Ambrosio, General Vittorio, 1879-1950

Ambrosio was Chief of Staff of the Italian Army and took part in the plot to overthrow MUSSOLINI. He was a professional soldier who held a series of staff appointments and eventually succeeded CAVALLERO as Mussolini’s Chief of Staff on 30 January 1943. This was an anti-German move because Ambrosio wanted to ensure that Italy was not treated as Germany’s satellite. The North African campaign was drawing to a close and there was little Ambrosio could do to restore the situation, especially since Generals von ARNIM and KESSELRING would not consult him.

Faced with an impossible military situation Ambrosio decided to convince Mussolini to withdraw from the alliance with Germany and negotiate with the Allies. Ambrosio accompanied Mussolini to conferences with HITLER at Salzburg (April 1943) and Feltre (19 July 1943) and saw that Mussolini was incapable of speaking out against Hitler. Ambrosio claimed that he had been preparing a coup for several months and he was even considered as a replacement for Mussolini. On 24 July the Fascist Grand Council passed a vote of censure on Mussolini and on 25 July the King appointed BADOGLIO as Prime Minister. Ambrosio had the regular army Piave Division stationed in Rome and had sent Mussolini’s elite body-guards on maneuvers. He maintained the pretence of loyalty to Germany and sent an envoy to negotiate with the Allies. The negotiations were protracted and the formal surrender was eventually signed in Malta on 29 September by Badoglio and Ambrosio. This had given the Germans enough time to occupy Rome and all of northern Italy. After this fiasco Ambrosio was dismissed by Badoglio because the Allies did not trust him.

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