The Italian Policy towards Croatian Territory in 1941-1943
The objective of the Italian policy relating to former Croatian Banovina in 1941-1943 was to achieve three basic targets: to guarantee supplies for the Italian war industry, to retain the availability of communication routes used for transporting material of strategic importance for the Italian economy, and to pacify the resistance of the local population. In none of those domains did the Italian wartime administration achieve satisfactory effects. Control over Croatian territory was to confirm Italian impact throughout the whole of South-Eastern Europe, which Rome regarded as her agricultural raw material hinterland. This region, delineated in the course of talks held with Germany after the fall of Yugoslavia in 1941, was composed of three parts. The first sphere of influence was a stretch of the Adriatic coast with the most important ports, annexed by Italy. The second encompassed terrains along the Adriatic belonging to the so called Independent State of Croatia (ISC), but under Italian occupation. Italian troops stationed also in the third zone, which encompassed the ISC from the eastern frontier of the second zone to the region of German impact. Italian policy in the conquered territories was based on plunder. Everything which could be useful for the development of the war machine - from raw material to a free of charge work force - was expropriated. Compulsory Italianisation and terror were supposed to win the obedience of the local Slavs. Despite enormous military efforts and co-operation with her allies, Italy proved incapable of dispersing the anti-fascist partisan movement. An end to the Italian political and economic plans was put by Germany, which in the middle of 1942 took over control over the whole Croatian puppet state. At the turn of 1942, the Italians could no longer control either the third or the second zone. Only the first annexed zone remained a mainstay of their impact. The weakness of the Italian economy, the uncertain situation on the front, and the organised resistance of the Slavonic population became the reasons why Italy was no longer capable of conducting a long-term policy which in the future would generate closer economic ties in the region under its control.
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