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Italian Society Under Anglo-American Bombs: Propaganda, Experience and Legend, 1940-1945

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Claudia Baldoli



The Italian experience of being bombed has been neglected in the historiography of the Second World War, especially in English. This marginalization is not justified by the record of events; according of official estimates, Italian civilian victims of bombing numbered around 60,000. The reaction of the Italian population to air raids was carefully evaluated and discussed by the Allies, who decided to hit civilians living near industrial areas with a view to testing their psychological resistance. The article focuses on the civilian's reactions to death coming from the sky, by examining their response to both Anglo-American and Fascist propaganda, and to the experience of the raids at different stages of the war. It analyses the ways in which civilians coped with the collapse of state defences (including the creation of legends and the spreading of rumours independent of state propaganda), and the psychologically complex and shifting response to bombers who introduced themselves as liberators. The research presented is based on archival sources, particularly prefects' reports from different parts of Italy to the Ministry of Interior, on both Anglo-American and Fascist propaganda, newspaper articles, and civilian's diaries.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Baldoli C, Fincardi M

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Historical Journal

Year: 2009

Volume: 52

Issue: 4

Pages: 1017-1038

Date deposited: 11/07/2011

ISSN (print): 0018-246X

ISSN (electronic): 1469-5103

Publisher: Cambridge University Press


DOI: 10.1017/S0018246X09990380


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