IT IS difficult to gauge accurately the material losses which Italy suffered as a result of the ruthless German occupation, the vicissitudes of the fight put up by the partisan and patriot formations, the physical destruction caused by the yard-by-yard battle between Allied and German troops the length and breadth of the peninsula, and the systematic looting carried out by the Germans during their final retreat.
What figures we have are overwhelming. Two million and a half single-room units of housing were destroyed (half a million more than the total number built after 1931, or 7 percent of the total existing just prior to the war). Railroad transportation facilities were reduced by 38 percent, an especially serious matter for Italy with her long north-to-south lines of communication and the economic differences between the agricultural south and the industrial north. Nine-tenths of the merchant marine is gone; 30 percent of the livestock is gone; the damage to agriculture comes to 312 billion liras at the current valuation. Stocks of raw materials were exhausted when liberation came. The bank-note issue, which in 1938 was 22,496 billion liras, has risen to about 300 billions, plus nearly 100 billions in Allied military currency. Meanwhile, the national income, which amounted to 116 billion liras in 1938, dropped to less than 70 billion liras (figured at their 1938 value) in 1945.
Figures, however, do not give a sufficient idea of the complexity of the problems facing the Government and people of Italy. War brought to the surface tensions which for decades had lain deep in the national consciousness. The problem of the relationship between north and south, for instance, could not fail to become more acute during the long interval after the initial Allied landings when the two regions were cut off from one another. One economic consequence of this separation was the disintegration of the price system. Two quite different price structures came into being above and below the dividing line, accompanied by inflation in varying degrees. Prices were not integrated even within the zones, because the transportation crisis so
Loading, please wait...