ITALY AND THE WORLD WAR

BY

THOMAS NELSON PAGE
AMERICAN AMBASSADOR TO ITALY
FROM 1913 TO 1919

WITH MAPS

NEW YORK
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
1920

 

DEDICATED
WITH PROFOUND APPRECIATION
TO THE ITALIAN PEOPLE
WHO, UNDER THEIR NOBLE LEADER, VICTOR EMMANUEL III
BY THEIR HEROIC COURAGE AND YET MORE HEROIC SACRIFICES
CONTRIBUTED DURING THE GREAT WAR
SO MUCH TO SAVE THE CIVILIZATION
WHICH THEY HAD DONE SO MUCH TO CREATE

 

PREFACE

It is not my intention to attempt a formal history of Italy's part in the war, but only to narrate briefly the story of her historic and actual relation to this---the greatest Revolution of which the Annals of Humanity contain any record. A history would demand years of study and labor. But as one who was present during the entire period of the war and was a close and interested observer of all that went on in Italy and about Italy, I feel that, possibly, I may be able to throw some light on what has hitherto certainly not been completely appreciated by those outside of Italy.

One cannot live among a people during years of extreme tension and sacrifice and devotion to a great cause without coming to be in sympathy with them. No more does one have to go the full length of extremists among a people to testify such sympathy. Nor does Italy need any defense. With her ten months' preparation and her three years and a half of war; with her half-million dead and her million and a half wounded, with the deprivation, hardships, and sacrifices of her whole people unmeasured by anything similar among her western allies, she needs to have presented and made known only the simple truth.

In undertaking to speak with any completeness of any great historical movement, whether in a brief or broad compass, it is necessary, in order to secure a proper background, to go back a considerable distance, as no great movement can be comprehended without a knowledge of the economic and historical conditions which caused it or which, at least, gave to it its distinctive character. Without a proper background against which to project the picture, no perspective can be obtained, and no sound idea can be had of its relation to other contemporary movements. This is necessary in any case, but it is more imperative in the case of a country like Italy and a people like the Italian people, whose life goes back almost to the dawn of history, and whose present is indissolubly connected with the past.

How can a reasonably just picture be given of a country whose capital is Rome and whose roads stretching north and south therefrom were built by and bear the names today of a decemvir and of a consul who was slain by Hannibal, without taking into account the continuity of its people and the causes which have contributed thereto? The following anecdote may serve to illustrate this idea.

One of the famous palaces of Rome to-day is the Palazzo Massimo, the home of Prince Massimo. The story goes that Napoleon asked the present occupant's grandfather if it were true that he was descended from Fabius Maximus. The reply was: "I do not know that it is true, but it has been a tradition in the family for some thirteen or fourteen hundred years."

It is not only Rome that is eternal, it is the Italian People that is eternal. It is Italy that is eternal, and that was eternal even when Metternich declared that Italy was only a Geographical Expression---as eternal as the seas which wash her shores: seas which Ulysses sailed and which Homer sang.

Based on this idea---that the key to Italy's relation to the War is to be found in her traditions; her history---especially during the last hundred years---and in her geographical and economic situation, this work is divided into three parts. The first is introductory and contains in outline the History of the Italian People in the long period when they were included in and bound under the Holy Roman Empire. The second contains the story of their evolution, from the conception of their National Consciousness on through the long and bitter struggle with the Austrian Empire for their Liberty, down to the time when, under a Constitutional Sovereign, they developed into a new and United Italy, to become, almost at a bound, one of the Great Powers of Europe; yet with one step before her: the complete rounding out of her People, and the possession of her ancient strategic frontiers.

The third part contains the story of the Diplomatic struggle to establish herself in a position to which Italy considered herself entitled as a Great Power and on which she had set what she believes her legitimate Aspirations, by virtue of her contribution to the World both in the Past and in this World War.

What she performed in the War is related briefly that the Reader may know what one who was present in Italy throughout the War was able to learn on the spot of the part played therein by the Italian People.

T. N. P.

 


CONTENTS

I.
INTRODUCTORY---THE CONCEPTION OF ITALIAN NATIONAL CONSCIOUSNESS

II.
NATIONAL CONSCIOUSNESS AND THE FIRST WAR FOR INDEPENDENCE

III.
ITALY ATTAINS HER UNION

IV.
ITALY BETWEEN FRANCE AND AUSTRIA

V.
THE TRIPLE ALLIANCE

VI.
ITALY AND THE BALKANS.

VII.
UNDER THE TRIPLE ALLIANCE.

VIII.
ITALY AND THE ANNEXATION OF BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA

IX.
THE ITALIAN-TURKISH WAR AND THE TRIPLE ALLIANCE

X.
ITALY'S SITUATION AT THE OUTBREAK OF WAR

XI.
ITALY'S ATTITUDE IN THE BEGINNING OF THE WAR

XII.
ITALIAN POLITICAL SITUATION IN THE AUTUMN OF 1914

XIII.
GERMAN AND AUSTRIAN INTRIGUES To KEEP ITALY NEUTRAL.

XIV.
CONDITIONS WHEN ITALY ENTERED THE WAR

XV.
ITALY'S FIRST YEAR OF WAR

XVI.
ITALY AND THE ALLIED CAUSE IN 1916

XVII.
ITALY IN THE DARK PERIOD OF THE WAR

XVIII.
ITALY'S WORK IN THE OFFENSIVE OF 1917

XIX.
THE DISASTER OF CAPORETTO

XX.
THE PACT OF LONDON AND THE PRESIDENT'S PRINCIPLES

XXI.
ITALY AND THE LAST CAMPAIGN

XXII.
ITALY'S VICTORY AND THE COLLAPSE OF AUSTRIA

XXIII.
ITALY'S DIFFICULTIES AFTER THE VICTORY
APPENDICES

APP1
TEXT OF THE ARMISTICE WITH AUSTRIA

APP2
TEXT OF THE PACT OF LONDON

 

MAPS

1
The Unification of Italy

2
Istrian and Dalmatian Littoral with Ancient Venetian Boundary

3
Europe at the Time of Italy's Entry into the War

4
Theatre of the Italian War

5
The Trentino Offensive, May-June, 1916

6
The Austro-German Drive at Caporetto, October, 1917, Showing the Breaks in the Italian Lines


Chapter One

Table of Contents