1998 (1) Spring

Intelligence and Operational Support for the Anti-Nazi Resistance: The OSS and Italian Partisans in World War II

By Gerald K. Haines


The contribution of Italian anti-Fascist partisans to the campaign in Italy in World War II has long been neglected. These patriots kept as many as seven German divisions out of the line. They also obtained the surrender of two full German divisions, which led directly to the collapse of the German forces in and around Genoa, Turin, and Milan.

These actions pinned down the German armies and led to their complete destruction. Throughout northern Italy, partisan  brigades in the mountains and clandestine action groups in the cities liberated every major city before the arrival of combat units of Fifteenth Army Group, a mixture of American, British, French, and Commonwealth divisions, to which was added a smattering of Royalist Italians.

The partisans’ success was largely attributable to the arms and supplies parachuted to them by the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) and the OSS and to the brilliance of the intelligence networks developed by members of the Resistance in constant touch with Fifteenth Army Group headquarters via secret radios.

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