Italy in World War One

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  • Created on: 23-05-16 11:05

The Intervention Crisis

In 1914, Italy declared itself neutral. This cause a crisis in the liberal party.

They knew if they joined on one side, they would be in trouble if they loose, and if they stayed neutral they would not gain anything from the war.

In January 1915, Salandra began secret negotiations with both sides to see who would offer them the best deal. Not even the army generals were informed of the plans.

Britain offered them South Tyrol, Trentino, Istria, Trieste and most of Dalmatia. This led to the signing of the Treaty of London in April 1915. Italy pledged to support the Entente in the war against Germany and Austro-Hungarian Empire.

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The Intervention Crisis Cont.

The PSI and most catholcis were agaisnt the war, including the pope.

Prefects reported that there was little support for the war from the people, who said they did not care for irredentism or a war against Austria. Most even said they feared war.

In May 1915, Giolliti denounced the Treaty of London and 300 deputies did the same. Those backing neutrality called for Salandra to resign and Giolitti to become PM.

Massive crowds supporting both sides filled the streets.

Salandra resigned and then was reinstated and through emergency powers given to him on the 25 May 1914, Italy formally declared war against Austria. Salandra said 'only through national unity could Italy claim victory against its enemies'

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The Military Stalemate

Salandra hoped for a brief war which would give him immediate terrtorial gain. How wrong he was.

The war was fought mainly in the mountainous regions bordering the two countries, which caused a static trench warfare in the ice and snow of the difficult alpine terrain.

Thousands of Italians were killed through frostbite and cholera.

In 1915, 62000 Italians died during four attempted offensives against the Austrians that failed to change the situation at the front.

Nearlly 5 million men were conscripted into the army.

Southern Italians made up the bulk of the conscrips and most could not understand the orders they were being given.

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The Military Stalemate Cont.

By the end of 1916, soldiers were living on 3000 collaries a day.

290000 soldiers were court-marshalled during the war for desertion.

Military tribunals passed 4000 death sentences on Italian soldiers for desertion and indiscipline.

600000 Italian soldiers were captured and survived on 1000 calories a day. Around 100000 died of hunger-related illnesses, five times the number from France and Britain who could recieve food parcels from home.

Those that survived the PoW Camps developed a strong hatred towards the liberal government with a feeling of abandonment and betrayal.

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The Military Stalemate Cont.

By the end of 1916, soldiers were living on 3000 collaries a day.

290000 soldiers were court-marshalled during the war for desertion.

Military tribunals passed 4000 death sentences on Italian soldiers for desertion and indiscipline.

600000 Italian soldiers were captured and survived on 1000 calories a day. Around 100000 died of hunger-related illnesses, five times the number from France and Britain who could recieve food parcels from home.

Those that survived the PoW Camps developed a strong hatred towards the liberal government with a feeling of abandonment and betrayal.

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Defeat at Caporetto

In October 1917, Italy suffered a humiliating defeat by the Austro-Hungarian forces at Caporetto in October 1917.

On the 24 October 1917, Austrial forces attacked the Italian front line.

The Italian army dissolved in the face of the enemy and Italy performed a chaotic retreat.

10000 Italians were killed

30000 Italians wounded

300000 Italians taken prisoner

400000 Italians simply went missing, most used the chaos to go home.

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Caporetto - A Turning Point

Thoughts turned from expansion to survival.

The overall Italian state and army did not collapse. Salandra resigned and was replaced.

Rations for soldiers were raised and annual leave increased. The army was reorganised under General Diaz. Morale was boosed through lectures and newspapers.

In December 1917, and organisation was set up to look after the welfare of soldiers and their families.

Diaz focused on holding the line rather then pushing it forward. There were no suicide missions.

In 1917, 520000 soldiers were killed. In 1918, there were 143000 deaths. This was due to the more cautious commanders of the army.

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Socialist Response to the War

The PSI continued to oppose the war. They voted against anything war related in parliament. They declared a policy of 'neither support nor sabotage'.

Nationalists and Liberals saw it as defeatist, unpatriotic and anti-Italian.

The hysteria after Caporetto led to the arrest of many PSI leaders who showed a defeatist attitude.

The PSI's position on the war meant a greter polarisation between the left and the right in Italian Politics.

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The War Economy

At the beginning of the war, Italy was behind Austria in nearly all key economic areas crucial for war.

Steel Production -Less then one million tonnes, whilst the Austrians were at 2.6 million.

Machine Guns -For every 2 machine guns per Itallian Battalion, the Austrians had 12. Italy was also short of artillery and bullets.

However overall industry coped well with the war.

Fiat -Produced 250000 vehicles in 1918 alone. That is more then Britain produced as a whole.

Planes -Italy produced 6500 planes in 1918.

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The War Economy

At the beginning of the war, Italy was behind Austria in nearly all key economic areas crucial for war.

Steel Production -Less then one million tonnes, whilst the Austrians were at 2.6 million.

Machine Guns -For every 2 machine guns per Itallian Battalion, the Austrians had 12. Italy was also short of artillery and bullets.

However overall industry coped well with the war.

Fiat -Produced 250000 vehicles in 1918 alone. That is more then Britain produced as a whole.

Planes -Italy produced 6500 planes in 1918.

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The War Economy Cont.

By the end of the war, Italy had produced 20000 machine guns and 7000 pieces of heavy artillery. This was a greater number than the British were able to.

Alfredo Dallolio organised the recruitment of women and peasants into the factories and ensured those men deemed essential to war were exempt from conscription.

Hours of work were increased, strikes made illegal and workers could face military tribunals if their work was unsatisfactory.

A quarter of all munitions factory employers were women.

A third of Italy's 900000 workers in the war economy were either men exempted from military service or on secondment from the army.

Fiat- Increased its workforce from 6000 to 30000.

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The War Economy Cont.

The Government organised cheap loans, payments in advance and made contracts profitable for big businesses.

There was little Government interference in industry and industrialists ran the central and regional committees forindustrial mobilisation.

The trouble is, this growth was basied enitrely on government investment in war production, which had been paid for by foreign loans and printing more money.

Before the war, the government was 2.9 billion lire in debt. By 1918, it was 23 billion lire in debt.

National debt was at 84.9 billion lire in June 1919, with 15 billion lire owed to Britain and 8.5 billion to the United States.

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The War Economy Cont.

By 1917, bread and pasta were being rationed. Meat and sugar consumption was falling sharply.

Real wages fell 25% as industrialists made more profits.

Indirect taxes rose to pay for the war.

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Victory

After Vittorio Veneto, Italy declared victory.

On November 4 1918, the Austrio-Hungarian empire signed peace.

650000 people died during the war.

The economy was even more greatly distorted between north and south.

The Government had to try and fulfill the promises made to the peasants during the war.

Returning soldiers wanted compensation for the sacrifices they made.

Many Italians felt the war would require major change. The Government was in a difficult position in 1919.

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The Mutilated Victory

Through the Treaty of London, Italy was promised Triste, Dodecanese Islands, Northern Dalmationa, South Tyrol.

There was growing conflict between those that fought and those that did not.

Southern conscripts occupied hundreds of thousands of hectars of land.

Orlando argued that Italy should be given the full territory promised, however the allies did not think that their contribution warrented this.

Orlando walked out of the conference in April 1919. This was met by joy in Italy, but Britain and France then split up Germany's African colonies.

Orlando returned in May and he was ignored. He resigned in June.

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The Mutilated Victory Cont

Italy did get Trent and Triste, Istria and Northern Dalmatia. Its failure to get the port of Fiume and any colonial territory undermined the liberal government

Nitti was Orlando's replacement. He played down Italy's demands in order to get money and coal they desperatly needed to try and repair their economy.

He reduced military spending and issued an amnesy to those who deserted during WWI.

Nationalists and the Military called Nitti an abject coward.

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The Occupation of Fiume

d'Annunzio led the claims of mutilated victory after the war.

On 12 September 1919, he took 2000 ex soldiers, futurists, students and patriots and marched into Fiume.

He declared it a state in its own right.

Historian Mitchell said it was a 'mixture of manifestors, harangues, fireworks, pageants, military concerts and overstretched nerves'

It took until December 1920 and the new Government of Giolitti to march into Fiume.

It remained a free city until Mussolini took it in 1923.

d'Annunzio paved the way for Mussolini to take control of Italy

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Post-War Crisis

November 1919 - Unemployment at 2 million

The two major munitions companies collapsed in 1921 (Ansaldo and Ilva), causing a banking crisis.

Membership of Trade Unions 1918 - 250000. 1920 - 2 million

Railway strikes in Jan 1920, telegraph workers strikes in April. Army strikes in July.

September 1920, 400000 workers went out on mass strikes. They took control of factories, flying the communist flag and the black falgs of anarchism for 4 weeks.

Italy went into a recession in late 1920.

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Political Reforms

Italy held parliamentary elections in 1919.

The amount of people able to vote rose 11 million people from the last election.

PR Voting system.

Catholic PPI formed in 1919. - Not officially connected to the Vatican and no mention of the Roman Question.

The PSI grew in power. It went into a more radical direction and refused to work with the liberals.

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1919 Elections

PSI - 156 Deputies (3 Times more then 1913)

PPI - 101 Deputies (First time they competed in elections)

Sadly, neither party had a majortiy and so the old liberals remained in control, putting together several coalitions between 1919 and 1922.

This was a lost oppurtunity for democracy.

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