The 4. Army was constituted in June 1938 as a peacetime headquarters under the general officer designated to command it in wartime. It was activated as the 4. Army in August 1939. The army took part in the invasion of France in June 1940. Attacking in the Alps at the Little St. Bernard Pass, the army failed to make much headway and ground to a halt at the French border fortifications. After the armistice, the army headquarters moved to Menton, France and administered the small Italian occupied zone of France.
On November 11, 1942, the army took part in Operation “Anton,” the German led occupation of Vichy France by occupying the Franco-Italian border region and the French Riviera. A German report from March 1943 commented: "The 4th Army has no planes, no naval protection, no heavy artillery, no anti-aircraft. In addition they are short of cement and iron in order to carry out coastal fortifications." (1)
The army made tried to block deportations of Jews from their zone in France but according to army reports the French prefects continued to try to arrest Jews
without our knowing it and have tried, again without our knowledge, to send such Jews into the zone occupied by German troops. Such an attitude may be due to Vichy’s desire to send foreign Jews to work in the Reich rather than French workers. The foreign Jews have naturally welcomed our explicit intervention in their favour with much gratitude and, when the rumour spread around Nice that the Italian authorities were enrolling Jews to work, many presented themselves and asked to be allowed to go to work in Italy.... In local Catholic circle our intervention to impede the transfer of the Jews to other zones was known at once and has been interpreted as an act of favour towards persecuted Jews and much appreciated. (2)
Upon the surrender of Italy in September 1943, the bulk of the army, in the process of withdrawing from southeastern France into Liguria was disarmed and imprisoned by the Germans.
Generale designato d’Armata Camillo Grossi (1938 – 1940)
Generale designato d’Armata Mario Vercellino (1940 – 1940)
Generale designato d’Armata Alfredo Guzzoni (1940 – 1940)
Generale designato d’Armata Mario Caracciolo di Feroleto (1940 – 1941)
Generale designato d’Armata Mario Vercellino (1941 – 1943)
1. "All or nothing: The Axis and the Holocaust 1941-1943" by Jonathan Steinberg, page 101.
2. "All or nothing: The Axis and the Holocaust 1941-1943" by Jonathan Steinberg, page 106.
W. Victor Madeja – Italian Army Order of Battle: 1940-1944 – Between Fascism and Monarchy
Jonathan Steinberg - All or nothing: The Axis and the Holocaust 1941-1943
Telford Taylor – The March of Conquest: The German Victories in Western Europe, 1940
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