Italy and World War 1

Italy at war part 1

Triple Alliance with Germany and Austria-Hungary 1882- it committed Italy to support Germany and Austria Hungary 

Italian government declared the alliance as defunct > believed Austria Hungary had broken the terms of the treaty by a) spreading territory into the Balkans b) attacking Serbia without consulting Italy- many Italian's are hostile to Austria-Hungary which still occupied terrtories inhabited by Italian speakers (Trentino and Istria) 

Intervention crisis 

Neutrality> most italians satisfied with neutrality (some liberals like Giolitti, most catholics and socialists and most of the army) > they believed that Italy was not ready for war and it could be detrimental for Italy's economy 

Support for the war> Liberals like Antonio Salandra (succeeded Giolitti as PM 1914-16), government believed that they shuld intervent and negotiate with both sides to obtain the best terms for joining either triple alliance or entente > encouraged demands from Nationalist press that Italy must grasp the chance to become a great power 

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Italy at war part 2

Intervention crisis (continued)

Austria-Hungary willing to make territorial concessions that would not include the italian speaking areas of Trentino and Trieste but the Entente ( Britain, France and Russia) promised Italy would recieve a) Trentino and Trieste and other Austrian lands in the southern Tyrol, Istria and Dalmatia > this would mean that the Italian kingdom would dominate the Adriatic sea b) also promise further territory in Africa or eastern Mediterrenean. 

Italy signed the Treaty of London May 1915 


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Impact of war

Catholics - supported the war and believed it would activley denounce Catholic Austria/ Socialists condemned the conflict as a capitalist war 

5 million men served (mainly conscripted)- many came from rurual areas/ industrial working class was involved in producing war material (exempt from military service) endured a) low pay b) miserable ration c) bad conditions on front line 

Italian army fighting a war of attrition (war in which commanders do not expect dramatic victories but hope to win by slowly wearing down their opponents) on the Alpine front line 

after two years Battle of Caporetto 70,00 Italians retreated for over 150km until the line was helf at the River Plave- 300,000 italians taken as prisoners 

Nationalists blamed the government for inefficiently running the war and in supplying the troops> the Government blamed Cadorna (army's commander in chief who blamed the defeat on the cowardice of the army) 

by 1918- shortage of food and munitions combinedwith general war weariness to weaken the resolve of the Austrian Hungary and Germany

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End of World war 1

october- Germany reeled from an Anglo-French offensive, italians attacked the Austrians - italians lost 40,00 men killed or wounded 

Austrians will to resist collapsed and the Italians found themselves in possession of about 500,000 prisoners of war > Battle of Vittorio Veneto (caused Austria to sue for peace) 24th of October - 3 November 1918 

Armistice signed 3 November 1918 

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Economic and political effects of the World War 1

the war enhanced Italy's claims as a Great Power 

human cost of war = 650,000 men and a milion more wounded 

financial costs = placed heavy burden on Italian treasury. Huge sums borrowed from Britain and America > national debt from 16 billion lire in 1914 to 85 billion lire in 1919 .> borrowings proved insufficient to pay back borrowings and the government resorted to printing money 

inflation destroyed savings (hit the middle class), landowners relying on rets and state employees ( whose wages did not keep up with increasing prices ) also suffered - purchasing power of wages fell by about 25% between 1915 and 1918 

industrial disputes increased as the war ended> workers who resented longer hours, fall in real wages caused by inflation and ban on industrial action vented their frustration 

During 1919 over a million workers took part in striked - membershhip of Socialist trade unions increased to quarter of a million in 1918 to 2 million in 1920

soldiers had no jobs to return to - underemployment increased to over 2 million during 1919 

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Socialist threat

PSI membership rose from 50,000 in 1914 to about 200,000 by 1919 

abandoned their long term commitment to gradual reform that Giolitti had tried to encourage pre-WW1- now advocated revolution (inspired by russian revolution of 1917) 

socialists called for overthrow of liberal state > goals was to establish a 'socialist republic' and 'the dictatorship of proletariat (industrial and working classes) where private businesses and landed estates would be confiscated and wealth shared 

elections in 1919- socialists swepth through the northern cities- secured 32.4% of the national vote and won 156 seats > was now single group in the Italian government 

middle class italian feared that a Bolsheik style seizure of power was immenient - liberals failed to crush the socialists > the government under Nitti was urging industralists to make concessions to workers

landowners were appaled by the government's failure to prevent the spread of revolution to the countryside. > agricultural labourers were joining socialist trade unions (particulalry in the province of Emilia Romangna) and began to demand higher wages and guaranteed employement 

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Mutiliated Victory

Nationalists considered the liberals as weak and incompotent- convinced that the government would fail to defend Italian interests at the Paris peace conference 1919. 

they demanded: 

- italy should receive territories agreed with the Entente in 1915 (southern tyrol, istria,parts of  dalmatia and trentino and also the city of Fiume on the border of Istria. 

Br and France refused to give Italy Fiume because the city was vital to the economy of the new Yugoslav state. (nationalists blamed liberals weakness) . 

also apparent italy would be denied Dalmatia > only a few italians live there and would not share in the division of German colonies in Africa

Many Nationalists felt that Italy's sacrifices had only won a mutilated victory ( claim that Italy had been denied its rightful territorial gains in the peace settlement after WW1 

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Seizure of Fiume

September 1919 (nationalist) D'Annuzio led 2000 armed men into Fiume and occupied in definace of the Italian govenrment 

showed to nationalists supporters that this was the Italy they wanted to create

this is signfiicant in portraying the demise of the liberal government because the liberal government lacked the will to end the occupation 

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