1896-1914 History of Italy 1918-1922

Austrian Feldpost stamps (to be used by soldiers in the field)
overprinted in the Italian Lira/Centesimi currency (used in the occupied Veneto, 1917)

Italy, 1914-1918

The War . Domestic Policy . The Economy

The War . When World War I broke out in August 1914, Italy technically was an ally of Germany and Austria-Hungary, with whom it had signed the Triple Alliance in 1882. Yet the Italian government headed by Antonio Salandra remained, for the time being, neutral, claiming that, because Austria had not been attacked, the conditions of the Triple Alliance did not apply.
Both the Central Powers and the Entente attempted to draw Italy into the war. Political opposition to the Salandra administration, united in their demand for Italy to join the war, grew into a wide coalition. The government negotiated with the Entente, securing territorial promises at the expense of Austria-Hungary in the secret Treaty of London (1915) which included Trent, Southern Tyrol, Istria, Gorizia and Dalmatia. On May 23rd 1915 Italy, claiming Sacro Egoismo, declared war on the Central Powers. The territorial demands were regarded Italian territories not yet unified with Italy (Irredenta-Policy).
A new front was opened along the Italian-Austrian border, in the Dolomites and along the Isonzo River. Italian offensives in 1915 and 1916 did not result in significant territorial gain. In October 1917, the Italians suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Austrians at Caporetto and were driven back far into the Veneto; a new front formed along the Piave River. It would stabilize until October 1918, when the Italians were victorious at Vittorio Veneto and pushed the Austrians out of Italy.

The Economy . The war had far-reaching consequences for the country. A war economy was introduced, consumer goods rationed, coupons issued, production focussed on war essentials, women were employed in the industry and elsewhere to replace the men who were called to arms.
In World War I, Italy suffered about 600,000 dead. The war resulted in the build-up of an arms industry (airplane, vehicle production), industries which were new to Italy respectively which had seen an enormous expansion of their capacity and great technological progress. They were to form the base for Italy's civilian car and airplane industry.

Domestic Policy . During the war, the Italian political parties were not united in supporting the war. Liberal Giovanni Giolitti (prime minister until early in 1914) and his followers criticized the government for it's decision to enter the war and blamed it for the consequences. The socialist PSI also maintained a policy advocating neutrality.

Austrian stamp overprinted Venezia Giulia on the occasion of the Italian recovery of the Veneto, 1918

Cronologia, Italian language site on Italian and World History
History of Italy : Monarchy, from Wikipedia
The Italian front, from Great War Society, many subfiles
Italy in the Great War, from World Conflicts Document Project
Treaty of London, April 26th 1915 (summary), from La Grande Guerra, in English
The Italian Front, 1914-1915, The Intervention of Italy, 1915, The Italian Front, 1916, The Italian Front, 1916-1917, from Encyclopedia of World History
World War I and Red Biennium, from History 232 : Modern Italy at Dickinson
DOCUMENTS World Statesmen : Italy
Historical Population Statistics : Italy, from Population Statistics, Univ. Utrecht
Italy Declares Neutrality in World War I, July 31st 1914, from History 232 : Modern Italy at Dickinson College
26 April, 1915 The Treaty of London (Extracts), from World War I Document Archive; also from History 232 : Modern Italy at Dickinson College
23 May 1915 : Italian Premier Antonio Salandra's Declaration for the Allies, from World War I Document Archive
Salandra Speech justifying Italy's Declaration of War, from History 232 : Modern Italy at Dickinson College
L'Italia nella Grande Guerra (photographies featuring Italy in WW I), from World Conflicts Document Project
Italy and the World War, by Thomas Nelson Page, US Ambassador to Italy 1913-1919, written in 1920, from Univ. of Kansas
La Grande Guerra 1915-1918, collection of postcards and other images, in Italian
Album dei ricordi : La Grande Guerra (1915-1918), from Intercam, many photos, comment in Italian, on C. Battisti, elected representative of Trent in the Vienna parliament, later volunteer in the Italian army, taken prisoner by the Austrians, treated as deserter, executed
La Grande Guerre 1914-1918 a travers les Revues d'Epoque, posted by Olivier, in French; click "Les Revues Italiennes"
REFERENCE History Book Reviews : Italy : Liberal State, 1860-1922

Article Italy, in : Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th edition, Macropaedia, Vol.22 pp.165-247, KMLA Lib.Sign. R 032 B862n v.22
Article Italy, in : New International Year Book 1914 pp.381-386, 1916 pp.349-353, 1918 pp.331-335 [G]
Christopher Duggan, A Concise History of Italy, Cambridge Concise Histories, 1994, pp.189-195
E. Alexander Powell, Italy at War (1919), posted by Gutenberg Library Online
Entry : Italy, in : Statesman's Year Book 1918 pp.1004-1031, 1036-1039 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on September 14th 2008

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