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Italy declares war on Austria-Hungary

Italy declares war on Austria-Hungary



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On May 23, 1915, Italy declares war on Austria-Hungary, entering World War I on the side of the Allies—Britain, France and Russia.

When World War I broke out in the summer of 1914, Italy declared itself neutral in the conflict, despite its membership in the so-called Triple Alliance alongside Germany and Austria-Hungary since 1882. Over the course of the months that followed, Italy and its leaders weighed their options; wooed by both sides, they carefully considered how to gain the greatest benefit from participation in the war. The decision to join the fray on the side of the Allies was based largely on the assurances Italy received in the Treaty of London, signed in April 1915. By its terms, Italy would receive the fulfillment of its national dream: control over territory on its border with Austria-Hungary stretching from Trentino through the South Tyrol to Trieste. In addition, the Allies promised the Italians parts of Dalmatia and numerous islands along Austria-Hungary’s Adriatic coast; the Albanian port city of Vlore (Italian: Valona) and a central protectorate in Albania; and territory from the Ottoman Empire.

On May 23, 1915, Italy declared war on Austria-Hungary. The Italian declaration opened up a new front in World War I, stretching 600 kilometers—most of them mountainous—along Italy’s border with Austria-Hungary. Italy—which had become a unified nation only as recently as 1859—was, like Russia, not yet a fully industrialized power. It was certainly not prepared for large-scale warfare, and although it managed to mobilize 1.2 million men in the spring of 1915, it possessed equipment for just 732,000. Upon declaring war, the Italian army immediately advanced into the South Tyrol region and to the Isonzo River, where Austro-Hungarian troops met them with a stiff defense. The snowy and treacherous terrain made the region poorly suited to offensive operations, and after several quick Italian successes, combat settled into a stalemate.

By late 1917, the Austrians and Italians had fought no fewer than 11 battles along the Isonzo River, with negligible progress and heavy losses on both sides. In late October 1917, German intervention to help Austria-Hungary resulted in a spectacular victory over the Italians in the Battle of Caporetto (also known as the Twelfth Battle of the Isonzo), during which Italian forces suffered some 300,000 casualties (90 percent of which were prisoners) and were forced to retreat. The defeat sparked a crisis in Italy, prompting the dismissal of the army’s chief of staff, Luigi Cadorna, his replacement with Armando Diaz, and the formation of a coalition government under Prime Minister Vittorio Orlando. After Caporetto, Italy’s allies jumped in to offer increased assistance, as British and French—and later American—troops soon arrived in the region, and the Allies began to take back the initiative.

By the time fighting ended on the Italian front on November 4, 1918—a week before the general armistice—615,000 Italians had been killed in action or died of wounds sustained in World War I. In the ensuing peace negotiations in Paris, the Italian government struggled against great opposition from the other Allied leaders to see that they were given all they had been promised in the Treaty of London. At one point in the negotiations, the entire Italian delegation walked out of the peace conference, returning only days later. Though Italy would eventually receive control of the Tyrol and a permanent seat on the newly formed international peace-keeping organization, the League of Nations, many within the country were dissatisfied with their lot and continued to nurse resentments of the other Allied powers—resentments that would later drive the success of Benito Mussolini and his fascist movement.

READ MORE: World War II: Causes and Timeline


Italy Declares War on Austria-Hungary

Though Italy did not enter the war arena as an active participant until May 24, 1915, from the very beginning she had dedicated herself, heart and soul, to the cause of human liberty. On August 2, 1914, three days before England declared war on Germany, and at the very moment of Austria's attack on Serbia, Italy nobly renounced her alliance with Germany and Austria, boldly declaring her neutrality, and proclaiming to the whole world her abhorrence of Teuton brutality.

The fate of France, of civilization itself, depended upon Italy's decision. Had Italy cringed before the might of Germany, France must have regarded her as a potential foe, and felt the necessity of protecting her Southern frontier with a force of 1,000,000 men.

After severing her unnatural bonds with Austria and Germany, Italy at once gave France the full assurance of her friendship, enabling France confidently to withdraw her troops from the Italian frontier and array them against Germany in the glorious Battle of the Marne, where the fate of Europe was decided.

Thus Italy, though nominally neutral, rendered military and moral aid of the supremest value to the cause of liberty, freedom, and justice. Without that moral aid which Italy extended to France, defeat instead of victory might have resulted at the Marne and the world have been subjugated by the German barbarians.

How Italy Became Germany's Ally

Italy had become the unwilling partner of Germany and Austria in 1879 from humiliating necessity. Following the wars for Italian independence, she was hemmed in by enemy states. Her relations with France had been embittered by the French seizure of Tunisia, to which Italy aspired.

Germany was threatening to disrupt the new kingdom by restoring Rome to the Pope, and plotting to open wide the breach between France and Italy which had been caused by the infamous treaty of Campoforma in 1797. Italy, too, had much to fear from Prussian and Austrian aggression in the Balkans. Germany, on her part, had observed the growing friendship of England, France, and Russia which developed soon after, into the entente alliance.

Feeling the necessity of a counter-alliance that should serve to curb the power of France in the Mediterranean, Germany decided to invite Italy into partnership with herself and Austria. It was really coercion on the part of Gel-many, for had Italy declined the invitation, she might have been snuffed out of existence on some pretext or other. Italy, therefore, consented under duress to this unnatural alliance with her ancient enemies.

Austria and Germany Betray Italy

Since 1879 Germany and Austria had repeatedly betrayed their ally, Italy. The most flagrant of all these betrayals was the seizure of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in 1908. It had been definitely stipulated, as a condition of the alliance, that the Allies should exchange information concerning relations with other powers. Austria violated her solemn agreement, by seizing the two Balkan kingdoms without notifying her ally, Italy, of her intentions.

Austria persistently fomented trouble in the Balkans without consulting Italy. Thus she selected a ruler for the Kingdom of Albania compelled Serbia to relinquish an outlet upon the Adriatic Sea forced Montenegro to yield the port of Scutari, and arranged the frontier between Serbia and Greece, all without consultation with her ally.

Invasion of Italy Proposed

Austria's supremest act of treachery toward her ally, Italy, occurred after the Great Messina earthquake, at a time when Italy was wrapped in mourning.

Gen. Conrad von Hoetzendorff, Chief-of- Staff of the Austrian Army, proposed the invasion of Italy, and his infamous proposal was actually supported, by the Emperor Franz Joseph and the Crown Prince Frederick Ferdinand, who was later assassinated at Serajevo. Happily, the wanton attack upon Italy was successfully opposed by Chancellor von Aerenthal.

Italy's seizure of Tripoli and Cyranesia from the Turks in 1911 was prompted by knowledge of Germany's preparations to take those territories. Germany, throughout that war secretly aided the Turks to overthrow her ally!

It remained for Austria to cap the climax of her treachery when she served her fatal ultimatum upon Serbia on July 23, 1914, without consulting Italy or announcing her intentions to her ally. Germany, too, after Italy had declared her neutrality in the World War, roused Tripolitania to rebellion against Italy.

Germany Seeks to Bribe Italy

It will ever redound to the glory of Italy that she spurned the tremendous bribe proffered by Germany to secure her continued neutrality, and instead nobly threw herself into the struggle for freedom at a time when the Allies were on the brink of disaster. Russia had collapsed, the Western line was bending under the German pressure, the U-boats had begun to take their toll of ships, Eng land had not yet placed a tenth of her forces in the field, the Allied cause was in dire straits, when Italy entered the struggle.

Italy was unprepared for war in 1914. She had just emerged from her war with Turkey in Libya. Her military stores were therefore exhausted, her artillery depleted, her armies disbanded and her finances in a critical state. In a military sense, she was helpless. To have joined the Allies at that time would have meant national suicide. Instead of aiding, she would have injured the cause of her future Allies. Austria then would have conquered Italy in a short campaign.

Italy, therefore, chose the safer course she declared her neutrality, secretly assured France of her friendship and made hasty preparations for inevitable participation in the great struggle.

German Propaganda in Italy

The German and Austrian intriguants, however, were tirelessly seeking to buy the support of the nation. Italian newspapers were bribed to conduct a campaign of pacifism Socialists were bribed to advocate the continuance of neutrality. Baron von Buelow, a gifted German diplomat, offered the supreme bribe to Italy, if she would remain neutral.

The greater part of the Trentino was to be restored to Italy Trieste was to be proclaimed as a free city certain islands off the Dalmatian Coast were to be surrendered : concessions along the Eastern frontier were to be made Austria would recognize Italian sovereignty in Vallona and withdraw from Albanian affairs.

To All these seductive offers Italy turned a deaf ear. The cry of martyred Belgium, the appeal of ravished France, the stifled cries of tortured humanity, aroused her spiritual indignation. At the proper time she would enter the War and fight for human liberty.

Aside from her purely altruistic reasons for striking a blow at the Teutons, Italy had a secondary motive, the redemption of the lost provinces, "Italia Irredenta," torn from her by Austria. The Italian people in these provinces had been the victims of unspeakable atrocities, at the hands of the Austrians.

Within 50 years, the Austrians had punished their rebellious Italian subjects by soaking their bodies in turpentine and burning them alive had crucified children buried patriots in quicklime and put to death hundreds for trivial political causes. Italy had not forgotten these martyrs.

Italy's aspirations, once she entered the War for liberty, were for the freedom of her own enslaved peoples in the Lost Provinces as well as the other martyred races of earth. As her inalienable right, she demanded a pledge that, if successful in the War, the Allies should restore her Lost Provinces.

Austria had done all in her power to denaturalize the Italian provinces by colonizing Croatians and Germans, Prussianizing the schools and subjugating the people, but her efforts proved futile. Trieste, Trentino, Venetia, Dalmatia, all remain as essentially Italian today as they had been Roman for 1900 years previously.

Another vital reason for demanding the retrocession of Italy's provinces, lay in the fact that Istria alone had several excellent seaports, while the Italian shore of the Adriatic Sea is without a single first-class harbor. While Istria remained in foreign possession, just so long was an Austrian knife poised over the heart of Italy. It was stipulated, therefore, that the harbors of Trieste and Fiume especially should be restored to Italy.

A wave of spiritual indignation swept Italy when the facts of the atrocities in Belgium and France first became known. The warm heart of Italy clamored for war. But before Italy could enter the War unitedly, certain political obstacles must first be removed. Giolitti, the former Premier, and perhaps the most powerful politician in Italy, controlled the lower branch of the legislature. He was both a strong neutralist, and a particular friend of the Austrian Ambassador, Buelow.

On May 10, 1915, Giolitti appeared before the Assembly, protesting against war with Austria-Hungary. The Assembly seemed on the point of acceding to his demands. Premier Balandra at once resigned his office. In this crisis, the Italian people took control of the situation. Popular demonstrations occurred on every hand.

On May 15, 1915, in obedience to King Victor Emmanuel's request, Premier Salandra resumed his office. Five days later the Assembly passed a vote of confidence in the ministry, the count standing 407 to 72.

The final step was taken on May 23, 1915, when the Italian Chamber of Deputies, by a vote of 407 to 74, decreed that beginning with the following day, May 24, 1915, Italy would consider herself in a state of war with Austria-Hungary.

On May 23, 1915, Italy declared war on Austria-Hungary. The Italian declaration opened up a new front in World War I, stretching 600 kilometers—most of them mountainous—along Italy’s border with Austria-Hungary. Italy—which had become a unified nation only as recently as 1859—was, like Russia, not yet a fully industrialized power. It was certainly not prepared for large-scale warfare, and although it managed to mobilize 1.2 million men in the spring of 1915, it possessed equipment for just 732,000. Upon declaring war, the Italian army immediately advanced into the South Tyrol region and to the Isonzo River, where Austro-Hungarian troops met them with a stiff defense. The snowy and treacherous terrain made the region poorly suited to offensive operations, and after several quick Italian successes, combat settled into a stalemate.


The country, whose independence has ancient origins, claims to be the world's oldest surviving republic. According to legend, San Marino was founded in 301 AD [1] when a Christian stonemason Marinus (lit. from the sea), later venerated as Saint Marinus, emigrated in 297 AD from Dalmatian island of Rab, when Emperor Diocletian issued a decree calling for the reconstruction of the city walls of Rimini, destroyed by Liburnian pirates. [1] Marinus later became a Deacon and was ordained by Gaudentius, the Bishop of Rimini shortly after, he was "recognised" and accused by an insane woman of being her estranged husband, whereupon he quickly fled to Monte Titano to build a chapel and monastery and live as a hermit. [2] Later, the State of San Marino would bud from the centre created by this monastery. [2] Living in geographical isolation from the Diocletianic Persecution of Christians at the time, the mountain people were able to live peaceful lives. When this settlement of "refugee" mountain people was eventually discovered, the owner of the land, Felicissima, a sympathetic lady of Rimini, bequeathed it to the small Christian community of mountain dwellers, recommending to them to remain always united. [ citation needed ]

Evidence of the existence of a community on Mount Titano dates back to the Middle Ages. That evidence comes from a monk named Eugippio, who reports in several documents going back to 511 that another monk lived here. In memory of the stonecutter, the land was renamed "Land of San Marino", and was changed to its present-day name, "Republic of San Marino". [ citation needed ]

Later papers from the 9th century report a well organized, open and proud community: the writings report that the bishop ruled this territory. [ citation needed ]

In Lombard age, San Marino was a fief of Dukes of Spoleto (linked to Papal States), but the free comune dates to the tenth century. [ citation needed ]

The original government structure was composed of a self-governed assembly known as the Arengo, which consisted of the heads of each family (as in the original Roman Senate, the Patres). In 1243, the positions of Captains Regent (Capitani Reggenti) were established to be the joint heads of state. The state's earliest statutes date back to 1263. The Holy See confirmed the independence of San Marino in 1631. [3]

In quick succession, the lords of Montefeltro, the Malatesta of Rimini, and the lords of Urbino attempted to conquer the little town, but without success. [4] In 1320 the community of Chiesanuova chose to join the country. [5] The land area of San Marino consisted only of Mount Titano until 1463, at which time the republic entered into an alliance against Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta, duke of Rimini, who was later defeated. As a result, Pope Pius II gave San Marino some castles and the towns of Fiorentino, Montegiardino and Serravalle. Later that year, the town of Faetano joined the republic on its own accord. Since then, the size of San Marino has remained unchanged. [6]

San Marino has been occupied by foreign militaries three times in its history, each for only a short period of time. Two of these periods were in the feudal era. In 1503, Cesare Borgia occupied the Republic until the death of his father some months later. [7]

On June 4, 1543 Fabiano di Monte San Savino, nephew of the later Pope Julius III, attempted to conquer the republic in a plan involving 500 infantry men and some cavalry. The group failed as they got lost in a dense fog, which the Sammarinese attributed to Saint Quirinus, whose feast day it was, and which afterwards has been celebrated annually in the country. [8]

San Marino faced many potential threats during the feudal period, so a treaty of protection was signed in 1602 with Pope Clement VIII, which came into force in 1631. [9]

On October 17, 1739, Cardinal Giulio Alberoni, Papal Governor of Ravenna, used military force to occupy the country, imposed a new constitution, and endeavored to force the Sammarinesi to submit to the government of the Papal States. [4] He was aiding certain rebels, and acting possibly contrary to the orders of Pope Clement XII. However, civil disobedience occurred, and clandestine notes were written to the Pope to appeal for justice. On February 5, 1740, 3.5 months after the occupation began, the Pope recognized San Marino's rights, restoring independence. February 5, is the feast day of Saint Agatha, after which she became a patron saint of San Marino. [10]

The basis of San Marino's government is the multi-document Constitution of San Marino, the first components of which were promulgated and became effective on 1 September 1600. Whether these documents amount to a written constitution depends upon how one defines the term. The political scientist Jorri Duursma claims that "San Marino does not have an official constitution as such. The first legal documents which mentioned San Marino's institutional organs were the Statutes of 1600." [11] [12] [13]

After Napoleon's campaign of Italy, San Marino found itself on the border between the Kingdom of Italy and long-time ally the Papal States. On February 5, 1797, when, with the arrival of a letter from General Louis Alexandre Berthier addressed to the Regents, it was required to arrest and consign the Bishop of Rimini, Monsignor Vincenzo Ferretti, accused of instigating crimes against the French Empire, who fled with all his possessions to San Marino and refusal would result in the immediate intervention of French troops. [ citation needed ]

The Government of San Marino replied that it would do everything possible to fulfil the request, even though, in reality, the bishop was able to flee across the border. [ citation needed ]

A solution was found by one of the Regents, Antonio Onofri, who inspired in Napoleon a friendship and respect toward the sovereign state. Napoleon was won to the commonality in cause with the ideals of liberty and humanity extolled in San Marino's humble founding and wrote in recognition of its cultural value in a letter to Gaspard Monge, scientist and commissary of the French Government for the Sciences and the Arts who was at the time stationed in Italy [14] further promising to guarantee and protect the independence of the Republic even so far as offering to extend its territory according to its needs. While grateful for the former, the offer of territorial expansion was politely declined by San Marino. [15]

Napoleon issued orders that exempted San Marino's citizens from any type of taxation and gave them 1,000 quintals (over 2,200 lb or 1,000 kg) of wheat as well as four cannons although for unknown reasons, the cannons were ultimately never brought into San Marino. [16]

The mystery behind Napoleon's treatment of San Marino may be better understood in light of the ongoing French Revolution (1789–1799) where France was undergoing drastic political reform. At this time, the Republic of San Marino and the recently established First French Republic (est. 1792) would have been ideologically aligned. [ citation needed ]

The state was recognized by Napoleon by the Treaty of Tolentino, in 1797 and by the Congress of Vienna in 1815. In 1825 and 1853, new attempts to submit it to the Papal States failed and its wish to be left out of Giuseppe Garibaldi's Italian unification in the mid-nineteenth century was honoured by Giuseppe in gratitude for indiscriminately taking in refugees in years prior, many of whom were supporters of unification, including Giuseppe himself and 250 followers. Although faced with many hardships (with his wife Anita who was carrying their fifth child dying near Comacchio before they could reach the refuge), the hospitality received by Giuseppe in San Marino would later prove to be a shaping influence on Giuseppe's diplomatic manner, presaging the themes and similar language used in his political correspondences such as his letter to Joseph Cowen. [17]

In the spring of 1861, shortly before the beginning of the American Civil War, the government of San Marino wrote a letter (in "perfect Italian on one side, and imperfect but clear English on the other" [18] ) to United States President Abraham Lincoln, proposing an "alliance" between the two democratic nations and offering the President honorary San Marino citizenship. Lincoln accepted the offer, writing (with his Secretary of State, William H. Seward) in reply that San Marino proved that "government founded on republican principles is capable of being so administered as to be secure and enduring." [19] Presaging a theme he would bring to the fore, using similar language, in his Gettysburg Address in 1863, Lincoln wrote: "You have kindly adverted to the trial through which this Republic is now passing. It is one of deep import. It involves the question whether a Representative republic, extended and aggrandized so much as to be safe against foreign enemies can save itself from the dangers of domestic faction. I have faith in a good result. " [18]

After the unification of the Kingdom of Italy a treaty in 1862 confirmed San Marino's independence. It was revised in 1872. [ citation needed ]

Towards the end of the 19th century, San Marino experienced economic depression: a large increase in the birth rate coupled with a widening of the gap between agricultural and industrial development led people to seek their fortunes in more industrialised countries. [ citation needed ] The Sammarinese first sought seasonal employment in Tuscany, Rome, Genoa and Trieste, but in the latter half of the century whole families were uprooted, with the first permanent migrations to the Americas (United States, Argentina and Uruguay) and to Greece, Germany and Austria. [ citation needed ] This phenomenon lasted up to the 1870s, with a pause during the First World War and an increase during the Fascist period in Italy. Even today there are still large concentrations of San Marino citizens residing in foreign countries, above all, in the United States, in France and in Argentina. There are more than 15,000 San Marino citizens spread throughout the world. [20]

An important turning-point in the political and social life of the country took place on March 25, 1906, when the Arengo met out of 1,054 heads of family, 805 were present. [21] Each head of family received a ballot which contained two questions: the first asking if the Government of San Marino should be headed by a Principal and Sovereign Council, and the second, if the number of members of the Council should be proportionate between the city population and the rural population. This was the first move towards a referendum and true democracy in San Marino. In the past, similar attempts were made by people such as Pietro Franciosi, but without results. In the same year a second referendum took place on May 5 dealing with the first electoral laws and on June 10 the first political elections in San Marino's history resulted in a victory of the exponents of democracy. [1]

While Italy declared war on Austria-Hungary on 23 May 1915, San Marino remained neutral. Italy, suspecting that San Marino could harbour Austrian spies who could be given access to its new radiotelegraph station, tried to forcefully establish a detachment of Carabinieri on its territory and then suspended any telephone connections with the Republic when it did not comply.

Two groups of 10 volunteers each did join Italian forces in the fighting on the Italian front, the first as combatants and the second as a medical corps operating a Red Cross field hospital. It was the presence of this hospital that later caused Austrian authorities to suspend diplomatic relations with San Marino. [22]

Although propaganda articles appeared in The New York Times as early as 4 June 1915 claiming that San Marino declared war on Austria-Hungary, [23] the republic never entered the war. [24]

San Marino in the 1920s, still a largely agrarian society, experienced political turmoil influenced by the events in Fascist Italy, culminating in June 1921 in the murder in Serravalle of Italian doctor and Fascist sympathiser Carlo Bosi by local leftists, which led to condemnation by the surrounding Italian population and threats of retaliation by Italian squadristi. The government decided to ask Italy for help in the form of a detachment of 30 Carabinieri. As in Italy, Fascism eventually took over government of the Republic, the Sammarinese Fascist Party causing the Socialist newspaper Nuovo Titano to cease publication.

The 1930s was an era of public works and reinvention of the Republic's economy, with the construction of the San Marino-Rimini railway that connected it to the Italian railway network and modernization of the country's infrastructures that paved the way to its present status as a major tourist destination. [25]

San Marino was mostly uninvolved in the Second World War. In September 1940, press reports claimed that it had to have declared war on Britain in support of Italy [26] however, this was later denied by the Sammarinese government. [27]

On 26 June 1944, it was bombed by the British Royal Air Force which mistakenly believed it had been overrun by German forces and was being used to amass stores and ammunitions. The railway was destroyed and 63 civilians died during the operation. The British government later admitted the bombing had been unjustified and that it had been executed on receipt of erroneous information. [28]

San Marino's hope to escape further involvement was shattered on 27 July 1944 when Major Gunther, commander of the German forces in Forlì, delivered a letter from German headquarters in Ferrara to San Marino's government declaring that the country's sovereignty could not be respected if, in view of military requirements, the necessity of transit of troops and vehicles arose. The communiqué, however, underlined that wherever possible occupation would be avoided. [29]

Fears were confirmed when on 30 July a German medical corps colonel presented himself with an order for the requisition of two public buildings for the establishment of a military hospital. On the following day, 31 July 1944, in view of the likely invasion by German forces, the state sent three letters of protest: one to Joachim von Ribbentrop, German Foreign Minister, one to Adolf Hitler and one to Benito Mussolini, [29] the latter delivered by a delegation to Serafino Mazzolini, a high-ranking diplomat in the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Demanding to meet Mussolini with the intention to ask that its neutrality be respected, the following day Mazzolini took them to see Mussolini, who promised to contact the German authorities and intervene in favour of San Marino's request. [30]

San Marino was a refuge for over 100 000 civilians [31] who sought safety on the passing of Allied forces over the Gothic Line [1] during the Battle of Rimini, an enormous effort of relief by the inhabitants of a country that at that time counted only 15,000 people. [29]

Despite all this, the Germans and Allies clashed on San Marino's soil in late September 1944 at the Battle of Monte Pulito Allied troops occupied San Marino after that, but only stayed for two months before returning the Republic's sovereignty.

After the war, San Marino became one of the first countries in Western Europe to be ruled by a communist party (the Sammarinese Communist Party, in coalition with the Sammarinese Socialist Party) through democratic elections. The coalition lasted from 1945 to 1957, when the fatti di Rovereta occurred. This was one of the first times anywhere in the world, when a communist government was democratically elected into power. [32] [33] [34]

The Sammarinese Communist Party peacefully dissolved in 1990 and restructured as the Sammarinese Democratic Progressive Party replacing the former hammer-and-sickle logo (a communist motif representing the rights of workers) with the image of a drawing of a dove by Pablo Picasso. [35]

Universal suffrage was achieved by San Marino in 1960. Having joined the Council of Europe as a full member in 1988, San Marino held the rotating chair of the organisation during the first half of 1990.

San Marino became a member of the United Nations in 1992. In 2002 it signed a treaty with the OECD, agreeing to greater transparency in banking and taxation matters to help combat tax evasion.


Italy had allied with Germany and Austria-Hungary since 1882, but when war broke out in early August 1914 it declared its neutrality. Then in the coming months the Italians watched the great drama around their country. Some in Italy sympathized with Austria-Hungary, seeing it as a great Catholic empire and a bulwark against the Eastern Orthodox Church. Some favored siding with Austria-Hungary and Germany hoping this would allow Italy to gain colonial territory at the expense of France or Britain. Some others wanted their country to join Britain and France, believing that the Habsburgs were traditional enemies of the Italians, and some favored joining the British because Britain "ruled the waves" and this would save them from losing maritime trade.

Some in Italy wanted their country to gain territory at the expense of Austria-Hungary or perhaps the Ottoman Empire, and Britain and France obliged them. In a treaty signed in London in April, Italy was promised Tyrol, Trieste, northern Dalmatia and numerous islands in along Austria's Adriatic coast, and they were promised a share of Asia Minor at the expense of the Turks. And in agreeing to join the war, Italy was to receive loans and was in turn to attempt to pressure the Pope into refraining from making peace initiatives.

Italy declared war on Austria-Hungary on May 23. Not yet recovered from its war against the Ottoman Turks in 1911-12, Italy was short of artillery, machine guns, transport and other items needed to keep an army functioning. It was about to send a force northeast, intending to break through the Austrian lines.

Prime Minister Antonio Salandra announced the declaration of war:

I address myself to Italy and to the civilized world in order to show not by violent words, but by exact facts and documents, how the fury of our enemies has vainly attempted to diminish the high moral and political dignity of the cause which our arms will make prevail.

I shall speak with the calm of which the King of Italy has given a noble example, when he called his land and sea forces to arms. I shall speak with the respect due to my position and to the place in which I speak.

I can afford to ignore the insults written in Imperial, Royal, and Archducal proclamations. Since I speak from the Capitol, and represent in this solemn hour the people and the Government of Italy, I, a modest citizen, feel that I am far nobler than the head of the house of the Hapsburgs.

Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria-Hungary responded:

Benito Mussolini, kicked out of Italy's Socialist Party for favoring his country joining the war.

The King of Italy has declared war on me. Perfidy whose like history does not know was committed by the Kingdom of Italy against both allies. Italy abandoned us in our hour of danger and went over with flying colours into the camp of our enemies. We did not menace Italy did not curtail her authority did not attack her honour or interests. We always responded loyally to the duties of our alliance and afforded her our protection – then she took the field.

Germany's Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg responded:

When I last spoke there was still a glimpse of hope that Italy's participation in the war could be avoided. That hope proved fallacious. German feeling strove against the belief in the possibility of such a change. Italy has now inscribed in the book of the world's history, in letters of blood which will never fade, her violation of faith.

I believe Machiavelli once said that a war which is necessary is also just. Viewed from this sober, practical, political standpoint, which leaves out of account all moral considerations, has this war been necessary? Is it not, indeed, directly mad?

Before the year 1915 ended, 66,000 Italian soldiers would die along the Austria-Italian border, and there another stalemate developed. By then among the people of Austria hatred had arisen against the Italians for having stabbed them in the back. And this hatred inspired their renewed commitment to their nation's war effort.


1915: Bloodbath at the Isonzo River: Italy vs. Austria-Hungary

Italy was originally neutral during World War I, and technically part of the Central Powers. However, it later decided to enter the war on the Entente side, after the Entente Powers secretly promised to give Italy the Croatian coastal territories on the Adriatic.

Italy fired the first shells near the town of Cervignano del Friuli (twenty kilometers west of today’s Italian-Slovenian border).

Italy’s Head of General Staff (Italian: Capo di Stato Maggiore) was General Luigi Cadorna. He advocated frontal attacks on the battlefield, which had disastrous consequences for the Italian soldiers (hundreds of thousands were killed).

General Cadorna was planning to break through the Austro-Hungarian defense on the river Soča (Isonzo), then penetrate the area of Karst towards Ljubljana, and continue towards Vienna.

It was a huge plan, and totally unrealistic. Namely, trenches, barbed wire and machine guns were used at the time, and made such a dramatic breakthrough impossible.

The war soon turned into an exhausting trench warfare on the Italian battlefield, similar to the one on the Western Front in France.

More than 1,000,000 people lost heir lives on the Italian battlefield. About 650,000 people were killed on the Italian side, and about 400,000 on the Austro-Hungarian side.


Why did Italy join the Allies in 1915?

On 23 May 1915, Italy declared war on its former ally, Austria-Hungary. The Triple Alliance was reduced to an alliance between Germany and Austria-Hungary and Europe no longer seemed quite as finely balanced into two opposing camps as it had at the outbreak of war. But why did Italy abandon the Central Powers?

Italy had always been the shakiest member of the European alliance system. By 1914, the Triple Entente of Russia, France and the United Kingdom had developed into a working alliance. They faced the Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy. Germany and Austria-Hungary’s military alliance was solid. Its strength was forged from a messy combination of compromise, necessity, exigency and shared geographic and political goals.

These factors did not apply as clearly to Italy. In fact, there were real tensions between Italy and Austria-Hungary – a shared border, competing irredentist claims over Alpine and Adriatic territory and the prospect of territorial gains in the Balkans as a crumbling Ottoman Empire rolled back to its Anatolian heartlands.

The result was that Germany and Austria-Hungary were never quite able to glue Italy into their alliance system as firmly as the other great powers fitted into theirs. Italy’s ambiguous position was brought into sharp focus at the outbreak of war – whilst other European powers were sucked into the vortex of conflict, Italy remained neutral. On 2 August 1914, the Italians issued a Declaration of Neutrality.

Only nominally considered to be a great power by the other members of that European club, Italy suddenly found herself courted by both sides. The stakes were high – for the Central Powers, Italian naval power, if combined with the navies of the Ottoman Empire and Austria-Hungary, could significantly shift the Mediterranean balance of power. France would be forced to devote precious land and sea resources to defend its shared border and the British would face the prospect of their vital Suez Canal lifeline being cut off.

On the Entente side, adding Italy would not only free up the Mediterranean resources to be deployed against the main German threat but also open up an entirely new 600 kilometre long front with Austria-Hungary. The Allies, understanding the strength of Germany, had consistently tried to pierce the perceived soft underbelly of Austria-Hungary.

In the end, the Allies could promise Italy what Austria-Hungary could not bring herself to permit. Under the terms of the Treaty of London, signed in April 1915, Italy was promised a cornucopia of territorial gains. In the north, a belt of territory stretching from Trentino through the South Tyrol to Trieste would become Italian.

Perhaps more enticingly they were promised Balkan gains that revived dreams of an Italian Empire. The additions, evoking the glories of Rome and the Venetians, would see Italian control of parts of Dalmatia, numerous islands along Austria-Hungary’s Adriatic coast, the Albanian port city of Vlore (known in Italian as Valona).

In addition, they were promised a protectorate over a vast swathe of Albania and the prospect of further territory from the Ottoman Empire. Finally, concrete financial assistance was provided in the form of a loan of £50 million from the Allies.

Italy thus entered into the First World War with the mouthwatering prospect of feasting on the territorial remains of two decaying empires. It would be sorely disappointed with the outcome. By the end of the war, 615,000 Italians had been killed in action or died of wounds. Its prize for all that spilt blood and spent treasure was far less than had been promised control of South Tyrol and Trieste.

Italy entered the peace negotiations with high hopes but ended up leaving Versailles with very little. Disappointment, resentment and anger would sow the bitter seeds for future fascist foreign policy and an Italian desire to right the wrongs of the First World War in any future conflict.


World War I

The German declaration of war subordinated the Austro-Serbian conflict to the German aim of settling its own rivalries with France and Russia. According to the terms of the military agreement between Germany and Austria-Hungary, the Austro-Hungarian army had to abandon plans to conquer Serbia and instead protect the German invasion of France against Russian intervention. The setbacks that the Austrian army suffered in 1914 and 1915 can be attributed to a large extent to the fact that Austria-Hungary became a military satellite of Germany from the first day of the war, though it cannot be denied that the Austrian high command proved to be quite incompetent. The Austro-Hungarian chief of staff, Conrad, had clamoured for preventive war since 1906, but, when he received his chance in July 1914, it turned out that the Austrian army had no plans for an expeditious offensive. Similarly, after Italy entered the war on the side of the Allied Powers in May 1915, Conrad was unprepared. The fact that only after the Germans had taken command could the Russian front be stabilized did little to enhance the prestige of the Austrian government.

In July 1914 parliament was out of session, and the Austrian prime minister, Stürgkh, refused to convene it. That and the military censorship established immediately after the outbreak of the war concealed the discontent of the non-German population. While German public opinion in Austria had welcomed the war enthusiastically and some Polish leaders supported the war out of anti-Russian feeling, the Czech population openly showed its animosity. The Czech leader Tomáš Masaryk, who had been one of the most prominent spokesmen of the Czech cause, emigrated to western Europe in protest. Karel Kramář, who had supported the Pan-Slav idea, was tried for high treason and found guilty on the basis of shaky evidence. German nationalism was riding high, but in fact the German Austrians had little influence left. In military matters they were practically reduced to executing Germany’s orders in economic affairs the Hungarians, who controlled the food supply, had the decisive influence. The Hungarian prime minister, Tisza, who had opposed the war in July 1914, became the strongman of the empire. On his advice Foreign Minister Berchtold was dismissed in January 1915, and the foreign office was again entrusted to a Hungarian, István, Count Burián. But Burián failed to keep Italy and Romania out of the war. German attempts to pacify the two states by concessions were unsuccessful because Franz Joseph was unwilling to cede any territory in response to the irredentist demands of the two nations. How little the outward calm in the Habsburg lands corresponded to the sentiment of the population became apparent when Stürgkh was assassinated in October 1916 by Friedrich Adler, the pacifist son of Victor Adler, the leader of Austrian socialism. Franz Joseph made Koerber prime minister once again, but Koerber had no chance to develop a program of his own.

On November 21, 1916, Franz Joseph died, leaving the throne and the shaky empire to his 29-year-old grandnephew, Charles (I), who had had little preparation for his task until he became heir apparent on the death of Franz Ferdinand. Full of the best intentions, Charles set out to save the monarchy by searching for peace in foreign affairs and by recognizing the rights of the empire’s non-German and non-Hungarian nationalities. Charles relied heavily on the advice of politicians who had had the confidence of Franz Ferdinand. He dismissed Koerber in December 1916 and made Heinrich, Graf (count) von Clam-Martinic, a Czech aristocrat, prime minister. At the foreign office he replaced Burián with Ottokar, Count Czernin.

When parliament was reconvened in May 1917, it became manifest how far internal disintegration of the Habsburg monarchy had progressed. Parliament again became the stage of unrelenting national conflicts. Finding so little support from the Czech side, Charles turned back to the German element, and in June 1917 he made Ernst von Seidler, once his tutor in administrative and international law, prime minister. Although he tried to appease the Czechs, the stubborn insistence of the Germans not to yield any of their prerogatives made reform of the empire impossible.

At the same time, various moves to get Austria-Hungary out of the war ended in failure. After a U.S. offer of general mediation had miscarried in December 1916, Charles tried through secret channels to deal directly with the Triple Entente powers. In the spring of 1917 an exchange of peace feelers took place through the mediation of his brother-in-law, Sixtus, Fürst (prince) von Bourbon-Parma, but Italy’s unwillingness to abandon some of the concessions granted to it in the 1915 Treaty of London (by which Italy joined the Allies) made these talks abortive. Similarly, negotiations with Allied representatives carried on in Switzerland brought no results.

Since the Austro-Hungarian government was unable to extricate itself from the Dual Alliance, which tied Austria-Hungary to Germany, France and England ceased to have regard for the integrity of the Habsburg monarchy. Furthermore, the revolutionary events in Russia in 1917 and the entry of the United States into the war introduced a new, ideological element into Allied policy toward the German-led coalition known as the Central Powers. The German-directed governments represented an authoritarian system of government, and national agitation in the Habsburg lands assumed the character of a democratic liberation movement, winning the sympathies of western European and American public opinion. From early 1918 the Allied governments began to officially promote the activities of the émigrés from Austria, foremost among them the Czech leader Masaryk, and in April 1918 the Congress of Oppressed Nationalities was organized in Rome.


History

Pre-POD

Austria-Hungary was created out of the 1867 Compromise, were the Austrian Empire agreed to share the rule of the Empire between the ethnic Germans, and ethnic Hungarians. Both were allotted almost half of the territory to govern themselves, with Bosnia under a joint rule.

Following the compromise, two separate parliaments were established, one in Vienna for the Germans, and one in Budapest for the Hungarians. Despite this, the Austrian emperor remained the head-of-state, who came from the House of Habsburg-Lorraine.

Despite the reduced power the ethnic Germans held, them and the Hungarians comprised of less than half of the population (44%). This resulted in increased ethnic tensions throughout the realm. Nationalism continued to rise, and peaked around the turn of the century.

War with Italy

To the southwest, Italy had begun looking outward following its unification. Irredentism held a firm grasp on the population, Corsica, Nice, Trentino, Trieste, Dalmatia, Ticino and Malta were all set in their sights. With the ethnic trouble in Austria-Hungary, Italy saw its chance.

Beginning in December of 1914, Italy began demanding the "return" of Italian speaking regions of Austria-Hungary (Trentino and Trieste). Initially, these demands were brushed off, but again they were sent, then again.

Italy finally set a deadline for the surrender of the territories, February 1, 1915. Several countries, including their mutual all Germany, attempted to defuse the situation, but both stood their ground.

As the deadline drew near, both mobilized their militaries. The Austro-Hungarian government decided to use the Italian threats to their advantage. Italy was portrayed as an aggressive foreign threat to them, and called for a unified reaction to it. It largely had the effect they intended, the individual ethnic groups mostly put aside their own nationalism to meet the Italians.

Despite last ditch attempts by neutral sides, the deadline was reached without an agreement. Italy declared war less than twelve hours later.

Italy invaded expecting an easy victory. Instead the found a prepared and well defended army. Austria-Hungary had established an elaborate series of defensive trenches in order to repel the Italian invaders, and it was found difficult to break. Several concentrated assaults at Caporetto and along the Isonzo River ended in either failure or minimal gains.

After months of stalemate, Austria-Hungary launched a series of offensives along the northern border. The Italians, who had most of their forces redeployed south, were overrun, stopping several times to slow down the Austro-Hungarian army. But south and west they fled.

By October, the entire Italian line had collapsed and Austria-Hungary was advancing on Venice. In the largest battle of the war, the once-beautiful city was reduced to rubble, but in the end, the Italian defenders surrendered.

The loss forced Italian King Emanuel III to the negotiating table. In the ensuing treaty, Italy ceded not only Venice, but Milan as well. The post-war borders were set on those of the Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia, conquered during the Austro-Prussian war. Italy also agreed to military reductions and limits, as well as accepting blame for the war and paying reparations.

The war would set the stage for the rest of the early twentieth century.

Dissolution

Following their victory, Austria-Hungary fell back into its old problems. Poles, Ukrainians, Serbs, etc all took to the streets, denouncing their lack of representation. These protests turned violent several occasions, resulting in the deaths of up to 40 people.

When Emperor Franz Joseph I died on November 21, 1916, many minorities ethnic groups celebrated instead of mourn. Archduke Franz Ferdinand succeeded him to the throne. Many saw his liberal ideals as a hope for more rights, he did not disappoint.

Beginning in secret, only publicly announcing when it was well under way, he began reforming Austria-Hungary's political structure. His designs were based on a proposal by an advisor of his, Aurel Popovici, in 1906. Intra-Empire boundaries were drawn according to the individual ethnic groups within the Empire: groups like the Croats and Serbs, Germans, and Italians were to control up to three states, others got few. But none did not have a state of their own.

The proposal received resistance from the Hungarians, who had the most to lose in this reform as they had to fight the Germans for the 1867 Compromise. They were the only major opposition to Franz Ferdinand's plan, all other ethnicities found it favorable.

Franz Ferdinand spent three years building up to the transition, painstakingly finding his allies and fighting back against critics. He finally announced the end of Austria-Hungary on July 4, 1919, and what he called "a new era for Austria and her people" in the establishment of the United States of Greater Austria.


Primary Documents - Italian Entry into the War, 23 May 1915

Having declared a policy of neutrality at the outset of the war on 2 August 1914, the Italian government was eventually persuaded to enter the war on the side of the Allies in May 1915.

Italy's decision to enter the war was largely driven by the terms of the secret 1915 Treaty of London under which she had been promised large territorial gains at the close of the war at Austria-Hungary's expense.

On 23 May 1915, the day Italy joined the war, the Italian Prime Minister, Antonio Salandra, issued the following declaration of support for the Allies.

Click here to read Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Josef I's reaction to the Italian declaration. Click here to read German Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg's reaction.

I address myself to Italy and to the civilized world in order to show not by violent words, but by exact facts and documents, how the fury of our enemies has vainly attempted to diminish the high moral and political dignity of the cause which our arms will make prevail.

I shall speak with the calm of which the King of Italy has given a noble example, when he called his land and sea forces to arms. I shall speak with the respect due to my position and to the place in which I speak.

I can afford to ignore the insults written in Imperial, Royal, and Archducal proclamations. Since I speak from the Capitol, and represent in this solemn hour the people and the Government of Italy, I, a modest citizen, feel that I am far nobler than the head of the house of the Hapsburgs.

The commonplace statesmen who, in rash frivolity of mind and mistaken in all their calculations, set fire last July to the whole of Europe and even to their own hearths and homes, have now noticed their fresh colossal mistake, and in the Parliaments of Budapest and Berlin have poured forth brutal invective of Italy and her Government with the obvious design of securing the forgiveness of their fellow citizens and intoxicating them with cruel visions of hatred and blood.

The German Chancellor said he was imbued not with hatred, but with anger, and he spoke the truth, because he reasoned badly, as is usually the case in fits of rage. I could not, even if I chose, imitate their language. An atavistic throwback to primitive barbarism is more difficult for us who have twenty centuries behind us more than they have.

The fundamental thesis of the statesmen of Central Europe is to be found in the words "treason and surprise on the part of Italy toward her faithful allies." It would be easy to ask if he has any right to speak of alliance and respect for treaties who, representing with infinitely less genius, but with equal moral indifference, the tradition of Frederick the Great and Bismarck proclaimed that necessity knows no law, and consented to his country trampling under foot and burying at the bottom of the ocean all the documents and all the customs of civilization and international law.

But that would be too easy an argument. Let us examine, on the contrary, positively and calmly, if our former allies are entitled to say that they were betrayed and surprised by us.

Our aspirations had long been known, as was also our judgment on the act of criminal madness by which they shook the world and robbed the alliance itself of its closest raison d'etre. The "Green Book" prepared by Baron Sonnino, with whom it is the pride of my life to stand united in entire harmony in this solemn hour after thirty years of friendship, shows the long, difficult, and useless negotiations that took place between December and May.

But it is not true, as has been asserted without a shadow of foundation, that the Ministry reconstituted last November made a change in the direction of our international policy. The Italian Government, whose policy has never changed, severely condemned, at the very moment when it learned of it, the aggression of Austria against Serbia, and foresaw the consequences of that aggression, consequences which had not been foreseen by those who had premeditated the stroke with such lack of conscience.

In effect, Austria, in consequence of the terms in which her note was couched, and in consequence of the things demanded, which, while of little effect against the Pan-Serbian danger, were profoundly offensive to Serbia, and indirectly so to Russia, had clearly shown that she wished to provoke war.

Hence we declared to von Flotow that, in consequence of this procedure on the part of Austria and in consequence of the defensive and conservative character of the Triple Alliance Treaty, Italy was under no obligation to assist Austria if, as the result of this demarche, she found herself at war with Russia, because any European war would in such an event be the consequence of the act of provocation and aggression committed by Austria.

The Italian Government on July 27th and 28th emphasized in clear and unmistakable language to Berlin and Vienna the question of the cession of the Italian provinces subject to Austria, and we declared that if we did not obtain adequate compensation the Triple Alliance would have been irreparably broken. Impartial history will say that Austria, having found Italy in July, 1913, and in October, 1913, hostile to her intentions of aggression against Serbia, attempted last summer, in agreement with Germany, the method of surprise and the fait accompli.

The horrible crime of Sarajevo was exploited as a pretext a month after it happened - this was proved by the refusal of Austria to accept the very extensive offers of Serbia - nor at the moment of the general conflagration would Austria have been satisfied with the unconditional acceptance of the ultimatum.

Count Berchtold on July 3rst declared to the Duke of Avarna that, if there had been a possibility of mediation being exercised, it could not have interrupted hostilities, which had already begun with Serbia. This was the mediation for which Great Britain and Italy were working. In any case, Count Berchtold was not disposed to accept mediation tending to weaken the conditions indicated in the Austrian note, which, naturally, would have been increased at the end of the war.

If, moreover, Serbia had decided meanwhile to accept the aforementioned note in its entirety, declaring herself ready to agree to the conditions imposed on her, that would not have persuaded Austria to cease hostilities. It is not true, as Count Tisza declared, that Austria did not undertake to make territorial acquisitions to the detriment of Serbia, who, moreover, by accepting all the conditions imposed upon her, would have become a subject State.

The Austrian Ambassador, Herr Merey von Kapos-Mere, on July 30th, stated to the Marquis di San Giuliano that Austria could not make a binding declaration on this subject, because she could not foresee whether, during the war, she might not be obliged, against her will, to keep Serbian territory.

On July 29th Count Berchtold stated to the Duke of Avarna that he was not inclined to enter into any engagement concerning the eventual conduct of Austria in the case of a conflict with Serbia.

Where is, then, the treason, the iniquity, the surprise, if, after nine months of vain efforts to reach an honourable understanding which recognized in equitable measure our rights and our liberties, we resumed liberty of action? The truth is that Austria and Germany believed until the last days that they had to deal with an Italy weak, blustering, but not acting, capable of trying blackmail, but not enforcing by arms her good right, with an Italy which could be paralyzed by spending a few millions, and which by dealings which she could not avow was placing herself between the country and the Government.

I will not deny the benefits of the alliance benefits, however, not one-sided, but accruing to all the contracting parties, and perhaps not more to us than to the others. The continued suspicions and the aggressive intentions of Austria against Italy are notorious and are authentically proved.

The Chief of the General Staff, Baron Conrad von Holtzendorff, always maintained that war against Italy was inevitable, either on the question of the irredentist provinces or from jealousy, that Italy intended to aggrandize herself as soon as she was prepared, and meanwhile opposed everything that Austria wished to undertake in the Balkans, and consequently it was necessary to humiliate her in order that Austria might have her hands free, and he deplored that Italy had not been attacked in 1907.

Even the Austrian Minister of Foreign Affairs recognized that in the military party the opinion was prevalent that Italy must be suppressed by war because from the Kingdom of Italy came the attractive force of the Italian provinces of the empire, and consequently by a victory over the kingdom and its political annihilation all hope for the irredentists would cease.

We see now on the basis of documents how our allies aided us in the Libyan undertaking. The operations brilliantly begun by the Duke of the Abruzzi against the Turkish torpedo boats encountered at Preveza were stopped by Austria in a sudden and absolute manner.

Count Aehrenthal on October 1st informed our Ambassador at Vienna that our operations had made a painful impression upon him and that he could not allow them to be continued. It was urgently necessary, he said, to put an end to them and to give orders to prevent them from being renewed, either in Adriatic or in Ionian waters.

The following day the German Ambassador at Vienna, in a still more threatening manner, confidentially informed our Ambassador that Count Aehrenthal had requested him to telegraph to his Government to give the Italian Government to understand that if it continued its naval operations in the Adriatic and in the Ionian Seas it would have to deal directly with Austria-Hungary.

And it was not only in the Adriatic and in the Ionian Seas that Austria paralyzed our actions. On November 5th Count Aehrenthal informed the Duke of Avarna that he had learned that Italian warships had been reported off Salonika, where they had used electric searchlights - and declared that our action on the Ottoman coasts of European Turkey, as well as on the Aegean Islands, could not have been allowed either by Austria-Hungary or by Germany, because it was contrary to the Triple Alliance Treaty.

In March, 1912, Count Berchtold, who had in the meantime succeeded Count Aehrenthal, declared to the German Ambassador in Vienna that, in regard to our operations against the coasts of European Turkey and the Aegean Islands, he adhered to the point of view of Count Aehrenthal, according to which these operations were considered by the Austro-Hungarian Government contrary to the engagement entered into by us by Article VII. of the Triple Alliance Treaty.

As for our operations against the Dardanelles, he considered it opposed, first, to the promise made by us not to proceed to any act which might endanger the status quo in the Balkans, and, secondly, to the spirit of the same treaty, which was based on the maintenance of the status quo.

Afterward, when our squadron at the entrance to the Dardanelles was bombarded by Fort Kumkalessi and replied, damaging that fort, Count Berchtold complained of what had happened, considering it contrary to the promises we had made, and declared that if the Italian Government desired to resume its liberty of action, the Austro-Hungarian Government could have done the same.

He added that lie could not have allowed us to undertake in the future similar operations or operations in any way opposed to this point of view. In the same way our projected occupation of Chios was prevented. It is superfluous to remark how many lives of Italian soldiers and how many millions were sacrificed through the persistent vetoing of our actions against Turkey, who knew that she was protected by our allies against all attacks on her vital parts.

We were bitterly reproached for not having accepted the offers made toward the end of May, but were these offers made in good faith? Certain documents indicate that they were not. Franz Josef said that Italy was regarding the patrimony of his house with greedy eyes. Herr von Bethmann-Hollweg said that the aim of these concessions was to purchase our neutrality, and, therefore, gentlemen, you may applaud us for not having accepted them.

Moreover, these concessions, even in their last and belated edition, in no way responded to the objectives of Italian policy, which are, first, the defence of Italianism, the greatest of our duties secondly, a secure military frontier, replacing that which was imposed upon us in 1866, by which all the gates of Italy are open to our adversaries thirdly, a strategical situation in the Adriatic less dangerous and unfortunate than that which we have, and of which you have seen the effects in the last few days. All these essential advantages were substantially denied us.

To our minimum demand for the granting of independence to Trieste the reply was to offer Trieste administrative autonomy. Also the question of fulfilling the promises was very important. We were told not to doubt that they would be fulfilled, because we should have Germany's guarantee, but if at the end of the war Germany had not been able to keep it, what would our position have been? And in any case, after this agreement, the Triple Alliance would have been renewed, but in much less favourable conditions, for there would have been one sovereign State and two subject States.

On the day when one of the clauses of the treaty was not fulfilled, or on the day when the municipal autonomy of Trieste was violated by an imperial decree or by a lieutenant's orders, to whom should we have addressed ourselves? To our common superior - to Germany? I do not wish to speak of Germany to you without admiration and respect. I am the Italian Prime Minister, not the German Chancellor, and I do not lose my head. But with all respect for the learned, powerful, and great Germany, an admirable example of organization and resistance, in the name of Italy I declare for no subjection and no protectorate over any one.

The dream of a universal hegemony is shattered. The world has risen. The peace and civilization of future humanity must be founded on respect for existing national autonomies. Among these Germany will have to sit as an equal, and not as a master.

But a more remarkable example of the unmeasured pride with which the directors of German policy regard other nations is given in the picture which Herr von Bethmann-Hollweg drew of the Italian political world.

I do not know if it was the intention of this man, blinded by rage, personally to insult my colleagues and me. If that was the case, I should not mention it. We are men whose life you know, men who have served the State to an advanced age, men of spotless renown, men who have given the lives of their children for their country.

The information on which this judgment was based is attributed by the German Chancellor to him whom he calls the best judge of Italian affairs. Perhaps he alludes to Prince von Billow, with the brotherly desire to shoulder responsibilities upon him. Now, I do not wish you to entertain an erroneous idea of Prince von Billow's intentions. I believe that he had sympathies for Italy, and did all he could to bring about an agreement.

But how great and how numerous were the mistakes he made in translating his good intentions into action! He thought that Italy could be diverted from her path by a few millions ill-spent and by the influence of a few persons who have lost touch with the soul of the nation - by contact, attempted, but, I hope, not accomplished, with certain politicians.

The effect was the contrary. An immense outburst of indignation was kindled throughout Italy, and not among the populace, but among the noblest and most educated classes and among all the youth of the country, which is ready to shed its blood for the nation.

This outburst of indignation was kindled as the result of the suspicion that a foreign Ambassador was interfering between the Italian Government, the Parliament, and the country.

In the blaze thus kindled internal discussions melted away, and the whole nation was joined in a wonderful moral union, which will prove our greatest source of strength in the severe struggle which faces us, and which must lead us by our own virtue, and not by benevolent concessions from others, to the accomplishment of the highest destinies of the country.

Source: Source Records of the Great War, Vol. III, ed. Charles F. Horne, National Alumni 1923


Italy declares war on Austria-Hungary - HISTORY

W orld War 1 at Sea

AUSTRO-HUNGARIAN NAVY
Kaiserlich und Koniglich or k.u.k Kriegsmarine

by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net

Naval War in Outline
Austrian ship titles
Warship numbers & losses, 1914-18
Losses by year
Key to main characteristics including Austrian torpedo and gun calibres
Main ship types - Dreadnoughts to Submarines

Apart from one major fleet sortie on the declaration of war between Austria and Italy on the 23rd May 1915, and an aborted one in June 1918 when dreadnought 'Szent Istvan' was lost, the Austrian heavy ships spent the entire war as a fleet-in-being within the Adriatic Sea, holding down a large portion of the Italian and French battle fleets as well as units of the Royal Navy. Most of the action in the Adriatic that took place involved the well-handled destroyers, submarines and to a lesser extent light cruisers of the Austrian Navy.

The initially small Austrian submarine force was unable to play a role outside the Adriatic, and by early 1915 the Germans were sending U-boats into the Mediterranean, in part to attack the Allied fleet off the Dardanelles. As Italy had declared war on Austro-Hungary but not Germany, the German boats operated under the Austrian ensign and were temporarily commissioned into the Austrian Navy. Once Germany and Italy had gone to war in August 1916, German U-boats operated under their own flag. Although the Austrian submarine fleet did not grow to large numbers it had an impressive record - damaging French dreadnought 'Jean Bart', and sinking:

Armoured cruisers - French 'Leon Gambetta', Italian 'Giuseppe Garibaldi'

Destroyers - British 'Phoenix', French 'Fourche' and 'Renaudin', Italian 'Impetuoso' and 'Nembo'

Submarines - French 'Circe', Italian 'Nereide'

Key to Austrian titles

Erzherzog - Archduke Kaiser - Emperor Kaiserin - Empress Konigen - Queen Kronprinz - Crown prince Sankt - Saint

WARSHIP NUMBERS and LOSSES - 1914-18

August 1914 Strength

Wartime additions

1914-18 losses

LOSSES BY YEAR - (In date order within each year)

Year - Ships lost (all in Adriatic Sea, except 'Kaiserin Elisabeth' in Far East)
1914 - protected cruiser 'Kaiserin Elisabeth', light/scout cruiser 'Zenta'
1915 - submarines 'U.12', 'U.3', destroyers 'Lika', 'Triglav'
1916 - submarines 'U.6', 'U.16'
1917 - submarine 'U.30', destroyer 'Wildfang', coast defence ship 'Wien'
1918 - submarine 'U.23', destroyer 'Streiter', submarines 'U.20', 'U.10', dreadnoughts 'Szent Istvan', 'Viribus Unitis'

Key to Main Characteristics

Tonnage - standard displacement Speed - designed speed at standard displacement, rarely attained in service Main armament - sometimes changed as the war progressed secondary armament usually changed Complement - normal peace time. Exceeded in war with consequent reduction in living space and higher battle casualties Year - year or years class completed and normally entered service. Only includes ships completed up to war's end Loss Positions - estimated from location unless available from reliable sources Casualties - totals of men lost, or survivors plus saved, will often exceed peacetime complements.

Austrian torpedo and gun calibres in inches:

Torpedoes: 53.3cm - 21in 50cm - 19.7in 45cm - 17.7in

Guns: 30.5cm - 12in 24cm - 9.4in 19cm - 7.5in 15cm - 5.9in 12cm - 4.7in 10cm - 3.9in 8.8cm - 3.5in 7.5cm - 2.9in 6.6cm - 2.6in

DREADNOUGHTS

August 1914 Strength (3)

1. TEGETTHOFF class, PRINZ EUGEN, TEGETTHOFF, VIRIBUS UNITIS, class of four, 1 lost, 1 completed in 1915) - 20,000t, 20 knots, 12-30.5cm/12-15cm/20-6.6cm, 1912-14


SMS Viribus Unitis, believed firing a forward turret (Photo Ships)

In August 1914, the three completed 'Tegetthof' dreadnoughts and three 'Radetzky' pre-Dreadnoughts formed the First Battle Squadron, spending most of the war as a fleet-in-being

VIRIBUS UNITIS ('with joined forces'), 1st November 1918, northern Adriatic Sea at Pola (Pula) naval base (c 44-45’N, 13-45’E) - Italian 'Mignata' (or leech) self-propelled mines. With the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the state of Yugoslavia was formed by the southern Slavs and declared on the side of the Allies. 'Viribus Unitis' (Capt Janko Vukovic de Podkapelski, also provisional Yugoslav Fleet commander) was taken over on the 31st October by the Yugoslav National Council as flagship of the new navy. Apparently ignoring the new political situation, the Italians went ahead with a planned attack on Pola. Early in the morning of the 1st November and with few defensive precautions now being taken, two Italian frogmen, Maj of Naval Engineers Raffaele Rossetti and Doctor Lt Raffaele Paolucci, slipped into the naval base and attached mines to the dreadnought and liner 'Wien'. Both ships sank, 'Viribus Unitis' capsizing and going down around dawn. Several hundred men died including the new Captain.

1. Last of Tegetthof class, SZENT ISTVAN, lost - as above

SZENT ISTVAN (King Stephen 1 of Hungary), 10th June 1918, northern Adriatic Sea, south east of Pola (Pula), nine miles southwest of Premuda island (c 44-15’N, 14-30’E) - 2 torpedoes from Italian motor boat 'Mas.15'. Leaving Pola on the 9th, she and the three other 'Tegetthof' dreadnoughts of the 1st Battle Division, First Battle Squadron sailed to support a planned cruiser raid on the Otranto Barrage, now believed by the Germans to be a serious obstacle to U-boat movements. Two Italian anti-submarine motor boats - 'Mas.15' and 'Mas.21', both 16 tons and armed with two-45cm torpedoes, happened to be out in the northern Adriatic, towed there for a minesweeping mission. 'Mas.15' (Cdr Luigi Rizzo, who sank the coast defence ship 'Wien' in December 1917 - below) hit the 'Szent Istvan' amidships at 03.30hrs on the 10th. She rolled over and sank at 06.00hrs with 89 men lost. 'Mas.21' missed the 'Tegetthoff', but both Italian boats escaped and the Austrian operation against the Otranto Barrage was called off.

(latest researchs shows the possibility that 'Szent Istvan' was hit by 3 torpedoes - twice by MAS 15 and once by MAS 21. Due to the conditions - twilight etc, MAS 21 probably attacked her and not 'Tegetthof' as noted above. The information has not been confirmed offically. More can be found at the bottom of http://www.geocities.com/tegetthoff66/szent.html and http://www.beyondmagazine.co.uk/wreck/svent.htm . Information is again courtesy of Danijel Zavratnik from Slovenia)

August 1914 Strength (3)

2. RADETZKY class, ERZHERZOG FRANZ FERDINAND, RADETZKY, ZRINYI, 3 ships - 14,500t, 20 knots, 4-30.5cm/8-24cm/20-10cm, 890 crew, 1910/11


SMS Radetsky (Photo Ships)

In August 1914, the three 'Radetzky’s' and three completed 'Tegetthof' dreadnoughts formed the First Battle Squadron

All three ships, serving as the 2nd Battle Division, First Battle Squadron, took part in a May 1915 shore bombardment of the Italian coast with the three dreadnoughts, but thereafter remained inactive at Pola as a fleet-in-being

PRE-DREADNOUGHT BATTLESHIPS

August 1914 Strength (6)

3. HABSBURG class, ARPAD, BABENBERG, HABSBURG, 3 ships - 8,230t, 18 knots, 3-24cm/12-15cm, 625 crew, launched 1900-02

In August 1914, all six pre-dreadnoughts formed the Second Battle Squadron. The three 'Habsburg’s' served as the 4th Battle Division, but were later decommissioned as harbour guardships

4. ERZHERZOG KARL class, ERZHERZOG FERDINAND MAX, ERZHERZOG FRIEDRICH, ERZHERZOG KARL, 3 ships - 10,500t, 19 knots, 4-24cm/12-19cm, 750 crew, launched 1903-05

In August 1914, the three 'Erzherzog Karl’s' formed the 3rd Battle Division of the Second Battle Squadron

August 1914 Strength (4)

5. KRONPRINZ ERZHERZOG RUDOLF, KRONPRINZ ERZHERZOG RUDOLF, Local defence ship, Cattaro (Kotor) Bay - 6,830t, 16 knots, 3 old 30.5cm/6-12cm, 455 crew, launched 1887

6. MONARCH class, BUDAPEST, MONARCH, WIEN, 3 ships, 1 lost - 5,500t, 17 knots, 4-24cm/6-15cm, 435 crew, 1897

All three ships formed the 5th Battle Division, but remained in reserve

WIEN (Vienna), 10th December 1917, northern Adriatic Sea, off Muggia in the Bay of Trieste (c 45-30’N, 13-45’E) - torpedoed by Italian motor boat 'Mas.9'. Based with the 'Budapest' at Trieste and used in support of the Austrian army fighting on the Italian front, the two old ships were preparing to carry out a shore bombardment. Two of the 16 ton, 2-45cm torpedo-armed motor boats, 'Mas.9' and 'Mas.13' were towed from Venice by torpedo boats 9PN and 11PN to within 10 miles of Trieste. Cutting through the heavy hawsers that protected the anchorage the two craft broke through and launched their torpedoes. 'Mas.9' (Lt Luigi Rizzo - see the 'Szent Istvan' above) hit the 'Wien' which went down rapidly, but 'Mas.13' missed 'Budapest'. They both returned safely to Venice. Most of 'Wien’s' crew was saved

August 1914 Strength (3)

7. KAISERIN UND KONIGEN MARIA THERESIA type, KAISERIN UND KONIGEN MARIA THERESIA, KAISER KARL VI, SANKT GEORG, 3 ships - 5,330-7,300t, launched 1893-1903

These ships formed the 1st Cruiser Division, but Kaiserin und Konigen Maria Theresia spent 1914-16 as harbour guardship, Sebenico (Sibenik) and from 1917 as German U-boat accommodation ship, Pola

August 1914 Strength (3)

8. KAISER FRANZ JOSEPH I class, KAISER FRANZ JOSEPH I, KAISERIN ELISABETH, 2 ships, 1 lost - 4,000t, 6-15cm, 1892

Kaiser Franz Joseph I soon decommissioned as harbour defence ship

KAISERIN ELISABETH, 2nd November 1914, Chinese waters, off Tsingtao (Qingdao) in Kiaochow Bay (c 36-00’N, 120-15’E) - blown up and scuttled. Represented the Austrian Navy on the Far East Station at Tsingtao. Most of her guns and guns crews were landed as the 'Elisabeth' Battery for the defence of the German naval base during the Japanese siege. The largely disarmed old cruiser was scuttled five days before the final surrender on the 7th November

August 1914 Strength (4)

9. ZENTA class, ASPERN, SZIGETVAR, ZENTA, 3 ships, 1 lost, survivors served from 1918 as accommodation or target ships - 2,300t, 8-12cm, 300 crew, 1899

ZENTA (Austrian-Ottoman Battle of Zenta), 16th August 1914, southern Adriatic Sea, off Antivari (Bar), Montenegro (c 42-00’N, 18-30’E) - French heavy gunfire. 'Zenta' (Cdr Paul Pachner) and escorting destroyer 'Ulan' were blockading the Montenegran coast in foggy conditions when surprised by the main French battlefleet under Adm Lapeyrere, now based at Malta with the aim of keeping the Austrian fleet locked in the Adriatic. 'Ulan' escaped to the north, but 'Zenta' was cut off and received at least two heavy shell hits from dreadnought 'Courbet'. Severely damaged, she blew up and sank around ten minutes later, but most of her crew of 300 reportedly got ashore in their boats

10. ADMIRAL SPAUN - 3,500t, 27 knots, 7-10cm, 330 crew, 1910

11. Modified ADMIRAL SPAUN class, HELGOLAND, NOVARA, SAIDA, 3 ships - 3,500t, 27 knots, 9-10cm, 340 crew, 1914-15

Helgoland took part in the December 1915 raid into the Adriatic to interfere with the Allied evacuation of Serbian forces

All three cruisers took part in the May 1917 attack on the British drifters patrolling the Otranto net barrage

August 1914 Strength (25)

12. METEOR - 430t, launched 1887

13. BLITZ class, BLITZ, KOMET, MAGNET, PLANET, SATELIT, TRABANT, 6 ships - 380-605t, launched 1888-1896

14. HUSZAR class, CSIKOS, DINARA, HUSZAR, PANDUR, REKA, SCHARFSHUTZE, STREITER, TURUL, ULAN, USKOKE, VELEBIT, WILDFANG, 12 ships, 2 lost - 390t, 28 knots, 6-6.6cm/2-45cm tt, c 70 crew, launched 1906-10

STREITER (Fighter), 16th April 1918, northern Adriatic Sea off Laurana in the Quarnero channel (now The Kvarner, Croatia) (c 45-00’N, 14-15’E) - collision with SS 'Petka'. 'Streiter' escorting convoy including the 'Petka'

WILDFANG (Tomboy), 4th June 1917, northern Adriatic Sea, west of Peneda Island, Brioni Islands (Brijuni) off Pola (Pula) naval base - mined. Believed based at Cattaro (Kotor) at the time. On reconnaissance patrol when sunk by a floating mine

15. TATRA class, BALATON, CZEPEL, LIKA, ORJEN, TATRA, TRIGLAV, 6 ships, 2 lost - 850t, 32 knots, 2-10cm/6-6.6cm/2-45cm tt, 105 crew, launched 1912-13

LIKA (region in Croatia) , 29th December 1915, southern Adriatic Sea, off Durazzo (Durres), Albania (c 41-15’N, 19-15’E) - Italian mines. Two Italian destroyers were reported carrying troops to Durazzo at the time of the Serbian evacuation in the face of the slowly advancing Austrian army. An Austrian force of scout 'Helgoland' and five 'Tatra' destroyers were ordered to search for the Italians, and if unsuccessful destroy any shipping in Durazzo. After sinking the French submarine 'Monge' on passage south. the destroyers entered the harbour at daybreak, sank three small ships and as shore batteries opened up, turned into a minefield. 'Triglav' and 'Lika' detonated mines, 'Lika' sinking at once survivors were picked up by her sister ships

TRIGLAV (mountain in Slovenia), 29th December 1915, southern Adriatic Sea, off Cape Rodini, Albania (c 41-30’N, 19-00’E) - scuttled after striking Italian mine off Durazzo. On the same mission as 'Lika', 'Triglav' was badly damaged in the same minefield. 'Czepel' attempted to take her in tow, but fouled a propeller, and the job was taken over by 'Tatra'. As the crippled Austrian force returned slowly north at 6 knots, Allied ships got between them and their Cattarro base. 'Triglav' was abandoned, but attempts to scuttle her failed. She was finished off by five French destroyers of the 'Casque' group, including 'Casque' herself

16. WARASDINER - 390t, 30 knots, 6-6.6m/4-45cm tt, 75 crew, launched 1912

17. Ersatz (equivalent) TATRA class, DUKLA, LIKA (2), TRIGLAV (2), UZSOK, 4 ships - 880t, 32 knots, 2-10cm/6-6.6cm/4-45cm tt, 115 crew, launched 1917

August 1914 Strength (5)

18. U.1 class, U.1-U.2, 2 boats - 230/250t, 10/6 knots, 3-45cm tt, 17 crew, launched 1909

19. U.3 class, U.3-U.4, 2 boats, 1 lost - 240/300t, 12/8 knots, 2-45cm tt, 21 crew, launched 1909

U.3 , 13th August 1915, Southern Adriatic Sea, NE of Brindisi (41-00’N, 18-15’E) - gunfire of French destroyer 'Bisson'. Italian AMC 'Citta di Catania' patrolling the northern end of the Strait of Otranto was attacked by the German-built 'U.3' (Lt Cdr Karl Strnad) on the 12th, but not hit. 'U.3' is believed to have been rammed and badly damaged in return, and was unable to submerge. Allied destroyers were called up and next morning on the 13th she was sighted on the surface and sunk by 'Bisson's' gunfire 7 men were lost including Lt Strnad, and 14 survivors picked up

U.4 torpedoed and sank Italian armoured cruiser 'Giuseppe Garibaldi' in the central Adriatic in July 1915

20. U.5 class, U.5-U.6, class of 3 boats, 2 completed before war, 1 lost - 240/275t, 8/6 knots, 2-45cm tt, 19 crew, 1910/11

U.5 torpedoed and sank French armoured cruiser 'Leon Gambetta' in the southern Adriatic in April 1915

U.6 , 13th May 1916, Southern Adriatic Sea in Strait of Otranto, 12m ENE of Cape Otranto (40-10’N, c 18-45’E) - British drifter nets and gunfire. Attempting to break through the Otranto Barrage at night, 'U.6' (Lt Cdr Hugo von Falkenhausen) fouled the nets of patrolling fishing drifter 'Calistoga', surfaced and was shelled by her and the 'Dulcie Doris' and 'Evening Star II'. The Austrian boat was scuttled and all 15 crew saved. One source gives the date as the 10th May. Throughout the war, only two U-boats were confirmed sunk in the Otranto Barrage - Austrian 'U.6' at this time and German 'UB.53' in August 1918

21. U.7 class, U.7-U.11, under construction in Germany and sold to the German Navy in November 1914. Commissioned as German U.66-70

20. (above - concluded) U.5 class completed 1914 with 'U-12'

U.12 torpedoed and damaged French dreadnought 'Jean Bart' in the Adriatic Sea in December 1914

U.12 , 8th August 1915, northern Adriatic Sea, off Venice, NE Italy - Italian mines. Most sources presume she was lost on mines on or around the 11th or 12th trying to penetrate the harbour defences of Venice. Kemp's 'U-Boats Destroyed' is more specific - 'U.12' (Lt Cdr Egon Lerch) was on patrol off Venice and on the 6th August damaged by Italian destroyer 'Rossolina Pilo'. Two days later an explosion was observed in a defensive minefield and divers sent down. The wreck of 'U.12' with her stern damaged was found 7.6 miles bearing 104 degrees from the Punta Sabbioni lighthouse in the Venetian lagoon all 13 crew were lost with her

22. U.10 class coastal boats, U.10-U.11, U.15-U.17, 5 boats, 2 lost - 125/140t, 6/5 knots, 2-45cm tt, 17 crew, launched 1915.

Transported from Germany to Pola in sections, 'U.10' initially commissioned as German 'UB.1', 'U.22' as 'UB.15'

U.10 (ex-German 'UB.1'), damaged 9th July 1918, northern Adriatic Sea, off Caorle, NE Italy in the Gulf of Venice (c 45-30’N, 13-00’E) - Italian mines. Heavily damaged by a mine, 'U.10' (Lt Cdr Johann von Ulmansky) was beached between Caorle and the estuary of the Tagliamento River. She was salvaged and towed to Trieste, but not repaired before the end of the war all her crew of 13 were saved

U.16 , 17th October 1916, southern Adriatic Sea, off Valona (Vlore), Albania (c 40-45’N, 19-00’E) - Italian convoy ships and escorts. During a convoy attack, 'U.16' (Lt Cdr Oerst von Zopa) torpedoed Italian destroyer 'Nembo', but was then sunk herself. She may have been rammed and badly damaged by one of the convoyed ships, Italian steamer 'Borminda' (or 'Bermida'), and scuttled. Or otherwise sunk by the exploding depth charges of 'Nembo' which had not been set to 'safe' before she went down 11 of 'U.16’s' crew including her CO were lost and two survivors picked up

23. U.14 - 400/550t, 12/9, 1-53.3cm tt/6-53.3cm external torpedoes/rearmed with 1-8.8cm, 28 crew, recommissioned 1915.

Ex-French 'Curie', sunk off Pola in December 1914, raised and repaired

24. U.20 class coastal boats, U.20-23, 4 boats, 2 lost - 175/210t, 12/9 knots, 2-45cm tt/1-6.6cm, 18 crew, launched 1916/17

U.20, 4th July 1918, northern Adriatic Sea, off the estuary of the Tagliamento River, west of Trieste (45-29’N, 13-02’E) - torpedoed once by Italian submarine 'F.12'. The attack on 'U.20' (Lt Cdr Ludwig Muller) by the surfaced 'F.12' took place on the night of the 4th/5th from a range of 650 yards. Other sources give the date as the 6th or 9th July 1918 all her crew were lost. 'U.20’s' salvaged midships section and conning tower is on display at the Heeresgeschichtliches Museum, Vienna

U.23, 21st February 1918, southern Adriatic Sea, off Valona (Vlore), Albania in the Strait of Otranto (40-26’N, 19-02’E) - Italian torpedo boat 'Airone'. 'U.23' (Lt Cdr Klemens von Bezard) was first sighted on the surface by 'Airone' which attempted to ram. Once submerged the destroyer sunk her with a towed explosive paravane. Sources differ on 'U.23’s' activities at this time - she was either attacking an Allied convoy or attempting to break through the Strait of Otranto, or perhaps both all her crew were lost

25. U.27 class coastal boats, U.27-U.32, U.40-U.41, 8 boats, 1 lost - 265/300t, 9/7 knots, 2-45cm tt/1-7.5cm gun, 23 crew, launched 1916/17, built at Pola to German 'UB-II' design

U.30 , early April 1917, possibly southern Adriatic Sea in the Strait of Otranto area - missing. 'U.30' (Lt Cdr Friedrich Fahndrich) sailed from Cattaro (Kotor) on the 31st March 1917 for Mediterranean patrol between Malta and Crete, and was never seen again. Some sources suggest she disappeared around the 1st or 2nd, cause unknown, but possibly mined in the Otranto Barrage or an accident off Cape Otranto. She might also have gone down in the Mediterranean, one of the few U-boats lost in the area in 1917 all her crew were lost

26. U.43 class coastal boats, U.43, U.47, 2 boats - 265/290t, 9/6 knots, 2-50cm tt/1-8.8cm gun, 22 crew, 1917.

Originally German 'UB.43' and 'UB.47' from 1916, but sold to Austrian Navy and recommissioned in July 1917

Note - My thanks to Danijel Zavratnik from Slovenia for noting that most of the place names are Italian spellings and that many have changed since World War 1.

The old Italian names and the modern Croatian, Montenegran and Albanian equivalents are as follows:

ITALIAN = CROATIAN:
Brioni = Brijuni
Laurana = Lovran
Pola = Pula
Quarnero = Kvarner
Sebenico = Sibenik

ITALIAN = MONTENEGRAN:
Antivari = Bar
Cattaro = Kotor

ITALIAN = ALBANIAN:
Durazzo = Durres
Valona =Vlore


Watch the video: Italian Empire vs Austria-Hungary Empire -Empire Comparison (August 2022).