian partisans…but at the same time the Western Allies were well into Germany, Patton was storming through Austria into Czechoslovakia, and Soviet forces had cornered Adolf Hitler himself in Berlin.



Jon Guttman

Research Director

World History

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