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Ugo Cavallero
September 20, 1880 – September 13, 1943 (aged 62)
Ugo Cavallero
Place of birth Casale Monferrato, Piedmont, Italy
Place of death Frascati, Lazio, Italy
Allegiance Italy Kingdom of Italy
Service/branch Regio Esercito (Royal Italian Army)
Years of service 1900 – 1943
Rank Marshal of Italy
Commands held Italian Supreme Command
Battles/wars Italo-Turkish War
World War I
World War II
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross

Ugo Cavallero (September 20, 1880 – September 13, 1943) was an Italian military commander before and during World War II.



Born in Casale Monferrato, Piedmont, Cavallero had a privileged childhood as a member of the Italian nobility.

After attending military school, Cavallero was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in 1900.

Cavallero later attended college and graduated in 1911, earning a degree in mathematics.

Still in the army, Cavallero fought in Libya in 1913, during the Italo-Turkish War, and was awarded a Bronze Medal for Military Valor.

World War I

In 1915, Cavallero was transferred to the Italian Supreme Command. A brilliant organizer and tactician, Cavallero became a Brigadier General and Chief of the Operations Office of the Italian Supreme Command in 1918. In this capacity, Cavallero was instrumental in forming plans that led to Italian victories at Piave and Vittorio Veneto during World War I.During his time as chief of the plan of Italian General Staff he developed an antipathy with Pietro Badoglio the Sottocapo di Stato Maggiore ( vice chief of the staff ) of the army.

Interwar period

Cavallero retired from the army in 1919 but later rejoined in 1925, at which time he became Benito Mussolini’s Undersecretary of War. A committed Fascist, Cavallero was made a senator in 1926 and in 1927 became a major general. After leaving the army for a second time, Cavallero became involved in business and diplomatic enterprises throughout the late 1920s and early 1930s.

Cavallero rejoined the army for the third and final time in 1937. Promoted to Lieutenant General, he became Commander of the combined Italian forces in Italian East Africa in 1938 and was made a full General in 1940.

World War II

Cavallero with Erwin Rommel.

After Italy entered World War II in June 1940, Cavallero was made the Commander-in-Chief of the Italian Army Group in Albania. In October, when Italy invaded Greece, he was the commander of the invading Italian forces. In December, he replaced Pietro Badoglio as the Chief of the Italian Supreme Command (Comando Supremo). Italian military activities in Greece remained part of Cavallero's responsibilities and oversight was added immediately of campaigns in the Western Desert and East Africa.

As Chief of the Italian Supreme Command, Cavallero worked closely with German Field Marshal Albert Kesselring and often asked for Kesselring’s advice on military matters. Cavallero opposed Field Marshal Erwin Rommel’s invasion of Egypt and campaigned for Rommel’s dismissal in 1942. But he was ignored by both Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. Under Cavallero’s leadership, Italy’s military forces performed poorly during the war. Nonetheless, he was promoted to Marshal of Italy (Maresciallo d'Italia) in 1942 after the promotion of Rommel to Field Marshal. During his tenure as chief of general staff, his performance were very bad and he become famous for his optimistic view of the course of the war[1].

In July 1943, after several serious Italian setbacks (such as the Allies’ capture of Libya), Cavallero was dismissed as Chief of the Supreme Command (Commando Supremo) and replaced by Vittorio Ambrosio. In response to Cavallero's dismissal, members of the Fascist leadership like Galeazzo Ciano expressed their joy.

At the same time as Cavallero's dismissal, Mussolini’s government was toppled by the King and newly appointed Prime Minister Pietro Badoglio . Cavallero was arrested by Badoglio for his Fascist and pro-German views. In his own defense, Cavallero wrote a letter to Badoglio claiming he despised Mussolini and Fascism. But Badoglio did not believe him.

In September, when Badoglio’s government surrendered to the Allies, the Germans invaded Rome and rescued Cavallero. They planned to make him a commander of Italian military forces still loyal to Fascist ideals. However, the Germans found his anti-Fascist letter in Badoglio’s abandoned office and believed him to be a traitor.

Now hated by both the Germans and by the forces loyal to Badoglio, a desperate Cavallero committed suicide. On 13 September, he shot himself in the head.[2] Whether he did so willingly is still a matter of some debate.


See also


  1. ^ "Roma civica website" (in Italian). Romacivica. May 31 2008.  
  2. ^ Tucker, Spencer C. (2001). "Cavallero, Hugo". Who's Who in Twentieth-Century Warfare. Routledge. p. 49. ISBN 9780415234979. Retrieved August 7, 2009.  
  3. ^ Scherzer 2007, p. 258.


  • Scherzer, Veit (2007). Ritterkreuzträger 1939–1945 Die Inhaber des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939 von Heer, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm sowie mit Deutschland verbündeter Streitkräfte nach den Unterlagen des Bundesarchives (in German). Jena, Germany: Scherzers Miltaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2.


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Ugo Cavallero (September 20, 1880September 13, 1943) was an Italian military commander before and during World War II. Cavallero became Benito Mussolini's Undersecretary of War in 1925. A committed Fascist, Cavallero was made a senator in 1926 and in 1927 became a major general. After Italy entered World War II in 1940, Cavallero was made Chief of the Italian Supreme Command and worked closely with German Field Marshal Albert Kesselring. He was promoted to Marshal of Italy (field marshal) in 1942. After Mussolini's government was toppled in 1943, Cavallero was arrested by Prime Minister Pietro Badoglio for his Fascist and pro-German views. On September 13, 1943, Cavallero committed suicide, by a gunshot wound to the head.


  • We would have to make clear to our German ally our disagreement on three points: treatment of the occupied countries, excesses towards the Jews, and relations with the Papacy. One ought to try to create a true European federation respectful of each nationality.
    • To Alberto Pirelli. Quoted in "All Or Nothing: The Axis and the Holocaust, 1941-1943" - Page 67 - by Jonathan Steinberg - History - 2002
  • I've been in contact with Marshal Badoglio. We agree that Italy must be saved from the abyss toward which Fascism is driving her. If we depose Mussolini, however, the new government should do nothing drastic to upset Hitler until we can secretly negotiate an armistice with the Allies.
    • Quoted in "Improbable Heroes" - by Carl L. Steinhouse - History - 2005 - Page 104
  • I am very much afraid that the loss of Cyrenaica will have serious political consequences for the Duce.
    • Quoted in "Der Afrikafeldzug: Rommels Wüstenkrieg 1941-1943" - Page 112 - by Franz Kurowski - World War, 1939-1945 - 1986
  • The Duce told me that he foresaw the possibility of a conflict between Germany and Russia. He said that we could not stay out of this because it involved the struggle against communism. It was, therefore, necessary to make arrangements for the bringing together between Ljubljana and Zagreb of a motorized division, of an armored division, and of the grenadier division.
    • May 30. Quoted in "Diplomacy of Aggression" - Page 110 - by Leonid Nikolaevich Kutakov - World War, 1939-1945 – 1970
  • The assault on Malta will cost us many casualties… But I am the one who wants it because I consider it absolutely essential for the future development of the war. If we take Malta, Libya will be safe. If not, the situation of the colony will always be precarious.
    • Quoted in "From the Ashes of Disgrace" - Page 79 - by Franco Maugeri, Victor Rosen - 1948

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