Photos Italian Rsi


Mi General
MI.Net Member
Jul 10, 2016
At first glance, this pic seems a bit of an enigma. Seen are Italian troops with German equipment and uniform components. Some of the soldiers also seem a bit young.

These are RSI troops = Italian Socialist Republic. After being rescued from captivity by Skorzeny's elite men and whisked away in a Feisler "storch", Benito Mussolini was ill and wanted to retire.

At this point in the war, Hitler was hard-pressed on multiple fronts and needed more men. He threatened Mussolini that he would bomb certain Italian cities if il Duce didn't provide forces for anti-partisan duty in the Balkans.

Mussolini then formed the RSI and recruited to fill the ranks of an army. Pickings were rather slim for recruits then. Inmates from jails and prisons were accepted into the ranks as were actual children as seen in the photo. Since so much Italian armament had been seized by German forces after the Italian king surrendered to the allies in 1943, RSI troops were equipped with a lot of German weapons and uniforms. Looking closely at the pic, no Italian weapons can be seen.

It doesn't require much imagination to see how prisoners might be willing to join such a force, but what about the children? Long story short, many joined because they got to eat. The longer the war went on, the more desperate life became for civilians.

This is only a basic narrative of those events. I happened to find the pic in one of my flash drives and though it might be of some small interest here.

Interesting read @NebrHogger it has prompted me to do a bit more reading about the RSI

Here is a propaganda/Recruiting poster I found

italian RSI WW2.jpg

Join the SS Italian Legion! R.S.I poster

And an RSI collar badge

RSI collar badge.jpg

The War Flag

War_flag_of_the_Italian_Social_Republic RSI.png


RSI propaganda.jpg

Italian Social Republic poster saying: "Germany is truly your friend"
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The top poster brings up an interesting topic. Not many people know there was an Italian division of the Waffen SS.

Hitler's theory was that membership in such an elite fighting force would of itself prompt fierce fighting from anyone connected with it. Italian SS units were formed partially as an experiment and partially because German SS ranks were steadily diminishing from the constant close combat. Initially, Italian SS troops had red collar tabs instead of black as used by German divisions.

They comported themselves well, though and eventually earned black collar tabs.

For militaria collectors, red Italian SS collar tabs are something to watch for.
Great thread and something I never knew of, learning something new every day!mil-smile11
The last photo relates to The Fosse Ardeatine massacre

335 people killed by the then occupying Nazi forces 73 years ago, on 24 March 1944.

The mass killing in 1944 was in retaliation to a partisan attack on a column of marching German policemen the day before on Via Rasella, near Piazza Barberini in central Rome.

The Nazis decided that ten Italians should be executed for each German, an order soon authorised by Hitler who stipulated that it be carried out within 24 hours.

Although something must have gone wrong with the calculation becuase 335 divided by 10 equals 33.5 ? mil-smile07

Reading further I believe they just didn't have enough victims
Decima MAS arguably had the most effective frogman unit of WW2. Among other endeavors, they successfully used manned torpedoes to damage and sink a number of allied ships. A major employment of those was at Alexandria in 1941 when 3 manned torpedoes were transported to the scene by a larger Italian submarine. British warships and a Norwegian tanker were damaged. All six frogmen were captured after the fact.


Unlike Japanese manned torpedoes, the Italian version was designed for the crew to escape. The devices were called "pigs" by MAS operatives for some reason.
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Notice the fighting dagger in the top pic. In the beginning, the daggers were made from the left over part of M1870/87 Vetterli bayonets. The very long bayonets were shortened for use on the M1870/87/15 Vetterli rifles that had been altered to 6,5x52 caliber from the original 10.4x47R caliber.

Alpini shown 3rd pic from the bottom are armed with Carcano M38 short rifles - except for one cavalry carbine. As nearly as I can tell, the bayonets are all of the last type made for M38 short rifles which is consistent with the date shown.

These Alpini are RSI who mostly operated against partisans.

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