Ettore Bastico

Ettore Bastico

Ettore Bastico in 1942

Ettore Bastico in 1942
Born (1876-04-09)9 April 1876
Bologna, Italy
Died 2 December 1972(1972-12-02) (aged 96)
Rome, Italy
Allegiance  Kingdom of Italy (1915–1943)
Service/branch  Royal Italian Army
Years of service 1896–1943
Rank Marshal of Italy
Battles/wars World War I
Second Italo-Abyssinian War
Spanish Civil War
World War II

Ettore Bastico (9 April 1876 – 2 December 1972) was an Italian military officer before and during World War II, as well as the commandant of the Jano concentration camp, in Libya, during the Holocaust. In addition to being a general of the Royal Italian Army, he was also a senator and governor. He held high commands during the Second Italo-Abyssinian War (Ethiopia), the Spanish Civil War, and the North African Campaign.


Bastico was born in Bologna, Italy. When he came of age, Bastico joined the Italian Army and fought in World War I. In 1928, Bastico was promoted to brigadier (generale di brigata). At that time, the Kingdom of Italy was ruled by dictator Benito Mussolini.

In this role, Bastico was a target of Giulio Douhet in Recapitulation (published with the work The Command of the Air). Douhet devotes many pages to critically examining six "basic theories" put forth by Bastico and how they relate to the future of an Independent Air Force's role in future wars.[1]

Bastico was promoted to major general on 29 May 1932 and in 1935, he commanded the 1st Blackshirt Division (23 Marzo) during the Second Italo-Abyssinian War. In 1935, Bastico was the commander of the III Corps in Ethiopia and on 10 February 1936 he was promoted to lieutenant general (generale di corpo d'armata). From 1936 to 1937, he was the commander of the II Corps.

In 1937, during the later stages of the Spanish Civil War, Bastico replaced Mario Roatta as the commander-in-chief of the Italian volunteer corps in Spain, the Corpo Truppe Volontarie. The CTV was sent to help the Spanish Nationalists side in the war. From mid-1937, Bastico's force fought in the Battle of Santander, a decisive victory for the Nationalists. In late 1937, Bastico was replaced by Mario Berti. In October 1937, Bastico received the rank of general, "generale di corpo d'armata designato d'armata," the highest rank that could be assigned if Italy was not officially at war. In February 1939, the Italian volunteers left Spain.

He was then assigned to the Second Army. Shortly after, Bastico was appointed commander of the new motorized Sixth Army, known at the "Armata del Po," stationed in the Po Valley. area. In 1939, Bastico was named senator of the Kingdom of Italy.

When Italy entered World War II, Bastico was Governor-General of the Italian Aegean Islands (Dodecanese Islands) and he was promoted to full general (Generale d'Armata) on 7 August 1940. On 19 July 1941, Bastico was named commander over all Axis forces in North Africa; however, his command went largely unrecognized by the Germans and especially General Erwin Rommel; eventually, in 1942, he was reduced to the command of the troops located in Libya. Despite this, Bastico was promoted to Marshal of Italy (Maresciallo d'Italia) on 12 August 1942, largely to avoid him being junior in rank to Rommel. When Libya was lost to the Eighth Army's advance, since 2 February 1943 he was left without a command for the rest of the war.

Bastico died in Rome at 96, after spending his last years studying history. At the time of his death, he was the last living Italian military officer to have held an Italian five-star-rank in an active capacity. (Umberto II, the last King of Italy, was appointed a marshal of Italy in a ceremonial capacity; he died in 1983).



Bastico wrote some books about Italian military history. The most famous are:

See also



  1. Douhet, Giulio; The Command of the Air, book three (Recapitulation), pp. 263-269; Office of Air Force History, Washington, D.C.
  2. Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 26.


  • Patzwall, Klaus D.; Scherzer, Veit (2001). Das Deutsche Kreuz 1941 – 1945 Geschichte und Inhaber Band II [The German Cross 1941 – 1945 History and Recipients Volume 2] (in German). Norderstedt, Germany: Verlag Klaus D. Patzwall. ISBN 978-3-931533-45-8. 

External links

Military offices
Preceded by
Italo Gariboldi
Commander-in-Chief of Italian North Africa and Governor-General of Italian Libya
19 July 1941—2 February 1943
Succeeded by
Giovanni Messe
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