Redeemed Italy

: Winning A Cause World War Stories

Italy, since 1860 at least, has cherished the dream that sometime all

European territory with Italian-speaking inhabitants would be united

under Italian government. When the World War began Italy was supposed

to be an ally of Germany and Austria. She had agreed to fight with

them in case they were attacked--in a defensive war.

At first she did not enter the World War. She perceived from the very

ng that Germany and Austria were the attackers and were not the

nations attacked. Her people began to understand what victory for the

Central Powers would mean and clamored for war on the side of the

Allies. Then the cry went up to redeem the lost Italian provinces held

by Austria and called Italia Irredenta or Unredeemed Italy, and

Italy entered the war May 23, 1915.

At first she declared war upon Austria but not upon Germany. She made

no attempt to work in harmony with the Allies. It was a war of her own

upon Austria to regain the lost Italian provinces of the Trentino and

Trieste. Although she fought against tremendous obstacles in the

mountain passes with wonderful courage and success, her entrance into

the war was of assistance to the Allies only as it kept a certain

number of Austrian soldiers from the eastern and western fronts.

In 1916, the Italians captured Gorizia and all Italy went wild and

began to dream of a more wonderful development than had ever seemed

possible before. In 1917, they fought on with seemingly great success

and dreamed wilder dreams than ever, for Russia was out of the war and

would have no claim to Constantinople and the straits. Italy in this

year sent an army across the Adriatic into Albania to assure Italian

control of that country.

And then the castles in the air were suddenly shattered. The Italian

army had not been properly supplied and the country was very short of

coal. The army had therefore not been able to follow up its successful

attacks. The enemy had also caused great discontent among the common

soldiers in the Italian forces by spreading lies among them. The

collapse of the Russian armies had also made many of them believe

Germany was unbeatable.

Then, too, it is said the Italian generals were too sure, too

confident, as athletic trainers would say, and had not properly

protected their armies and their northern provinces against a reverse.

Italy had declared war on Germany on August 27, 1916, and German shock

troops set free by the downfall of Russia were sent against the

incautious Italians and broke through their lines.

No prepared positions were ready back of the lines. The great bases

were close up to the lines. Therefore when the Italian armies were

obliged to retreat to prevent being surrounded and captured, they had

to retreat so far that their army bases with all their supplies were

lost and hundreds of thousands of Italian non-combatants were forced to

leave their homes on scarcely a moment's notice. 250,000 Italians

and 2000 guns were captured by the enemy.

The greatest humiliation and the worst suffering followed, however, for

the Italian people who were left behind in the provinces overrun by the

victorious Austrians and Germans. The following proclamation by the

Germans in the province of Udine is an excellent example of how the

Huns treated conquered territory and conquered peoples.

PROCLAMATION issued by the Headquarters of the German Military

Government at Udine to the inhabitants of conquered Italy.

A house-to-house search will be made for all concealed arms, weapons,

and ammunition.

All victuals remaining in the houses must be delivered up.

Every citizen must obey our labor regulations.


in the fields every day, Sundays included, from 4 A.M. to 8 P.M.

Disobedience will be punished in the following manner:--

(1) Lazy workmen will be accompanied to their work and watched by

Germans. After the harvest they will be IMPRISONED for six months, and

every third day will be given NOTHING BUT BREAD AND WATER.

(2) Lazy women will be obliged to work, and after the harvest receive



The Commandant Reserves the Right to Punish Lazy Workmen with 20 Lashes


What a contrast to the proclamation of General Allenby when the English

captured Jerusalem whereby the inhabitants were guaranteed protection

in carrying on their business, and all homes and buildings were to be

safeguarded. When following the armistice the American soldiers

occupied German cities, the Germans were surprised to find that they

were in no wise punished or prevented from going about their regular


As a result of the World War, Italy recovered the unredeemed provinces,

and just before the signing of the armistice, she redeemed herself in

war by wiping out the memory of her humiliating defeat about a year

earlier at Caporetto.

The Italian war office in its official report of this second battle of

the Piave says in substance the following:--

The war against Austria-Hungary which under the supreme direction of

the king, the commander-in-chief of the Italian army, began May 24,

1915, and which since then, with inferior numbers and material, has

been conducted with unflagging faith and constant valor for forty-one

months has been won.

The gigantic battle of October 24 is victoriously ended. Fifty-one

Italian divisions, three British, two French, one Czechoslovak, and one

American regiment fought against sixty-three Austro-Hungarian divisions.

The Austro-Hungarian army is destroyed. It suffered very heavy losses

in the fierce resistance of the first days of the battle, and in

retreat it lost an immense quantity of material of all kinds, nearly

all its stores and depots, and has left in our hands over 300,000

prisoners, with their commands complete, and not less than 5,000 guns.

The defeat has left what was one of the most powerful armies in the

world in disorder and without hope of returning along the valleys

through which it advanced with proud assurance.

Church bells were rung all over Italy and parades and celebrations were

held in all the large cities.

President Wilson sent on November 4 the following message to the King

of Italy:--

May I not say how deeply and sincerely the people of the United States

rejoice that the soil of Italy is delivered from her enemies? In their

name I send your Majesty and the great Italian people the most

enthusiastic congratulations.


During the war, Italy called to the colors from a male population of

only 17,000,000 nearly 5,500,000 men and suffered a loss of almost

1,000,000 of them. It is estimated that the nation's man power

suffered a permanent loss of over half a million.

But serious as is this loss, Italy inflicted an even greater punishment

upon the foe. In Austrian prisoners alone she captured over a million.

The Austrian loss in killed and wounded was doubtless far greater than


Over 2500 miles of roads were constructed on the mountains of Italy and

Albania, and 1000 miles of aerial cable railroads were built to carry

food, ammunition, and guns over deep ravines.

Italy's fighters and industrial workers accomplished their work with an

inadequate supply of materials and food that meant real and continuous

suffering such as probably was felt by no other of the warring peoples.


We will never bring disgrace to this, our city, by any act of

dishonesty or cowardice, nor ever desert our suffering comrades in the

ranks. We will fight for the ideals and sacred things of the city,

both alone and with many; we will revere and obey the city's laws and

do our best to incite a like respect and reverence in those above us

who are prone to annul or to set them at naught; we will strive

unceasingly to quicken the public's sense of civic duty. Thus in all

these ways we will transmit this city not only not less but greater,

better and more beautiful than it was transmitted to us.

The Oath of the Athenian Youth.