The Second World War was a complex and difficult time for Italian women. During the five years that Italy was at war, Italians fought both for and against Nazi Germany and were invaded by both sides. Italians also fought each other. In the 1943–5 period, after the Allied armed forces had invaded from the south, the front line inched slowly up the length of the Italian peninsula.1 The northern half of the country suffered both Nazi repression and the lacerating effects of a bloody civil war. Thus, for women, the situation could not have been more different from the Great War since, in the latter part of this new war, the distinction between the home front and the battlefront became blurred. Although no reliable figures exist of war-related civilian deaths, it is certain that they were extremely high, possibly as high as deaths among the military. Many civilians were injured or died in air-raids. Others starved to death, perished from diseases related to malnutrition or were killed by the occupying forces.
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