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Rodolfo Graziani
August 11, 1882 - January 11, 1955
Rodolfo Graziani.jpg
Place of birth Filettino, Italy
Place of death Rome, Italy (aged 72)
Allegiance Italy Kingdom of Italy (1915 - 1943)
Flag of RSI.svg Italian Social Republic (1943 - 1945)
Service/branch Regio Esercito (Royal Italian Army) (1914 - 1943)
Esercito Nazionale Repubblicano (1943 - 1945)
Years of service 1903 - 1945
Rank General
Vice Governor of Italian Cyrenaica
Governor of Italian Cyrenaica
Governor of Italian Somaliland
Marshal of Italy
Governor of Italian East Africa
Viceroy of Italian East Africa
Governor of Italian Libya
Minister of Defense (RSI)
Unit Italian Tenth Army
Battles/wars Second Italo-Abyssinian War
World War II

Rodolfo Graziani, 1st Marquess of Neghelli (August 11, 1882 - January 11, 1955), was an officer in the Italian Royal Army (Regio Esercito) who led military expeditions in Africa before and during World War II.

Contents

Rise to prominence

Rodolfo Graziani was born in Filettino (near the town of Frosinone) in the Province of Frosinone in the Kingdom of Italy. In 1903, he decided to pursue a military career. He served in World War I and became the youngest colonel in the Italian Royal Army.

In Libya

In the 1920s, Graziani commanded the Italian forces in Libya. He was responsible for pacifying the Senussi rebels. During this so-called "pacification," he was responsible for the construction of several concentration camps and labor camps, where tens of thousands Libyan prisoners died, if not killed[1] directly by hanging, like Omar Mukhtar, or bullets, then indirectly by starvation or disease. His deeds earned him the nickname "the Butcher of Fezzan"[2] among the Arabs, but was called by the Italians the Pacifier of Libya ("Pacificatore della Libia").

From 1926 to 1930, Graziani was the Vice Governor of Italian Cyrenaica in Libya. In 1930, he became Governor of Cyrenaica and held this position until 1934 when it was determined that he was needed elsewhere. In 1935, Graziani was made the Governor of Italian Somaliland.

In Ethiopia

From 1935 to 1936 during the Second Italo-Abyssinian War, Graziani was the commander of the southern front. His army invaded Ethiopia from Italian Somaliland and he commanded Italian forces in the Battle of Genale Doria and the Battle of the Ogaden. However, Graziani's efforts in the south were secondary to the main invasion launched from Eritrea by General Emilio De Bono and continued by Marshal of Italy Pietro Badoglio. It was Badoglio and not Graziani who entered Addis Ababa in triumph after his "March of the Iron Will." But it was the ruthless Graziani who said: "The Duce will have Ethiopia, with or without the Ethiopians."

Addis Ababa fell to Badoglio on May 5, 1936. Graziani had wanted to reach Harar before Badoglio reached Addis Ababa, but failed to do so. Even so, on May 9, Graziani was awarded for his role as commander of the southern front with a promotion to the rank of Marshal of Italy (Maresciallo d'Italia).

After the war, Graziani was made Viceroy and Governor-General of Ethiopia. Graziani survived an assassination attempt on February 19, 1937 a bloody and indiscriminate repression followed. He became known as "the Butcher of Ethiopia".[3]

From 1939 to 1941, Graziani was the Commander-in-Chief of the Italian Royal Army's General Staff.

In World War II

At the start of World War II, Graziani was still the Commander-in-Chief of the Italian Royal Army's General Staff. After the death of Marshal Italo Balbo, he took his place as the Commander-in-Chief of Italian North Africa and as the Governor General of Libya. Balbo was killed in a friendly fire incident on 28 June 1940.

Initially giving Graziani a deadline of 8 August, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini ordered Graziani to invade Egypt with the Tenth Army. Graziani expressed doubts about the ability of his largely un-mechanized force to defeat the British and put off the invasion for as long as he could. However, faced with demotion, Graziani ultimately followed orders and elements of the Tenth Army invaded Egypt on 9 September. The Italians made modest gains into Egypt and then prepared a series of fortified camps to defend their positions. In 1941, Graziani resigned his commission after the British counterattacked and the Tenth Army was completely defeated by them during Operation Compass.

On 25 March 1941, Graziani was replaced by General Italo Gariboldi.

Graziani was the only Italian marshal to remain loyal to Mussolini after Dino Grandi's Grand Council of Fascism coup. He was appointed Minister of Defence of the Italian Social Republic and oversaw the mixed Italo-German LXXXXVII "Liguria" Army (Armee Ligurien) commanded by General Alfredo Guzzoni.

At the end of the war, Graziani spent a few days in San Vittore prison in Milan before being transferred to Allied control. He was brought back to Africa in Anglo-American custody, staying there until February 1946. Allied forces then felt the danger of assassination or lynching had passed and returned him to Procida prison in Italy.

In 1950, a military tribunal sentenced Graziani to prison for a term of 19 years as punishment for his collaboration with the Nazis, but he was released after serving only a few months of the sentence. He died in Rome in 1955.

Military career

Trivia

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Italian atrocities in world war two | Education | The Guardian:# Rory Carroll # The Guardian, # Monday June 25 2001
  2. ^ Hart, David M.: Muslim Tribesmen and the Colonial Encounter in Fiction and on Film: The Image of the Muslim Tribes in Film and Fiction. Het Spinhuis, 2001. Page 121. ISBN 905589205X
  3. ^ An account of this event, known in Ethiopia as "Yekatit 12", is chapter 14 of Anthony Mockler's Haile Selassie's War (New York: Olive Branch, 2003).
Government offices
Preceded by
Pietro Badoglio
Viceroy and Governor-General of Italian East Africa
11 June 1936 to 21 December 1937
Succeeded by
Amedeo, 3rd Duke of Aosta
Military offices
Preceded by
Italo Balbo
Commander-in-Chief of Italian North Africa and Governor-General of Italian Libya
28 June 1940 to 25 March 1941
Succeeded by
Italo Gariboldi

Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Rodolfo Graziani (August 11, 1882January 11, 1955) was an Italian military officer who led expeditions in Africa before and during World War II. He became commander after the death of Italo Balbo. He resigned his commission in 1941 after being defeated by the British in Operation Compass. He was the only one of the Italian marshals to remain loyal to Mussolini after Dino Grandi's Grand Council of Fascism coup, and was appointed Minister of Defence of the Italian Social Republic. In 1950, a military tribunal sentenced Graziani to prison for a term of 19 years as punishment for his collaboration with the Nazis, but he was released after serving only a few months of the sentence. He died in Rome a few years later.

Sourced

  • Herewith I, Marshal of Italy Rodolfo Graziani, in my capacity as Italian Minister of War, extend to General of the Waffen-SS Karl Wolff, the higher SS and police leader and fully empowered general of the German Armed Forces in Italy, the following powers: to conduct negotiations on my behalf and, with the same conditions as for the German Armed Forces in Italy, to enter into agreements binding me with respect to all regular troops of the Italian Army, Navy and Air Force as well as of the military Fascist units.
    • Letter to General Karl Wolff. Quoted in "The Secret Surrender" - Page 165 - by Allen Dulles - History - 2006
  • It's best that you know this immediately: I have never been a Fascist, but always a soldier who obeyed orders.
    • To SS Colonel Eugen Dollmann. Quoted in "Mussolini: The Last 600 Days of Il Duce" - Page 27 - by Ray Moseley - History - 2004
  • An enemy forgiven is more dangerous than a thousand foes.
    • Quoted in "The Suez Canal in World Affairs" - Page 79 - by Hugh Joseph Schonfield - 1952
  • Until face to face with the enemy, who inexorably advanced well protected toward sure prey, they cried with the last spark of life, "Long Live Italy!"
    • Quoted in "Marshal Is Frank" - "New York Times" article, December 23, 1940
  • The Duce will have Ethiopia... with or without Ethiopians.
    • Quoted in "Wild at Heart" - "The Guardian" article - Saturday, June 29, 2002

External links

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