Operation Achse is a military operation launched by the Germans during the Italian Campaign. The main aim of the operation is to disarm the Italian armed forces to prevent the Italian forces that had surrendered to the Allied threatened against the Germans.
After Italy joined World War 2, it suffered a series of failures. Although with German help, Italy made some success in North Africa and the Balkans, the Axis forces suffered violent attacks from the British troops in North Africa and till 1943 when Tunisia Campaign ended, Italy completely lost all of its territories in Africa. These failures shaken Mussolini’ ruling in Italy lasting for more than 20 years. Soon, the Allies attacked Sicily of Italy and the Axis forces could not resist the attacks of the advantaged Allied. During the war in Sicily, the Italian king ordered lifting of Mussolini’s position as Italian prime minister. Since then, the Italian government secretly contacted with the Allies to discuss armistice. However, the new government announced to continue to remain as a member of the Axis and fight with the Allies. Germany in order to prevent the new government of Italy to swing to the Allies, sent some German troops in the name of defense to Italy.
On September 8, the armistice agreement between Italy and the Allies was made public. Germany immediately took action and disarmed the Italian armies stationed in Italy, southern France and the Balkans. As the Italian Army did not receive clear instructions, the new Italian government fled from Rome. Germans easily disarmed most of the Italian Army and only encountered fierce resistance from part of the Italian Army in the Balkans. The Italian 33rd Infantry Division because of resisting to disarm by the Germans was killed about 4,500 people after the defeat. The Germans also executed a number of captured Italian officers as a punishment on Italy’s swinging to the Allied. The Germans disarmed about 1 million Italian troops in total, of which 500,000 for the Italian mainland and 500,000 for the Balkans as well as a small number of Italian military forces stationed in other area. All of these 1 million people were captured by Germany, but Germany did not treat these people as prisoners because Germany reckoned that these Italians were traitors of the Axis. In the captives, about 200,000 people participated in the troops established by Mussolini in northern Italy and remaining was used by Germany as labors until the end of World War 2. Those captives working as labors died about 40,000 to 50,000 during this period.
But Germany failed to capture the Italian Navy. Most of the Italian Navy ships sailed out of the port successfully and got out of the control of the Germans. After the end of this action, Italy split into separation. The Kingdom of Italy continued to maintain the southern region controlled by the Allies while Mussolini relied on German support and established Italian Social Republic in northern Italy. The fighting throughout the Italian peninsula lasted till the end of World War 2.