Greece in Italian Diplomacy and Propaganda in 1939-1940
Italian propaganda and diplomatic undertakings in Greece during the 1939-1940 period were directly connected with the premises of imperial and war policies. Italian fascists were of the opinion that political and military control over Greek territory would make it possible to strengthen their position in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Balkans. This was the reason why Greek-Italian relations in the titular years have been, as a rule, described within the context of Italian-British rivalry in South-Eastern Europe. The wartime policy of the Ioannis Metaxas regime was assessed negatively. Despite assurances expressed by, i. a. the Italian ambassador to Athens, and concerning the maintenance of Greek neutrality, Benito Mussolini and Galeazzo Ciano, the Italian minister of foreign affairs, declared that Greece was a British satellite and thus posed a threat to the security of Italy. In 1940 this conviction was supported by reports sent from Athens by the renowned man of letters Kurt Erich Suckert (pen name Curzio Malaparte) and by accounts provided by Italian agents in Greece. Italian war propaganda gave pride of place to the defensive aspect of the invasion, purportedly provoked by the Greeks and the British. Greece was described as a backward country, rent by domestic conflicts and governed by a treacherous and repressive regime. In order to stir enthusiasm, confirm the myth of the invincible Italian army, and show that fascist Italy was capable of equalling the spectacular successes of the German armed forces, propaganda material echoed also all the negative stereotypes - the Greeks were accused of cowardice and irresponsibility for the fate of their state.
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