The German Response

While the possibility of leaving Italy to its own devices almost certainly was considered, Germany realized that the taking of Italy by the Allies would ultimately lead to disaster, for several reasons;

It would be a crushing political blow to lose a major ally, regardless of how useful they were or were not in a military engagement.

It would allow the Allies another base of operations in Europe, one that could easily mount attacks at Germany’s Southern borders.

It would give the Allies a major strategic advantage in the Mediterranean, while at the same time canceling out the advantage enjoyed by the Axis.

To counter the Allied effort, Germany deployed more than 2 dozen fresh divisions to the area, while at the same time assisting more than 100,000 German and loyalist Italian troops to escape the Allies, who were hoping to take this force out of the game.

The new German troops, under the command of Field Marshal Albert Kesselring, would then do their best to halt the Allied advances into Italy.

And they were successful, slowing the Allied advance through some of the toughest and bloodiest battles of the war. One of the first battles of this series was for the city of Anzio, a name that still rings in military history.

The decision to attack Italy’s southern tip gave the Allies an advantage of being able to use nearly the entire Mediterranean Sea as a staging and supply resource, but it also provided an advantage for the Germans. The Italian peninsula is narrow in that area, which allowed the Germans to set up multiple effective lines of defense to keep the allied ground forces bottled up in Anzio.

The first of these was at the Gustov line, and successfully held the Allies in check for some time before General Clark of the US Army went against and cut through the lines and advanced on Rome. This did give the Allies a foothold in the country, but also allowed a significant contingent of German troops to escape. These were later deployed in other areas of the Italian theater, and contributed to the protracted offensive required to ultimately liberate Italy, and offensive that would drag on for nearly 2 years.