The months heading into the fall of 1943 had not been especially good ones for the country of Italy. Benito Mussolini had been deposed in July and replaced by Marshal Pietro Badoglio. The new leader vowed to “carry on the fight with their Germanic brothers“…while simultaneously meeting with Allied negotiators (smuggled into the capital) in an effort to get Italy out of the War.
An armistice was finally signed on September 3, 1943, but was not publicly announced until five days later (the day before the Allies landed on the beaches of Salerno and Taranto in southern Italy), which prompted the Germans to take over Rome. Badoglio and King Victor Emmanuel III immediately left the capital for the safety of Malta, and the Italians, without direct leadership, were left to enjoy their Nazi occupiers and conditions approaching anarchy.
But on October 13, 1943, some sense of clarity was provided to the Italian citizenry and military as, once again, the Italians declared war…on the Axis. Thousands of Italians turned on their former brothers-in-arms and current overlords, but many others joined the German ranks.
Recommended Reading: The War North Of Rome: June 1944- May 1945 – This part of the war in Italy doesn’t get the press that the rest does. Here’s a great book to learn more about it.