Italy and the War
I—The Causes Of Italy's Action
[The Outlook; August 4, 1915]
There are two Italys. One is the Italy of intrigue; the other the Italy of idealism. One is the Italy of Machiavelli; the other the Italy of Mazzini, of Garibaldi. One is the Italy of astute diplomacy; the other the Italy of popular enthusiasm.
Which Italy is it that has now entered the war?
Italy's enemies say it is the Italy of Machiavelli, the Italy of intrigue, of official diplomacy. Italy, they say, waited until she saw which way the struggle was going, meantime bargaining for land; then, forgetting her obligations as a member of the Triple Alliance, she chose at the critical moment to turn against her old allies for the sake of a share in the spoils.
Is this a just judgment? We believe it is not. This is not to say that Italy during these months of war has given herself over to unthinking enthusiasm and has forgotten her skill in diplomacy. On the contrary, Italy's statesmen during these months have shown themselves worthy successors of those who helped to form Italy's great diplomatic traditions. Diplomacy does not necessarily mean intrigue, perfidy, selfishness. On the contrary, Italy's greatest diplomat and statesman united diplomacy with the cause of liberty, and used his statesmanship for the establishment of national unity based on freedom. And to-day, thanks to Cavour, Italy has grown to be a great nation under, one of the most democratic of kings.
The Italy that has entered this war is not the Italy of Machiavelli, the Italy of diplomatic intrigue; neither is it the Italy of mere radical idealism, the Italy of Mazzini. It is rather the Italy of Cavour—the Italy of both liberation and statesmanship.
Two years ago Italy had her warning. Then Austria and Germany proposed to do what they are doing now. They called upon Italy for support. Italy said, No; Germany held Austria in leash. A year later—last June and July—Austria and Germany, without consulting their ally, Italy, united in "their aggression upon Servia.
It is Austria that has brought Italy into the war. There may be found in history two Italys, but so far as international relations are concerned, only one Austria. Austria has never had a Cavour. And when last July she made war on Servia, repudiating all chance of peaceful settlement, declining the intervention of other Powers, and ignoring the rights and interests of her ally Italy, she made war on all of democratic Europe, and directly affronted and threatened Italy herself.
If Italy had then joined forces with France, England, and Russia, she would have been justified. But Italy was patient and waited. Thereupon began the interesting struggle between the two Italys within herself, between the two forces of official authority and of public opinion.
During the intervening months it has been clear that public opinion has been urging Italy into the war, and that official authority has been restraining Italy from war. Now at last official authority has yielded to public opinion and Italy has joined the Allies.
The official has been thinking largely of Italy's territorial opportunities, of its relation to the governments of other countries, of its future position geographically and diplomatically. He has also known what the possibilities of war are, what preparation for war involves, and what the results of war may be.
The man-in-the-street, on the other hand, is moved by more primitive instincts. He has not been anxious to get into the war for the sake of getting territory; he has not been concerned very much about the strategic value of a strait here or a harbor there. The common people of Italy have, rather, been moved by a common impulse toward national liberty and national unity, and they have been affected by their memories o£ what has happened to Italy in the past. The Italian people remember their struggle for liberation, and they remember that in that struggle their worst foreign foe was Austria. And mingled with their feelings aroused by the memory of their past is a feeling of comradeship for Italians living under Austrian rule across the Adriatic.
The Italian people may be mistaken, but they are not bent on a war of selfish aggression, they are not stirred by mere desire for self-defense, although they dimly see the dangers to Italy that would follow a defeat for the cause of the Allies. The disappearance of the revolutionary spirit arid of discontent shows that they have become united, as the Russian people have become united and the French people have become united, in the face of what each believes to be a great national cause. In entering the war on the side of liberty, democracy, and international law Italy places herself where she belongs. Under these circumstances war can only have upon the people of Italy the effect of unification, and upon Europe it will have the effect of making heavier the punishment that is destined to fall upon those who, in the name of autocracy, have trampled under foot the public law of nations.
II—From An Italian Point Of View
In order that our readers might be able to get the Italian point of view with regard to the war, a member of the editorial staff of The Outlook, in an interview, put to Signor Felice Ferrero a number of questions. Signor Ferrero, brother of Guglielmo Ferrero, whose historical works and whose essays are well known to the American public, is an experienced newspaper correspondent, and in the course of his duties has served in Berlin, in the Scandinavian countries, and in Austria. He is the American correspondent of the "Corriere della Sera," of Milan. We here print the questions as they were put to him and his answers:
1. Was Italy guilty of unfaithfulness in not joining Austria and Germany at the outset of the European war? Is Italy now guilty of unfaithfulness to her pledges as a member of the Triple Alliance in making war on Austria?
No, in both cases. The treaty of the Triple Alliance was of a strictly defensive character. Since Germany and Austria started an aggressive war, and, moreover, seized a very bad occasion for it, Italy was not bound to help them. It is to be remembered that Austria meant to attack Servia in 1913 and that Italy warned Austria then that she would refuse co-operation. Germany then sided with Italy and Austria abandoned the plan.
The treaty required its parties each to notify the others of any intended political move; Austria did this in 1913, but not in 1914, a fact which by itself rendered the treaty null and void. As a matter of further correctness, Italy formally withdrew from the Alliance on May 4, regaining her liberty of action.
2. Did Italy regard it as an offense against her for Austria and Germany, her allies, to make war on Servia without consulting her?
Yes. As stated above, the war against Servia was not only an offense but a breach of faith. Furthermore, Austria refused to guarantee the integrity of Servia in case of victorious outcome—which was one of the conditions that Italy put forth for her own neutrality.
3. Why is Italy at war with Austria?
Is it aggressive land hunger that has driven her, like the land hunger for which the Allies have condemned Germany?
How large a factor in this war is Italy's inherited distrust of Austria? Are the Italian people in the war because they believe the Allies are fighting for liberty and democracy and the public law of nations?
Are they fighting because they like the English and feel akin to the French and dislike the Teutons?
To a certain extent the desire for aggrandizement has moved Italy to act: this refers especially to her desire to expand in Albania. An excuse—if sought—may be found in the fact that the Albanians seem hopelessly incapable of orderly government and that Albania is a wild country in the completest sense of the word. Such a condition cannot continue in the midst of Europe; some Power or other is bound to be called upon to bring about a tolerable state of political organization there for the benefit of all. It is somewhat the case of America and the Filipinos, but in the very middle of things. Italy's claims are the greatest, since she has been for centuries the refuge for Albanians fleeing from Turkish oppression, and even now harbors a large Albanian population in southern Italy.
However, the chief factor in Italy's decision is the desire to satisfy her national aspirations. The national wars of Italy, 1848-70, unified the country only partially. Thanks to Prussia, Austria in 1866 was enabled to retain the Italian territories she now holds, and to arrange the frontier to suit herself. It should not be forgotten that the Italians of Austria have always been treated as a conquered population by the Government of the Empire of which they were nominally a part on equal terms—a fact officially admitted by the German Chancellor when, a few days ago, he solemnly announced to the Reichstag that Austria was willing to pledge fair treatment to her Italians, as a notable concession.
Political distrust (hatred, possibly) of Austria certainly made the decision easier, as did the strong sympathy of the Italian people for England and France and for English and French defense of free, constitutional government. The ruthlessness of German warfare and the oppression of Belgium have stirred Italy deeply; the sinking of the Lusitania probably did more than any other one thing to cement the unity of the people at the last moment and persuade the waverers.
4. In every war there is an element of calculation and an element of sentiment. How have these two elements been involved in this war? If Italy has wanted to enter the war for moral considerations, why did she not go into it at the beginning?
While the official crisis turned exclusively on Austro-Italian affairs, the people at large (and the Government indirectly) have been growing more and more concerned with the German side of the European controversy. Of late the Italians have shown themselves highly incensed against Germany—a condition unknown at the beginning of the war. The entrance of Italy into the war assumes, therefore, a character of anti-German as well as anti-Austrian intervention. Judged from this point of view, Italy's war is, then, not only one of national aspirations, but one of moral impulse, in which the elements of sentiment and fairness have a most decided prevalence over any element of calculation—at least as far, as the people are concerned.
In the action of the Government, calculation necessarily has its part, the function of a government being precisely that of regulating the impulses of the people according to its light of reason. It cannot be considered unfair, considering the serious risks of the undertaking, if Italy expects some compensation at the end of the war beyond the satisfaction of national aspirations, such as territory in Asia Minor. In like manner, the United States made war on Spain to free Cuba, but was indemnified by the cession of Porto Rico and the purchase of the Philippines.
As said above, the anti-German feeling was at first either wanting or very moderate; German behavior has gradually stirred it up. National aspirations were present, but these and moral impulse were at the beginning not sufficient to obscure the practical fact of Italy's lack of preparation for any action whatever.
5. If it is not land hunger, why has Italy been bargaining with Austria during all these months for territory which does not now belong to her?
An article of the treaty guaranteed Italy territorial advantages if Austria should gain any for herself. Austria occupied Bosnia and Herzegovina, but refused Italy the promised compensations. This is the legal base of the Austro-Italian pourparlers. However, as previously stated, over and around this Austro-Italian dissension there has grown in Italy a strong anti-German feeling, which has finally overshadowed it.
6. Even though some of this territory is occupied by Italians why has Italy been demanding territory occupied by Germans?
Judging from the fragmentary knowledge we have of Italy's Green Book through cable reports, Italy did not demand of Austria the cession of territory inhabited by Germans, i. e., the Tyrol. She was very reasonable even in the matter of Trieste, of which she finally asked, not the cession, but the creation into an independent state (not a free imperial city, as proposed by Austria). The territories claimed by Italy would naturally include some German or Slav villages—an inevitable fact, owing to the absence of any marked geographical separation along the line of contact. To offset this Italy did not lay any claim to territory where Italians live among populations preponderantly Slav, viz. the Italian city of Fiume, the coasts of Istria, some parts of Dalmatia, and the Italian city of Zara.
7. Is it not just as reprehensible for Italy to attempt to control the Adriatic as it is for Germany to try to get to the coast at Calais in order to be able to control or share in the control of the English Channel?
The idea of the Italian control of the Adriatic is a very simple one—that there should be in it no naval bases of any nation, whether Austrian or Servian or Italian, and that the sea should be open to the peaceful use and enjoyment of all. Such an ideal is impossible of realization as long as Austria has access to the Adriatic. In presenting her very moderate demands Italy implicitly accepted Austrian right to a naval base at Pola, and disavowed any intention of controlling the Adriatic herself.
8. Supposing Austria conceded to Italy all the territory she demanded, would the latter fight on moral grounds, anyway?
Concession is now too late; but, if Austria were to make it, the war would nevertheless go on. Germany is now too important an issue in the Italian mind.
9. Is there real conflict between official Italy and popular feeling? What part has the King had in this preparation for war? Is the pro-war feeling the outbreak of objection to German control in Italy? Did the Giolitti incident contribute to the outbreak?
No; the Government has naturally been more cautious. Delay in entering the conflict was due, not to dissension, but to the desire of the Government to be well prepared for the emergency. The at-all-cost neutralists are a very small minority. Many rumors have been circulated concerning the King; but the King of Italy is a strictly constitutional monarch and does not allow himself to cross the clearly expressed will of the people.
Pro-war and anti-German feeling has been fostered by German intrigue and the intervention of Bülow, who has played in Italy the same role that Dernburg tried here, and with the same results. The final and petty attempt of the Prince to corrupt newspapers and stir trouble in the internal politics of Italy added the last straw. Intense disgust followed the Giolitti intervention; this was a catastrophe both for Giolitti and Germany.
10. What effect will Italy's going into the war have on Rumania and the Balkans in general?
The intervention of Rumania and Bulgaria seems inevitable; that of Greece more doubtful. Greece is under strong German dynastic influence and seems to be regarded askance by Russia.
11. What part can Italy play in the war? Will it be to affect the fighting in Europe, or will it be mainly to contribute to the attack upon Constantinople and for the control of the Mediterranean?
The Austro-Italian frontier is so rugged, well fortified, and guarded on both sides that anything serious or decisive there is unlikely for the present. Just now the natural scene of action for Italy is the Dardanelles and Asia Minor around Smyrna (her assigned sphere of influence). After the fall of Constantinople, or upon the intervention of Rumania against Austria, Italian action directly against Austria would be easier. The most important result of the moment is the closing of the chief avenue of contraband supplies for Germany and of the only considerable market still open to German exports; this completes the English blockade.
12. How well prepared is Italy to stand the strain of war.
The war will, of course, be a severe strain on Italy's finances; but she is in a condition to meet the difficulty, both through her own internal resources (surplus, savings, etc.) and her credit abroad. Moreover, in the near prospect of crushing finally Prussian militarism and Austrian autocracy Italy as well as her new allies sees the radiant hope of at least partial disarmament, of coming freedom from the weight of heavy military budgets, and of prompt recovery after the great effort.
III—From An Austrian Point Of View
On the preceding pages Signor Felice Ferrero, through an interview, sets forth the Italian point of view on the causes and issues involved in the dispute with Austria-Hungary and Germany. In order to get a statement of the other side of the case, one of The Outlook's editorial staff interviewed Dr. Ervin Acél-Starhemberg, managing editor of the "Hungarian American Reformed Sentinel," and city editor of the "Hungarian Daily," two Hungarian papers published in New York City. Here are the questions which Dr. Acél-Starhemberg was asked, and his answers to them:
1. In accordance with the terms of the Triple Alliance, why did Austria-Hungary not notify Italy in the summer of 1914 of her intention to attack Servia?
Austria-Hungary did not notify Italy because as a member of the Triple Alliance Italy understood the matter very well; she was already notified in spirit. Austria had had three crises with Servia and Italy was always notified, and Italy knew perfectly well the purposes of Austria. Italy knew that the purpose of Austria was to punish Servia. Therefore it was not necessary to notify her again; and, furthermore, there was very little time for such notification. Moreover, it may be said here that Italy's interest is the opposite of the interest of Servia, because Servia and Italy both want to seize the east shore of the Adriatic Sea.
Should Russia be victorious in this war, Servia will get the east shore of the Adriatic and she will menace the hegemony of Italy over the entire Adriatic. Therefore every step which is taken by Austria-Hungary against Servia is to Italy's advantage. It is a vain, lame excuse on the part of Italy when she says that she takes up the sword because Austria-Hungary wishes to punish Servia or has designs on Servia's integrity.
2. What are Austria's intentions towards Servia?
When the war started, Austria had no intention of taking any part of Servia. She only wished to punish; but now, yes, now Austria intends to divide Servia, to wipe her out of existence entirely, because Servia is always a trouble to Austria-Hungary. Servia has caused Austria-Hungary to mobilize three times; she is always making trouble. Italy had some ambitions in the Balkan States and Austria-Hungary also had ambitions; but when Italy made war on Turkey for Tripoli, Austria and Italy made an agreement to the effect that Italy was to have Tripoli and that Austria was to have a free hand in the Balkans. Italy understood this perfectly; and that is the reason why she was not officially notified when the present war was declared. She understood, and she had already got her share of the spoils.
3. That is to say, then, that when Austria-Hungary took action against Servia last August she considered the treaty with Italy practically null and void? She considered any notification of her designs on Servia unnecessary?
Yes. Every question involved had been discussed with Italy many times; Italy knew every step; no official notification was necessary; and Italy had already had her remuneration.
4. In other words, Italy, had had her share of the profits of the Partnership, and therefore, it was only fair that she should stand-by when Austria took her share in the Balkans?
Yes. And the war was not a surprise. It was perhaps somewhat of a surprise that it came when it did; but all Europe knew that war would come. Every possibility of the war had been discussed many times by all the Governments in the Triple Alliance; and it positively had been discussed that Servia should be punished. Italy agreed to this; and it was not necessary to notify her again. And, furthermore, as I have said, Austria had no time; she gave even Germany only scant notification in advance; but Germany stood by.
5. Austria, then, was frankly moved by greed in her action against Servia.
No, not at all; because Servia is a very poor land, and Austria-Hungary already has many Servians in the Dual Monarchy. The Servians have always caused trouble; and we do not need more, Austria wants to divide Servia because Servia is always a trouble. Servia is like a foreign substance in our body; she causes constant inflammation.
6. Then Austria wants to remove Servia as a Slavic peril always causing trouble.
Yes. Now the whole map of Europe will be changed, and we shall abolish "Servia. She is an inflammation in our body.
7. How will you abolish her?
We shall divide Servia between Bulgaria and Albania, and keep a part for ourselves.
8. Some of the Italians say that Italians living within Austrian territory are unfairly treated by the Austrian Government, and that they have not the same rights as Austrians. Is that true?
It is not true that Italians are unfairly treated. In Fiume and Trieste the whole administration is Italian—not German or Hungarian, but Italian. The language of the tribunals is Italian. The Italians have all rights. In Dalmatia there is a very small percentage of the population Italian; the larger part is Slavic, and so we cannot afford that this part shall be administered in Italian; but where the Italians predominate there the administration is Italian and all Italians have the full rights of citizenship.
9. If Austria was right in her action against Servia, why has she been so ready to bargain with Italy?
We knew we were right; but, for example, when you are attacked on the street by a highwayman you may know you are right, and yet bargain with him. That is the answer.
10. What will be the outcome of the war so far as Italy is concerned?
My opinion is that Italy will not at all influence the general situation. Italy cannot attack Austria directly, because of the well-fortified mountain ranges that are a natural bulwark for Austria on her Italian frontier. Of course there is another way to attack, by way of Servia and Montenegro. But that will take from three to five hundred thousand soldiers, and the way is long; and when she gets into Servia she will find it infested with typhus, which will decimate the Italian army. Further impediments are the bad roads in Servia and Montenegro, and the broad Danube and Save rivers. Now, on the other hand, it is very easy for Austria to attack Italy. The Trentino runs into the very heart of Italy like a gun-barrel, and all Austria needs to do is to pull the trigger. Thus the richest part of Italy will be destroyed as Belgium and northern France have been destroyed; and it may happen that the people of the Po Valley will see again "barbarians" from the north pour down from the slopes of the icy Alps.
It may also be that Italy will send troops into France, or perhaps to the Dardanelles; but the latter course is unnecessary because when the Allies want to take the Dardanelles they have the men for it. They do not need Italy.
Italy cannot do much to aid the Allies in the west, however. The German wall cannot be broken. It may be that the combined English, French, and Italian armies will be stronger than the German armies, but a stronger army is of little use unless it can envelop the weaker army—then only is it effective. And the Allies cannot envelop the German line because it is flanked by the North Sea and Switzerland. Thus Italy will attack us in vain and cannot divert us from the crushing of Russia.
11. Then in the end Austria-Hungary will be the dominating factor in the Balkans?
Yes. Austria will take what Italy and Servia intended to take in the Balkans and in the Adriatic. This war will be really an expedition of punishment for Italian treachery.
12. Do you think that Italy's entry into the war will bring other Balkan states in on the side of the Allies?
It may be that Rumania will go in, and possibly Greece. Bulgaria will remain neutral. Rumania's real interests are with us, not with Russia; but if the Dardanelles are taken by Russia, then Rumania's commerce will suffer—will be ruined, in fact, for her main product is corn, and Russia is her great rival in the export of this grain. Rumania is between Servia, Montenegro, and Russia; and it is very likely that Russia, for the purpose of reaching Servia and the Adriatic, will invade Rumania. Rumania was always with us, but now she is losing her head. She is not compelled to go in with either side; she may feel that Russia is stronger than Austria-Hungary, and therefore go over to her; but her interest is with us.
IV—Three Italian Leaders
The three Italians most talked about now are the King, the Prime Minister, and the Foreign Secretary. No one can have seen the little Prince of Naples a generation ago in Rome and at the same time have fancied him as he is to-day, a rugged-looking, intellectual, forceful man. An only child of Humbert I, who had married his cousin, the beautiful Princess Margaret, Victor Emmanuel had not the start in life enjoyed by most boys. Realizing this, his father gave him a Spartan training. The result is apparent to-day in a monarch of courage, wisdom, and firm will, one who realizes the qualities of his great ancestor Charles Albert of Savoy.
Of course, as Prince, Victor Emmanuel held himself studiously aloof from politics. The only occasion when he is said by the Romans to have infringed upon this rule occurred in 1896, after the awful disaster at Adowa, in Africa, when thousands of Italian soldiers were killed by the Abyssinians, guided by French and Russian officers. Then, so Roman gossip says, the Prince of Naples did actively and strenuously beg his father to stop the war, and so did some other friends of Italy.
At home the King has been a prime mover in all measures of economic and educational reform. Particularly, however, his has been an influence morally. From an age when a king's licentiousness was accepted as a matter of course, we have now come to a time when monarchs are expected to be examples of ideal family life. Especially notable in this regard is the King of Italy. He makes no secret of the fact that his first thought is of his lovely wife and charming children. The other day the King's physician called at the palace and was summoned to the royal presence. He found the King and Queen and all their children seated on the floor in the nursery playing a game.
But no joys of domesticity prevent the King of Italy from doing his full public duty, and that means his duty with regard to foreign as much as regards home policies. When he came to the throne, he realized that Italy, though bound by the Triple Alliance to Germany and Austria, needed to emphasize her wider position in the world. The prosecution of the King's plan in this respect has immeasurably strengthened Italy's position throughout the present war. He brought the relations with England closer. He promoted trade treaties with France; he improved the dynastic relations with the Russian Imperial family, actually giving St. Petersburg priority over Berlin in making his round of European capitals. His cordial relations with the German Imperial family, however, were in contrast to those with Austria. He realized that Germany's relations with Italy were almost wholly commercial and free from hereditary resentments, while, but for the Triple Alliance, Austro-Italian relations would be only an armed truce.
He now meets Austria as an enemy. No one who has followed the King's wisely ordered life has any doubt as to his conduct of the coming campaign.
THE PRIME MINISTER
On another page we present portraits of the King and of Signor Antonio Salandra, the Prime Minister. Signor Salandra will always be notable, we believe, in Italian history for one thing, and that is his steadfast refusal of all Austrian concessions. He represents in an eminent degree the popular feeling that Austria is an enemy, and that this enemy cannot be compromised with, but must be faced on the field of battle. Hence he has made preparations for war in the most vigorous manner. A remarkable incident in this respect occurred last October. Signor Salandra had been Premier about six months when he was forced to resign as the result of a crisis precipitated by the refusal of Signor Rubini, Minister of Finance, to approve expenditures for war preparation unless the revenue was increased by new taxes. Premier Salandra insisted that preparations for war be undertaken at any cost and that the deficit be remedied later. King Victor Emmanuel at once intrusted to Signor Salandra the task of forming a new Cabinet, which was chiefly noteworthy because Baron Sidney Sonnino, himself twice Premier of Italy and a statesman of pronounced British sympathies, was chosen as Minister of Foreign Affairs, a portfolio which had been rendered vacant by the death of the Marquis di San Giuliano.
Signor Salandra comes from South Italy. He is a Liberal, but with Conservative leaning. Hitherto his reputation has rested chiefly upon his ability as a financier. He has proved to be just the man to introduce the new financial measures in order to meet the situation created by the Tripolitan War, and also to secure the many other millions necessary in order to raise the footing of the Italian army to a condition of readiness to meet the actual situation.
The third man of moment in Italy is perhaps the most important of the three. It has already been noted that Sidney Sonnino was a statesman of British sympathies. This is not unnatural, for his mother was English and he was educated at Oxford. At the time of the formation of the Salandra Cabinet the selection of such a man was regarded as significant of the probable attitude of the new Ministry. And so it proved. No one in Italy or elsewhere, probably, has seen more clearly the real forces at work under the present convulsion in Europe than has Baron Sonnino. In order to fit his country properly to play her great part in the drama he needed "the cold head" of an Englishman as well as the warm heart of an Italian. He needed to hold his emotional countrymen back until Italy was entirely ready by land and by sea to do what every one expected of her. In all the diplomatic negotiations which have led to the fateful result Baron Sonnino has been opposed by such masters of diplomacy as Prince von Bülow and Baron Macchio, respectively the German and Austrian Ambassadors at Rome. The Green Book now published by the Italian Government, and in particular that Government's explanatory note to the American Government, reveal not only the methods and results of Sidney Sonnino's skill and determination, they disclose also the ideals of humanity and democracy which animate and inspire the ex-Prime Minister's every effort.
A RAPID SURVEY OF EVENTS WHICH HAVE OCCURRED
ON THE ITALO-AUSTRIAN BORDER
1027. The Emperor Conrad II bestows all temporal rights in the district about the city of Trent, known as the Trentino, to the Bishop, thus detaching it from Italy.
1203. Venice captures Trieste.
1363. Austria acquires the Tyrol.
1382. Leopold III of Austria becomes Overlord of Trieste.
1803. Austria annexes the Trentino,
1847. The "Risorgimento," a daily progressive paper, appears at Turin; editor, Camillo Cavour.
1848. Venice proclaimed a Republic. Insurrection in Austria, especially in the Tyrol.
1852. Cavour Premier of Piedmont.
1857. Austria remonstrates at the attacks of the Sardinian and Piedmontese free press; firm reply of Count Cavour. Rupture of diplomatic relations between Austria and Sardinia.
1859. Austria fortifies the banks of the Ticino, the boundary river between her Italian provinces and Piedmont. The Austrians cross the Ticino. Napoleon III declares war to expel the Austrians from Italy, and his troops enter Piedmont. The Austrians are defeated at Montebello, Palestro, Magenta, and Solferino. Peace of Villafranca. Lombardy is given up to Sardinia. Garibaldi's appeal.
1860. Tuscany is annexed to Sardinia. Austria protests against this step in Italian unification. Victor Emmanuel commands the Italian army. Austria increases her army in Venetia.
1861. Civil and political rights granted to Protestants throughout the Austrian Empire except in Venetia and Hungary. Victor Emmanuel King of Italy. Death of Count Cavour.
1866. Italy declares war on Austria.
Austria defeats Italy at Custozza and in naval battle near Lissa. The Austrian Emperor cedes Venetia to the French Emperor. Venetia surrendered to the Italians. When the terms of peace were under discussion, the Italian patriot Mazzini declared that Italy should receive from Austria not only the province of Venice (Venetia), which she did receive, but also the Trentino and Istria, which she did not.
First as to the Trentino. Let us look at a map of Italy. We see that the northern boundary is sharply broken by a jog, the Trentino, southward. This territory, geographically distinguished by the mountains of the Dolomites, has a population at least four-fifths Italian. Hence, from a standpoint of race and language, the Austrian front is a wedge driven between the Italian provinces of Lombardy and Venetia. From a military standpoint, the Trentino is the key from the north to the valley of the Po. Moreover, in climate and production the Trentino is an integral part of Italy.
As to Istria, the peninsula on the eastern Adriatic opposite Venice, there are two reasons for its acquirement. The first is that the eastern shore of the Adriatic is rich in excellent harbors, whereas the western shore is largely without harbors. Hence Italy finds herself at a disadvantage. The second reason is that in Istria the cities are still practically Italian, though the country is Slav. There has been a great revival of Slavic sentiment and a demand that the Slav language shall have the same rights in the schools and courts and public offices as the Italian language enjoys. Now, in Istria, the Slavs are more numerous and prolific than are the Italians. Italians therefore wish to see that none of the territories in which Italian is spoken to-day shall ever forget that tongue.
1882, The Triple Alliance established by Germany, Austria, and, Italy.
1900. Austria refuses to permit the establishment of Italian universities at Rovereto and Trieste.
1911. Italy declares war against Turkey, and Austria mobilizes on the Italian frontier. Austria also prevents the Duke of the Abruzzi from carrying out naval operations to Italy's advantage, along the Albanian coast.
1912. Austria and Italy unite on action in Albania.
1913. Italy checks Austria's designs on Servia.
1914. Austria sends an ultimatum to Servia without notifying Italy, thus contravening Article I of the Triple Alliance Treaty.
1915. Austria offers territorial concessions to be effective at the close of the present war. Austria tries, though belatedly, to keep Italy quiet by offering the following concessions, which were also guaranteed by Germany:
First—Part of the Tyrol inhabited by Italians was to be ceded to Italy.
Second—The western bank of the Isonzo, in so far as the population was purely Italian, and the town of Gradisca likewise, were to be ceded to Italy.
Third—Trieste was to be made an imperial free city, receiving an administration which would insure the Italian character of the city and to have an Italian university.
Fourth—Italian sovereignty over Avlona (a seaport of Albania) and a sphere of interest belonging thereto to be recognized.
Fifth—Austria-Hungary should declare her political disinterestedness regarding Albania.
Sixth—The national interests of Italians in Austria to be particularly respected.
Seventh—Austria-Hungary to grant amnesty to political military prisoners belonging to the ceded territory.
Eighth—The further wishes of Italy regarding the general question to be assured every consideration.
Ninth—Austria-Hungary, after the conclusion of the agreement, to give a solemn declaration concerning the concessions.
Tenth—Mixed committees for the regulation of the details of the concessions to be appointed.
Eleventh—After the conclusion of the agreement Austro-Hungarian soldiers, natives of the occupied territories, shall not further participate in the war.
But these concessions, large as they are, did not satisfy Italy, in comparison with what the "Giornale d'Italia" announces as the basis of Italy's agreement with the Triple Entente Powers—England, France, and Russia:
First—Annexation to Italy of Trentino, Istria, Pola, Fiume, Zara, and Dalmatia up to the Narate River.
Second—Annexation to Italy of the Dodecannesso, an archipelago of twelve units conquered by the Italians in their war with the Turks three years ago.
Third—Annexation of Avlona and of the surrounding territory.
Fourth—-Ratification of the occidental confines of Libya, assigning to Italy a vast extension of Tunisia.
Fifth—Constitution of an independent Croatian state.
Sixth—Annexation to Italy of a portion of the Ottoman Empire in proportion to the Italian inhabitants.
Seventh—-Participation of Italy in the partition of the German colonies.
This would give Italy all she demands of Austria, and in addition a share of the spoils of war to be taken from Turkey and Germany.
May, 1915. Italy demands the immediate effectiveness of larger concessions. Austria refuses. Italy declares war.
VI—A Poll Of The International Press
"The situation of Italy," says the Rome "Giornale d'Italia," ''became intolerable when Austrian and German aggression against Servia caused the European conflagration without giving previous notification to Rome." As the "Giornale" has long been supposed to reflect the opinions of ex-Premier Sonnino, now Foreign Minister, and as it has lately been looked upon as an administration mouthpiece, its further statements are specially noteworthy:
Italy legitimately undertook to protect her own interests according to the rights granted her by the Triple Alliance Treaty.
Austria, despite German good offices, blindly and obstinately resisted Italy's just demands, rendering inevitable acute antagonism. Therefore Austria alone is responsible for the new war, although Germany is not entirely blameless, but Italy, did everything humanly possible to prevent it.
The influential Milan "Secolo" is delighted. It has long urged that Italy give active support to England, France, and Russia, not only because of legitimate territorial ambition, but also because of sympathy with the nations fighting for democracy against aristocracy. More cautiously, the Milan "Perseveranza" warns against anything that savors of clamor or boisterousness or selfish party ends, and the "Vittoria" prophesies the unlikeliness that any one Power will predominate in Europe after the war, while the "Popolo d'Italia" summarizes the result of radicalism versus conservatism, as it declares that "revolutionary Italy has risen and has demanded war."
All the newspapers of Italy give expression to the seriousness of the task that Italy has undertaken. The "Corriere della Sera" of Milan, for instance, perhaps the most widely read paper in Italy, after comparing the strength of the Italian and Austrian fleets, warns the nation that a victory for Italy can be obtained only after grave sacrifices and hard trials. The newspaper says that submarines and mines have radically altered naval warfare, giving the advantage to the defensive navy over an attacking force of war-ships. It cites as an example of this the fact that Great Britain and France, although maintaining dominion of the seas, have suffered great losses in both ships and men through mines and submarines. Italy, according to the "Corriere," must expect the same treatment. The close proximity of the two shores of the Adriatic, it says, renders Italy more exposed than the northern Allies. The Austrian coast is rich in naval bases, the newspaper continues, while the Italian coast is without one secure natural refuge for modern war-ships.
Direct quotations from the Vienna papers have not been printed in American journals, but this telegram from Vienna to the pro-Austrian Frankfurter Zeitung;; has been printed :
"The exasperation and contempt which Italy's treacherous surprise attack and her hypocritical justification arouse here (Vienna) are quite indescribable.
Neither Servia nor Russia, despite a long and costly war, is hated, Italy, however, or rather those Italian would-be politicians and business men who offer violence to the majority of peaceful Italian people, are unutterably hated.
Two quotations are at hand from Prague papers, which are of particular interest as indicating that the Bohemian part of the Slav race is, at least outwardly, loyal to Austria. The "Narodanceni Politaka," discussing editorially the entrance of Italy into the war, says: "The monarchy has no fear of the war, which it will undergo victoriously and gloriously with all the more certitude because of the loyal assistance of Germany." And the "Hlas Naroda" declares that the people of Austria and Hungary prefer a passage-at-arms with Italy to an untrustworthy and untenable friendship purchased with very heavy sacrifices.
The "Berliner Tageblatt," a representative German paper, refers to Italians as disciples of Machiavelli, and declares that it has now nothing but illimitable contempt for Italy:
"We have loved Italy," it says, "according to German traditions, and done our best to secure Italian unity. We understood best the weakness of the Italian character. It is not too much to say that the Italian people may one day turn round. Then it would not only look very queer for the Cabinet of Salandra, but it might also touch the throne, and those who to-day call 'Hosanna!' may to-morrow cry 'Crucify him!'"
According to the military critic of the "Tageblatt," the addition of Italy to the hostile side means for the central Powers and Turkey merely a postponement of their final victory; though not in the same degree now as would have been the case months ago.
The "Vossische Zeitung" calls it a subsidized war.
"On our part," it adds, "every word forced from our choking throats by moral disgust would be too much. Let us not utter words of complaint, but grind our teeth and use other weapons than words to the new enemy."
SWISS AND FRENCH OPINION
The Trentino is doubtless dearer to Italian aspiration than all the other demands put together. The Swiss "Journal de Genève" thus describes the district;
The Trentino is a wedge thrust from the Alpine chain and penetrating into the heart of Lombardy and Venetia. Austria has made a formidable camp of it, a strong base of operations and a sure base in case of retreat. As long as Italy sees this gate to her house occupied by another Power she will have reasons of fear and apprehension each time that the political horizon becomes darkened, and hence she must keep a larger number of troops on an active footing.
Aside from expressions of racial sympathy for Italy the French newspapers note that Italy's course points the way to other nations, including America. For example, the Paris "Temps:"
What will America do? Italy gives an example of the noblest course.
Germany cannot hurt America, but the latter possesses inexhaustible reserves of men and can seize German shipping worth many millions. How important Germany considers American friendship is shown by the efforts of Count von Bernstorff and Dr. Dernburg. Whatever may be Germany's reply, one fact is certain—Germany has lost American sympathy utterly.
The general view of the people of Great Britain is expressed, for instance, by the London "Morning-Post:"
The people of this country will welcome Italy as an ally, not merely because of the new strength given to the Allies' arms, but because of the old amity and understanding between the British and Italian nations, We are proud to have the Italians fighting with us in the great cause of liberation a cause the vindication of which must have such far-reaching consequences for the destiny of Italy.
All the Great Powers that stand for freedom are now ranged side by side in one camp.
Why does Italy enter the war? The Buffalo "Enquirer" answers:
Outside of a more advantageous deal with the Allies, however, is the reasoning of the Italians that they must fight for their gains if they would keep them. Whatever territorial concessions Austria might make now would be made under duress. That fact would supply reason for Austrian attempt to recover the lost possessions whenever conditions afforded the opportunity. These are days when treaties are no longer respected. The Italians suspect that a victorious Germanic alliance would not leave them in possession of territory extorted by threats, and are quite sure the Allies, if victorious, would not permit them to profit by mere neutrality.
And, more broadly, the New York Times:
The Italian Premier believed that public opinion in Italy would reject concessions', no matter how intrinsically acceptable, if their execution was postponed to a post-bellum time. Germany's guarantee apparently was insufficient to overcome the popular distrust of the Austrian neighbor. That was where the spirit counted more than anything else. Again and again the Italian Premier refers to the state of public opinion, to its impatience, to its "anger." Public opinion in Italy controlled the situation and determined the event.
And the Washington "Herald:"
However much the American people may be disposed to criticise the course of Italy's diplomats and statesmen, they can hardly withhold their sympathies from the Italian populace. It is their own war, and even while their Parliament and their Ministers may have had legitimate reasons for prolonging diplomacy and staving off hostilities, it was the voice of the people sounded weeks ago that made war inevitable. The statesmanship of the Government leaders may have been lofty and efficient, but they appear at a disadvantage before the world as bargainers for a price for war or peace. The clamor of the people for the taking up of arms may have justified condemnation from a humane standpoint as well as from that of expediency, but theirs must be the role of courageous patriots, too proud to idly watch the world-struggle upon whose finish hinges their fate.
What we are now facing, however, is something more than a contest between rival Powers, as the New York "Tribune" says. It proceeds thus:
It was that when France and Prussia were at war in 1870. It is more than a quarrel over commerce or provinces. It is a fight to preserve the individuality of nations. It is a battle to save Europe from being German, as the Napoleonic wars became a contest to save Europe from French domination....
The entrance of Italy is, in fact, the crisis of the great war, and we are living through one of the great periods in human history. Whatever be the immediate ends of the Italian people, however selfish the incidental occasion of the declaration of war, it will remain a landmark in history because it will promise, as did the entrance of Austria into the Napoleonic strife a century ago, the beginning of the end of a great dream founded upon injustice, upon the repeal of all that civilization and religion have won for the world in centuries.
© J. Fred MacDonald, 2013
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THE HEADLONG FURY
A Novel of World War One
By J. Fred MacDonald