THOMAS NELSON PAGE
ITALY AND THE WORLD WAR
ITALY AND THE LAST CAMPAIGN
THE situation in Italy in June was an appalling one. Italy, with an outburst of sudden force which even her own leaders may well have believed impossible, had hurled the Austrians back across the Piave along the greater part of the Piave's course, and had wrested from their grasp the positions on the Asiago and the Grappa which, if retained, would have rendered inevitable the abandonment of the Asiago-Grappa-Piave line and the loss of Venice: the Queen of the Adriatic.
But even after this extraordinary outburst of fury and power the situation was sufficiently grave to cause deep anxiety. The Austrians still retained positions from which they had not been dislodged, which were a standing menace should they become reorganized and stiffened by German assistance; and of this, it was believed in Italy, there was serious danger when Germany should realize that she could not break through to Paris. They held the positions in the delta of the Piave, and where the mountains came down to the plains the Grappa was still partly under their guns. The class of 1900 had been thrown into the mill. There was a thrill at the achievement of the seventeen-year-old boys. But Italy had ground her seed-corn. Had the Italians had more assistance when they drove the Austrians back across the Piave, they might have cleared the Venetian Plain, and possibly even have struck so heavily as to have crushed the Austrian army then and there and thus have brought Germany to terms before the summer closed. This, at least, the Italians thought and later asserted.(120) But without such support, they could not follow up their success, as it would have left them in an exposed position, with a much longer line; their army greatly exhausted; and the extended lines of communication running through a region devastated by the Enemy, with roads broken and bridges destroyed. Thus, the Enemy was given the opportunity to recover from his demoralization and reorganize his armies---an opportunity which was promptly availed of, under the encouragement of the German advance to the Marne.
The tide in France turned July 18, when Foch struck the German salient that had reached and actually crossed the Marne. It was, however, only by such fighting as the world had never seen before this war, and rarely in this war, that he broke the impetus of the triumphant German advance and flung them back across the Marne; across the Ourcq; across the Vesle; across the Aisne; and presently, across the Somme and the Meuse. It was a long and terrible struggle. It covered nearly four months of as desperate fighting as at any time during the war. There never was a moment when the cause did not hang in the balance, and when any relaxation might not have swung the scale the other way. Every resource that could be brought into play was called upon and flung into the Titanic battle.
The third German offensive in France which began May 27 and was directed toward Château-Thierry had a success which developed a desperate situation for the Allies. The French lines had been stretched to the point of breaking; their reserves had been substantially exhausted and in this critical moment the Americans were thrown in to fill the gap, and filled it so effectually that immediately on their repulse of the Enemy, the Allies were able to pass to a successful offensive. Belleau Wood was seized and cleared by the Americans---Marines and Regulars---in a continuous battle from June 5 to 25. It marked a turning-point.
The advance began, as has been stated, on July 18, when on the western side of the great Marne salient the Americans---as to whom the prevailing view among the Allies had previously been that they were "suitable only for defense" ---and a French Moroccan Division, had been used as "the spearhead of the main attack, with the result that the counter-offensive was of decisive importance." "Due to the magnificent dash and power displayed on the field of Soissons by our First and Second Divisions," says the American Commander, "the tide of war was definitely turned in favor of the Allies."(121)
The clearing of the Marne salient was practically accomplished by the early part of August; that of the Amiens salient followed promptly and the Germans, fighting desperately, were driven back to the Vesle and put on the defensive.
By this time the power of the Americans was sufficiently recognized by the Allied Commanders to lead to the acceptance of General Pershing's firm proposal that a separate sector should be confided to the American Army. This sector included the now noted San Mihiel salient which the Germans had held firmly since September, 1914, as one of the bastions of their lines, and which commanded the Paris-Nancy Railroad and also that which leads from San Mihiel to Verdun. If captured it would provide "an advantageous base of departure against the Metz-Sedan Railroad system which was vital to the German armies west of Verdun, and against the Briey Iron Basin which was necessary for the production of German armaments and munitions."
After its capture Pershing's Army which consisted of fifteen American Divisions, six in reserve, and four French Divisions was to join in the general battle which was set to take place along the whole front, the Americans driving forward on the Meuse-Argonne front which had been practically stabilized in September, 1914.
The complete success of the San Mihiel operation and the successful carrying out of the second part of the programme by Pershing, with his Americans, contributed to the great. success attained by Foch's forces who were engaged now in the crucial battle extending along the whole line from the North Sea to the Swiss border, a battle which covered the entire period from the middle of September to the hour in November when the German messengers of defeat passed through the French lines to ask an armistice at the hands of the Allies.(122)
"We have won," said the British Premier nearly a year later, when he laid the Peace Treaty on the table of the House of Commons, "but how close we came to losing! My God! how close it was!"
While the two sides were locked in a death-grapple in France, in Italy also was a struggle going on not less Titanic, nor less decisive.
Although she had thrown the enemy back across the Piave, and from the heights that dominated the centre of her long curved line and threatened her flank, Italy still faced the peril of a renewal of an attack which, if the thrust could be driven home, would force her back to the Po; cut, from her several more of her richest and most cherished provinces, capture Venice, her only naval base on the upper Adriatic, and the token and seal of her integrity; and possibly bring about her complete collapse. Should such a catastrophe occur now, even though Foch, with France, England, and America to give their all to him for the purpose, should force the German armies back to the Rhine, Italy would be lost.
That this was a real danger, few in Italy doubted. In Italy's condition of depletion, apparently all that Austria had to do, intrenched behind the Piave and on the mountains above the Italian lines, was to hold her present line and wait till Italy's exhausted forces collapsed, worn out with the long struggle. She still held the dominating Alpine heights; she still held the provinces of the Veneto, protected by the Piave before her; she still held Istria and the secure reaches of the inner waterway behind the Dalmatian islands. And with these advantages of position, she had sixty-three and a half divisions to fifty-six on the Italian side, including five British and French divisions, and one Czecho-Slovak division. In the matter of artillery, Austria had also a superiority of some 1,200 guns. Added to this was a steadily growing feeling among the People that Italy was being deliberately kept isolated and kept down; that her Allies, especially France, were in some manner barring the way to prevent American troops from coming through to Italy, and that France was doing this to keep Italy isolated and dependent on her. Feeling against France began to deepen.
This feeling was, doubtless, one of the reasons why Italy would not place her armies under Marshal Foch. It was intimated---by those who had no Governmental responsibility---that France might, if she had the command, denude the Italian front and sacrifice Italy to save herself.
Meantime, means of living were growing more and more narrow; the People were becoming more and more worn and exhausted. Italian currency depreciated more and more, and prices rose higher and higher.(123)
As earnest efforts as could be made with propriety were made to secure the despatch of a reasonable number of American troops to Italy, if even only for training, with a view to the moral effect, and also to the amelioration of economic conditions in Italy. But the military authorities in France were not favorable to the proposal.(124) They considered their presence in France more important. It was considered there that Italy could hold defensively the Asiago-Piave line without further assistance, and that no evidence had been given that General Diaz contemplated an offensive. It was intimated that if he should fight and get worsted, then it would be time enough to send him support. Indeed, it was intimated that he ought to fight that Italy ought to make an offensive such as was now being made in France.(125)
Diaz was not only a soldier; he was an authority on military science. He had studied it and written books on it that had taken high rank. His position now was, that situated as the opposing forces were, with the enemy superior to him in position, numbers, and matériel, he must confine himself to the defensive until some favorable occasion should present itself, or until the morale of the enemy should become impaired, and thus give a promise of an engagement on more equal terms. This opportunity the Italian Commander patiently awaited, and at the same time sought every occasion to feel out the Enemy, and not only obtain information as to his intention and power, but ascertain as exactly as possible the state of his morale. Thus, all along the Italian front there were continual engagements, local in nature, but yet with a definite purpose which at the proper juncture would lead to a general offensive. That the Enemy's morale was declining was now beginning to be recognized, and efforts were increased to extend the propaganda which it was believed was undermining the Austrian power and would, by detaching large elements of those subject to her domination, weaken her to a point at which she might be overthrown.
The belief that the overthrow of the Central Empires would be accomplished more easily, and the World War brought to a close more quickly through Austria-Hungary than through Germany had long been held by Italians, and this idea had been earnestly pressed for some time before the final collapse of the Dual Monarchy. The arguments, briefly, were that Austria-Hungary was composed of a number of subject Peoples who, although good fighters, were now tired and possibly sufficiently affected by the propaganda of Liberty to fight with less resolution if they found all the Allies united in the attack on Austria. This had been the road by which the Roman Legions had passed to carry the dominion of Rome to the Danube and beyond the Danube. Napoleon's genius had selected this route to bring Austria to his feet, and then Prussia. With the collapse of Austria, Bulgaria and Turkey would come to terms, and the whole Balkan Peninsula would fall away from Germany. Should her principal ally succumb, Germany finding her flank exposed, would have to divide her forces to defend herself, and would without doubt be more amenable than now. The issue of events showed that the arguments were entitled to be received with more respect than they were received with by those to whom they were addressed. The sheer truth is that they were received with no respect at all. Not another soldier was sent to Italy, though Italy's contention was that whereas she had been given guarantees that a large part of the Austrian forces would be contained on Austria's Eastern front, since Russia's collapse substantially all of Austria's forces were being thrown against her.
In September the wind was blowing fairer and fairer for the Allies. Bulgaria was manifestly showing signs of giving way under the hammering of the Allied Army under General Franchet-d'Espérey, with the Italians on the left wing, the Serbs, French, British, and Greeks on the centre and right, all pressing firmly forward. In the middle of September the Bulgarians began to break, and east of Monastir, they were driven from their strong mountain-positions, and the French and Serbs hammered their way forward up the Scherna, driving before them the Bulgarians who, with antique revengefulness, burned and destroyed all the villages through which they retreated. The Serbs, inspired by old fires which had been relighted, forced their way to the Vardar, cut the railway, and separated the two Bulgarian armies between Prilip and Krivolak, and pushed on toward Uskub and Prilip. Velos and Istip were occupied as the French and Serbs drove forward. In the Dorian district the British and Greeks made rapid progress. The Italians to the west, inspired with resolution not to leave to others either the glory or the material rewards of victory, were vying with the French in clearing up the region before them. Bulgaria was now rapidly crumbling. The confine was passed; Strumnitza was occupied, and the advance-squadrons struck for Uskub to head off the retreating Bulgarians.
It was now evident that Bulgaria must give up, and the Prime Minister sent a deputation with a white flag to ask of General Franchet-d'Espérey an armistice, and offer surrender. The terms granted were substantially Unconditional surrender. They included the demobilization of the Bulgarian Armies; evacuation of Serbia, and free access through Bulgaria to the Danube, where Austria could be struck vitally. They were accepted, and Turkey was at last cut off from contact with her allies. Germany made a feint of disavowing the offer of Bulgarian surrender, on the ground that it was made without authority. But technical points are of little value against triumphant armies, and it was too late now. Bulgaria was "down and out." King Ferdinand abdicated and his son, Boris, was placed on the throne by the Allies and reigned in his stead.
The turn of Turkey came next, and was coming rapidly.
The Turks had held on stoutly enough in Palestine; but a little after the middle of September, they suffered a heavy defeat. A gap was made in the lines which they had hitherto held stretched across the entire country, and the British Cavalry passed through and began an encircling movement and cut off their retreat, while Allenby's main army fell upon them with irresistible ardor, and crushed them. The Turkish armies were severally defeated, fighting on ground which made the war-bulletins sound as though they were chapters from the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel. The fords of the Jordan were seized and the railway was held by the Arab forces of the Ring of the Hedjaz. Nazareth was taken (September 20), Acre was captured, Tiberias was occupied, and Allenby's forces pushed on to Damascus, gathering up prisoners and guns and war material. Damascus was occupied October 1, and they pushed on to capture Beirut and Aleppo and open a way to Constantinople. Beirut, already under the guns of the French fleet, was occupied October 7, and Aleppo was captured just before the end of October (27). It was the chief military base of Turkey in Asia, and with its capture, and the destruction of the Turkish armies, the way was open to Constantinople. About the same time, the end of October, the British force on the Tigris, under Colonel Marshall, defeated and captured the Turkish force on the Tigris.
Turkey now asked for an armistice, which was given, and .took effect October 31, she having accepted the terms dictated at Mudros. These were, the opening of the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus, with the surrender of the forts of both to the Allies; the clearing away of all mines; the surrender of all war-vessels and shipping; the immediate evacuation of all territory outside of Turkey, and the immediate release and return of all prisoners.
In France from the time when Foch, now in command of all the Allied Armies there, flung himself on the side of the great salient which Hindenburg had pushed toward Paris, and began to force in the side, there had been a continuous struggle with the ever-increasing balance of success on the side of the forces of Liberty. All through August it went on, from Arras around to Belfort---from the North Sea to the Swiss border---the heaviest blows falling now on the upper left flank, now on the centre, now on the right flank. And all the time the enemy was being forced back---driven across river after river and from line after line---and France was being freed and the world was being freed. Foch and his lieutenants: Pétain, Humbert and Mangin and Gouraud; Haig and Pershing and many another Master of military science, with their lieutenants, officers and men, were fighting the battle that was to crush forever the dreadful Power that had brought the terrible catastrophe on Humanity, and establish the régime of International organization for Peace in the world.
All through September and October the great battle raged without cessation---without pause. The enemy was driven from the Vesle; he was driven from the Aisne-the great Hindenburg Line was smashed; he was driven back fighting desperately---now making an apparent countergain, but in the end driven back---freeing cities and regions whose names had been burnt into men's hearts through all the desperate campaigns, till they had become the symbols of aspiration or defeat. They were now to become the symbols of aspiration and victory forever---Soissons, the Chemin des Dames, Bapaume and Péronne, La Fère, Laon, Cambrai and St. Quentin, and St. Mihiel and the Argonne; Ypres, Dixmude, and Lille; Ostend, Douai, Vouziers, and many another river and forest, city and town and village, some of which, never known before outside their own district, have become a part of the world's heritage as symbols of courage and fortitude and glorious endeavor.
All through the war after the earlier stages there had been a hope in the hearts of myriads that Peace would come some time, somehow---if even by a miracle---and---universally, that the peace would be victorious for their side.
The Central Empires claimed to have made a step in the direction as far back as the Summer of 1916.
The President's notes in the winter of 1916-17 had stimulated the hope in a way which even the cold reception accorded by the Allies and the slighting one accorded them by their adversaries had not wholly destroyed. The Pope had issued two Encyclicals calling on the Belligerents to cease from the unchristian and inhuman slaughter and come together in a peace of compromise and reconciliation. But apparently no steps had been taken by the Belligerents to bring the peace actually nearer.
The young Emperor Charles had written two letters to his brother-in-law, Prince Sixtus de Bourbon (the first dated March 31, 1917), containing the points of a proposal of a basis for a discussion of Peace terms, and this letter had been shown the President of the French Republic and M. Ribot, and had been communicated to the Heads of the British and Italian Governments.(126)
This proposal, which implied the securing of the assent of Germany, suggested the recession of Alsace-Lorraine or a measurable part thereof to France. At the Jean de Maurienne Conference of April 19, 1917, the matter was discussed and Baron Sonnino, who apparently had no confidence in such a means of securing peace, and regarded it rather as a "peace offensive," stated on behalf of Italy, demands which in the ensuing pourparlers were considered inadmissible by Austria-Hungary. Another attempt of a similar kind was made by Austria-Hungary in August, 1917. This proposal which contained concessions to Italy, was rejected by M. Ribot. About the same time (August) Germany took a step. Through a Belgian Diplomat, M. Briand was informed of Germany's desire to start secret conversations in Switzerland with a view to ascertaining some basis for Peace negotiations. Alsace-Lorraine; the evacuation of French territory and the evacuation and restoration of Belgium with possibly some further concessions were suggested.(127) M. Ribot, to whom the information was conveyed by M. Briand, declined to entertain the idea and, later, on the matter being brought up in the French Chamber, he was attacked by M. Briand and resigned.
These moves were stigmatized in Government circles and organs as "peace offensives," and undoubtedly they were so intended. A more serious basis, however, was now being created for such a step in the rapidly advancing shadow of disastrous defeat.
All during the year 1918, after President Wilson's enunciation of his Fourteen Points, it was recognized by those concerned with the direction of the war that a new step had been taken and a new phase of the war had developed.
On the 24th of January, 1918, the German Chancellor, Count von Hertling, spoke before a Committee of the Reichstag and about the same time the Austro-Hungarian Chancellor in Vienna spoke on the subject of Peace, each in his own way, but both following the same lines, of apparently accepting certain of the President's points in principle; but rejecting them all in application. Both speeches were manifestly for home consumption.
To these the President rejoined in an address delivered before the Congress on February 11, setting forth the first four principles which have been already cited.
Then came Germany's mighty drive forward in France beginning March 21, when, as transpired afterward, she put forth her most desperate and protracted efforts to crush the worn lines along the British and French front before the United States could fling her full weight into the scale and get her full power into action.
On April 6, in an address (at Baltimore) the President accepted the challenge of the Central Powers and gave America's response: "Force---Force to the utmost, Force without stint or limit---the righteous and triumphant force which shall make Right the Law of the world and cast every selfish dominion down in the dust."
On June 24, the German Foreign Minister, von Kühlmann, delivered an address to enhearten his people and their allies by an attack on Russia and England for having caused the war. He set forth Germany's aim, and placed the responsibility on the Allies of making Peace proposals.
To this the Allies made a prompt response, repudiating. the German suggestion, and President Wilson on July 4 delivered at Mount Vernon, where the ashes of George Washington, reposing in majestic simplicity, constitute the Shrine of American Liberty, an address in which he declared that there could be "no compromise," and laid down his four principles, which became afterward a fundamental part of the Peace Negotiations.
On August 31, the President in his Draft Proclamation, calling for the registration of all men between eighteen and forty-five, declared that America now "solemnly purposed a decisive victory." She had 2,000,000 men in France.
On September 15 was made public an attempt by Austria to make peace through the Good Offices of Sweden, to whose Government she handed a communication addressed to all the Belligerent States. The communication contained Austria's argument of the innocence of the pious and pacific Central Powers, and of the responsibility of the wicked Allies And it suggested an early Conference in a Neutral Country of Delegates of the Belligerent Powers to "broach a confidential non-binding conversation over the fundamental principles of a peace that could be concluded." At the same time with this was made public an attempt by Germany to make a separate peace with Belgium.
The President's reply to this was a prompt rejection of the Austrian proposal. "The Government of the United States," said the President, "has repeatedly and with entire candor stated the terms upon which the United States would consider Peace and can and will entertain no proposal for a conference upon a matter concerning which it has made its position and purpose so plain."
This was the beginning of the end. The Allied forces in France were now pressing the Germans back with inextinguishable ardor, and Austria was pinned on the Piave, powerless to stir to her Ally's support.
Finally, as all hope of procuring any additional assistance from beyond the Alps died, Diaz moved with such forces as he had already in Italy.
At first it was planned to make a strong offensive about the end of May; but this plan was abandoned for the reason that the enemy was able to increase his forces till the disproportion appeared to render such a plan too perilous at that time, even should the initial attack succeed. It was necessary, therefore, in view of Italy's inferiority in numbers and guns, to curtail her operations for a considerable time, and to remain on the defensive and simply prepare for a strong counter-attack when the moment should arrive; as, even should she now in an offensive, succeed in forcing the enemy back to his old lines, she would herself be left with her exhausted forces in an exposed new position, with the enemy still above her and superior in numbers and matériel. Italy had now nearly exhausted her reserves. She had in Albania about 100,000 men; in Macedonia 50,000; in France her Second Army Corps, 48,000, besides about 70,000 of the Italian Labor Corps.(128) It was believed, however, by the Italian Supreme Command that the success, which they confidently anticipated in their counter-attack, would place them in a position which would be a good step toward the offensive which they were carefully preparing against the coming of the supreme moment.
The Italian Supreme Command believed that, when in the beginning of July the Austrians were driven back across the Piave, they were so demoralized that had it had at its disposal the necessary reserves which it had asked for, so that it could have passed at once to the offensive, the issue of the war would probably have been decided at that time. The enemy had lost some 200,000 men, but the Italians also had lost terribly---their losses were 90,000---and their whole service of supply had been strained well-nigh to exhaustion, and a certain time was needed for reorganization and reequipment. There was, moreover, a certain danger that the Germans, finding their advance on Paris definitively checked, might by a sudden transfer of troops, combine with Austria and turn on Italy to clear her out of the way, with a view to freeing Austria and permitting her to unite with them on the French front. All of this Italy had to anticipate.(129) All of this the Commando Supremo did anticipate. As many men as possible were combed out of Departments, and from other fields of action, and all the matériel available was accumulated where it would be on hand when the supreme moment should come.
A plan was matured by Diaz, which was eventually carried out with great success and which, when the complete history of the military operations of the several armies shall be written, will reflect great credit on the Italian Commando Supremo. This was a movement to begin with a subsidiary attack to be developed in the Pasubio region, with a view to taking the Col Santo and pushing toward the Folgaria plateau, which defended the Val di Sugana line of communication, of vast importance to the enemy. This was but the first step toward an attack on the Asiago Plateau, which was to follow. At the same time, however, a larger and more ambitious plan was being worked out with great secrecy, with a view to taking advantage, should the possibility offer, of this success and passing at once to a general offensive, and at the critical moment, launching everything in a supreme thrust against the foe's most vital point and, staking all on the cast, smash his front, drive home, and end the war then and there.
The plan was carefully matured in minute detail. The troops were trained with the aim of fitting them for the purpose in hand: trained in long marches; trained in crossing rivers; trained in attack-manoeuvres. The preparation for the attack on the Asiago proceeded, and engaged the enemy's attention, while more secretly the yet vaster preparations were made for the drive at the enemy elsewhere.
The local engagements---which went on continually--- proved that whatever effect might have been produced by the propaganda in the interior of the Austrian Empire, it had not yet especially affected the army. The Jugo-Slavs and the Hungarians were to the end the stiffest fighters in the Austrian ranks. The Italians found the positions which they attacked defended with desperation.
The Allied successes in France, however, began to have a repercussion elsewhere. Toward the middle of September the campaign against Bulgaria began to tell, and under the pressure of the Allied arms and the propaganda that was now making its way, Bulgaria began to give back. At the welcome sign, Italy gave orders to be ready for the final cast on which she would stake all, and try to drive an offensive home.
The Austrian defensive system was, indeed, formidable. It was constructed in successive lines in the Grappa region, where it had the advantage of dominating positions, and in battle-belts. Two Austrian armies, the Sixth and the Fifth, held the line from the Grappa to the Sea. The Sixth held the sector from the Grappa joining, to the southward, the Fifth, which held the sector to the Sea. The line of communications ran through the left flank of the Sixth by way of Vittorio-Conignano-Sacile---back of the joint between it and the Fifth Army. Against this joint Diaz prepared to strike, as the weakest point in the line and that .which, should the line be broken, offered the chance to divide the Trentino armies from those in the Venetian Plain , cutting the main artery of supplies for the Sixth Austrian Army and with the possibility of carrying out an encircling movement in the rear of the Grappa toward Feltre, the Belluno valley junction, up the Cadore and the Agordino; and, with the Grappa taken, on through the Val Cismon and the Val di Sugana. It was a bold conception which might, if successful, entrap and capture the major part of the Austrian armies in the Trentino. It was conceived with daring and accomplished with resolution and skill. Troops were assembled---generally by night---from other regions; two new armies were formed and disposed as a mobile force in a way to aid in the success of the far-reaching plan. Some sixteen hundred guns, large and small, were brought up from elsewhere and added to those already in hand for the enterprise, and a vast amount of ammunition and other matériel was provided.
The Italian armies, as reorganized, now numbered twelve, including two new ones, of which five-twenty-one divisions, were on the Grappa or eastern front.
The Autumn rains had now begun, and the Piave was liable to be in flood---a contingency which actually happened at the crucial moment of the offensive---and wash bridges away. It was necessary, therefore, to have plenty of material for renewing bridges as often as they might go, and all of the work of preparation had to be done in torrential Autumn rains. But it was done. The troops and guns and material were assembled and disposed according to programme, and the offensive was planned for the 16th of October, when suddenly the Piave rose in flood, and the movement had to be deferred. Four hundred more guns were combed out from the western Italian front, and assigned to the Fourth Army's sector between the Brenta and the Piave. The command of the Tenth Army was conferred on the British Commander, General, the Earl of Cavan, to whom was assigned the honor of making the first crossing at Papadopoli, which was gallantly performed. The Commander of the Twelfth Army, in which were the French Divisions and the Czecho-Slovak Division, was General Graziani.
Before October was out Ludendorff was out. His boasted "organized victory" had turned into defeat and he resigned October 27. German Militarism, with its apostles and methods, had brought on the world the vastest and most appalling catastrophe it had ever known in its history, and Germany was facing with growing terror the unmeasured abyss which she had herself prepared. Bulgaria had crumbled and fallen; Turkey had crumbled and dissolved; and Austria, with shaken foundations, was toppling to her fall under Italy's furious onslaught.
The German Chancellor, Count von Hertling, had already gone like his predecessors, a sure sign of failure. In his place had come Prince Max of Baden---held forth, for those who would believe it, to be a Liberal Prince, a convinced democrat, believing in Democracy, a sort of Egalité, ready to espouse the side of the People and possibly, as a sop to the Cerberus of the yawning Perdition already in view, even sacrifice his own Blood.
There was one chance left, one avenue of escape. The President of the United States had, back in January, enunciated certain principles. for which he stated the Americans would fight to the bitter end. The Allies had acquiesced in these principles, with certain reservations. The aid of America was essential for the success of the Allies. The German Government would now try to enlist America's Good Offices in ascertaining whether the Allies would insist on all they had claimed in the winter of 1917, when they repelled the German Peace-offensive.
Accordingly, on October 5, Germany addressed, through the Swiss Government, a note to the President of the United States, suggesting in somewhat sibylline terms the wish to have Peace. Negotiations started on the basis of a discussion of the President's Fourteen Points. The President's reply, sent October 8 through the same Agency, was to sweep away all obscurity or question as to the Germans' meaning and to ask categorically whether the Imperial German Government accepted the terms laid down by the President in his Address to Congress of the United States on the 8th of the preceding January (The Fourteen Points) and in subsequent addresses, and whether the Imperial Government's object in entering into discussions would be only to agree upon the practical details of their application.
The President further stated that he would not feel at liberty to propose a cessation of arms to the Allied Governments, so long as the Armies of the Central Powers were on their soil. And he suggested that the Good faith of any discussion manifestly depended on the consent of the Central Powers to evacuate immediately all invaded territory.
And, finally, the President asked for whom the Imperial Chancellor was speaking---whether merely for the old Constituted Authorities who had hitherto conducted the war,. or for the German people?
Germany having thus been brought up standing to find all possibility of evasion of complete defeat swept away, replied on the 12th, accepting unqualifiedly the terms so plainly stated by the President and declared that acceptance came from the newly constituted German Government and by a majority of the Reichstag.
The President's explicit statement of his terms having thus been explicitly accepted, and the Kaiser and his son and heir apparent, the Crown Prince, having been driven from the throne and compelled to seek refuge in Holland, the President now replied calling the attention of the Government of Germany very solemnly "to the language and plain intent of one of the terms of Peace," which the German Government had now accepted. It was contained in the Address of the President at Mount Vernon on the 4th of July, 1918, and was as follows:
"The destruction of every Arbitrary Power anywhere, that can separately, secretly, and of its single choice disturb the Peace of the World; or, if it cannot be presently destroyed, at least its reduction to virtual impotence."
The President stated that the power which hitherto controlled the German Nation was of the sort thus described, and that it was within the choice of the German Nation to alter it. He added, explicitly, that the words thus quoted constituted a condition precedent to Peace, if Peace were to come by the action of the German people themselves.
His note made it plain that the process of evacuation and the conditions of an armistice were to be left to the judgment and advice of the military advisers of the Allied and Associated Governments, but that no arrangement could be accepted which did not provide absolutely satisfactory safeguards and guaranties of the maintenance of the present military supremacy of the armies of the United States and of the Allies in the field.
He further declared that an armistice would not be considered so long as the armed forces of Germany should continue the illegal and inhuman practices which they persisted in, and he called attention to the "acts of inhumanity, spoliation, and desolation" which were being continued by Germany at the very moment, when the German Government was approaching the Government of the United States with proposals of peace, on the 27th of September.
The "acts of inhumanity, spoliation, and desolation" to which the President referred were first, the sinking by submarines of passenger-ships at sea and not the ships alone, but the very boats in which these passengers and crews sought to make their way to safety. Secondly, the course of wanton destruction pursued by the German Armies in their enforced withdrawal from Flanders and France, cities and towns being, if not destroyed, stripped not only of all they contained, but often of their very inhabitants.
ITALY'S VICTORY AND THE COLLAPSE
IN this state of the case, with Bulgaria and Turkey completely beaten and out of the fight; with Germany and Austria asking terms and with Germany's strongest defenses smashing and her armies being steadily forced back toward the Rhine, and with unmistakable signs that the internal conditions in both Empires were sinking into chaos, it became manifest that Italy must move to a general offensive against Austria-Hungary if she would maintain her position with the other allies and her prestige as an equal among the Victor Nations. Moreover, it was possible that otherwise she might lose much of those territorial and political moral results which were included in her aspirations and for which she had made such enormous sacrifices.
There was, besides, the danger that Germany finding her progress barred in France, might attempt to return to the defensive there and send troops to the Italian front to aid Austria in overwhelming the Italian armies, which numerically were much inferior to the Allies' forces in France.(130) This plan had, in fact, been strongly advocated in Germany at the time of Caporetto.
Strong pressure had been brought to bear on Diaz to join, through an offensive, in the great fight going on beyond the Alps; but against all pressure and all criticism directed against his inaction he bided his time till the situation should change sufficiently to give some promise that the overwhelming chances against success should be modified.
Diaz was, however, keeping himself informed as fully as possible of the military and political conditions within and back of the Enemy's lines where especially signs of disintegration were increasing.
The history of Austria showed that the existence of internal dissension, however extensive and however manifested, did not necessarily imply that the army was affected. The Austrian army had historically ever been the obedient instrument of the Chief of the Imperial Command. It was the well-disciplined weapon with which the Head of the House of Hapsburg had ever crushed Revolution and extricated himself from perils which threatened to sweep even its archaic system into the current of modern thought and progress.
The situation now was what it had often been before in even comparatively recent Austrian History---as for example, after the Revolution of 1848, when the Army intervened and saved the Monarchy. It was not at all what was charged and believed (outside of Italy) in possibly many quarters.(131) The unchanged mettle of the Austrian armies was abundantly shown in the fierce fighting of the early days of the Italian offensive: in the desperate resistance offered on the Asiago, the Grappa, the Ascoltone, where the fighting was as obstinate as at any time during the war. Especially were the Hungarians, Croats, and Slovenes the most determined fighters during all the fighting of the last days along the Italian front.(132)
Sentiment is the basis of morale, and it is characteristic of the Italians that when the flood in the Piave prevented the carrying out of the attack as planned on the 16th, the time chosen was the 24th, the anniversary of Caporetto. Anniversaries mean much to Italians, and this was a date that would appeal to the Italian soldiery, who would be inspired with a burning desire to wipe out the memory of that unhappy day. All preparations for the offensive had been carefully made for the former date. The men had all been brought up by night to the front.
At five in the morning, then, of October 24, Diaz launched his attack, when the Fourth Army, commanded by Lieutenant-General Giardino, moved forward through the mountain fog and drizzle along the whole region between the Brenta and the Piave, and Italy was instantly in the desperate final struggle with her age-long enemy. The left wing of the Twelfth Army, under General Graziani of the French army, supported the Fourth from Monte Tomba and Monfenera and at the same time the attack began where elements of the First Army in the Val d'Astico and the Sixth Army on the Asiago plateau dashed forward to assault the Redentore and the Cima Tre Pezzi. These attacks, however, as furious as they were and as desperate as was the fighting, were according to the plan only subsidiary to the great attack in the Grappa area, and to that on the Piave where the English of the Tenth Army under the Earl of Cavan were seizing the islands in the Piave in the Papadopoli area. It was intended to force the crossings of the middle Piave that night; but the river suddenly rose in flood from the heavy rains in the mountains, and it was not until the night of the 26th that it subsided sufficiently for a half-dozen bridges to be thrown across, and forces of the English together with the Twelfth and Tenth Armies crossed over to rush the enemy's lines, and establish three bridge-heads on the eastern side of the river.
With the bridges washed away and the crossing places under perpetual and accurate shelling, and the little British detachment of the Tenth Army on the long, narrow island of Grave di Papadopoli, the promise of forcing the crossing of the river looked for a day or two very slim indeed, but it was a situation in which British pluck and the British staying quality counted for a great deal, and never were they of more value or more richly compensated. They set the stroke for the entire engagement from that moment.
All this time the fighting in the Asiago and Grappa regions went on desperately. The bridges were again destroyed behind the advanced force by the Enemy's fire, or were washed away by another sudden flood, and there was a period of grave peril as the Enemy made a series of desperate counter-attacks. Italy held her breath. There was a gap between the Eighth and Tenth Armies, the former under Lieutenant-General Caviglia, but they maintained their position. The bridges were restored and though again washed away, were again renewed, and by the 28th the enemy's front was broken in two, and the Italians were pouring across the river and advancing with irresistible impetus. By the evening of the 29th their advance Cavalry and Bersaglieri Cyclists were in Vittorio. The Fourth Army was holding the Enemy with all his reserves pinned in the Feltre area, so that no aid could be sent to the plain, and Italy's victory was in sight. The Third Army, which had been holding the Enemy on the lower Piave, awaiting its hour, was now ordered forward, and forcing the crossing, passed over to join in the general advance. Notwithstanding their desperate resistance, the defeat of the Austro-Hungarians was now certain. And by the 31st the Italians, with their left flank well protected, were advancing toward the junction of the valleys at Belluno, and the Austrians were in full retreat to reach their defensive positions in the rear, fighting only rear-guard actions, with the Italians pressing them hotly and gathering up prisoners and guns everywhere
The Cavalry was sent forward, and while a portion crossed the Grappa at night by a perilous mule-trail, and came down to the Belluno junction, other portions pushed the enemy on the plain so hotly that the bridges of the Livenza and later, of the Tagliamento, could not be destroyed.
With the seizure of the Passes and the Feltre Basin, the Austrian defenses on the Asiago, began to give way, and here, too, the Italians swept forward. They pressed on to cut the main road and the Val di Sugana railway, which presented the chief avenue of escape for the retreating Austrians, pushed hotly by the Fourth, Twelfth, and Eighth Italian Armies, storming the still strongly defended positions. By the evening of the 31st, the collapse of the Austrian army was in sight. The Grappa front was perceptibly giving way with the advance of the Eighth Army on Belluno; the roads were opening to the Cadore, the Agordino, and the Val Cismon, and the entire Austrian front westward to the Stelvio was imperilled. On the 1st of November orders were given for a drive forward along the whole Italian front, with a view to completing the rout of the entire Austrian army, which was now endeavoring to escape destruction.
By Diaz's comprehensive plan, the First Army was to advance on Trent; the Sixth toward the Egna-Trent front; the Fourth to advance toward the Bolzano-Egna front; the Eighth to advance well beyond the Valley's junction at Belluno by the Cadore road (upper Piave) and the Agordino, road between Bruneck and Bolzano, throwing out a detachment to Toblach; and the Seventh Army to advance toward the Mezzo-Lombardo-Bolzano front. The movement was intended to strike for the sources of the enemy's communications, and place the Austrians completely in the Italians' power.
The Tenth and Third Armies were pushed on to the Tagliamento, and the Cavalry in that region was sent ahead to forestall the enemy at the Isonzo bridges. It was all done, and done well, though there was still heavy fighting ahead. Belluno was reached on the 1st and the communications with the upper Piave were cut, and the Enemy's forces retreating from Feltre were forced into the Cordevole Valley. The Fourth Army closed the exit of the "Marcesina highroad" from the Asiago Plateau, while the Asiago Plateau, after tremendous efforts both by direct attack and flanking, fell into the Italians' hands, and an enormous gap was opened in the enemy's front. The advantage was pressed with equal ardor and success, and the Asiago, with tens of thousands of prisoners and substantially all its artillery, fell into Italy's hands.
The disaster to the Austrian arms was now evident to both sides, and every effort was strained to the utmost on the one side to annihilate the Austrian army, on the other side to escape this fate.
The continued advance on the 2d and 3d of November was decisive in completing the disruption of the Austrian armies which, now in complete rout, were endeavoring to escape irretrievable disaster. Pushing forward against all opposition, a sharp and decisive blow was delivered by the Fifth Army toward Trent, while the Sixth Army advanced across the Asiago Plateau; and while the flanks were protected by lateral columns which engaged the Enemy on the slopes of the Altissimo and on the Pasubio, the main body advanced sweeping the Enemy before it. The forces of the enemy on the Tonezza-Folgaria Plateau were separated from those on the Asiago-Lavar Plateau. The powerful defenses still strongly held were carried by assault; Roveredo was seized, and squadrons of cavalry were despatched toward Trent itself, which was entered at fifteen minutes past three on the afternoon of the 3d, and the Italian flag was hoisted on the Castello del Buon Consiglio.
The bare narrative of the Italian offensive, however successfully it may be pictured, gives little idea of the unbroken, murderous battle which raged for days along the entire Northern and Northeastern border of Italy. Through mountain ranges, up and down precipitous heights and through tortuous valleys, across swollen torrents, over exposed levels all swept by sheets of steel from unnumbered guns of every death-bearing caliber, pushed the Italians. Directed with skill and informed with one irresistible and primal impulse---nothing could stop them. They were mowed down or swept away only to have their places taken by others, and the advance pushed with ever-increasing ardor and resolution till in the end Victory ---complete and satisfying--- crowned their heroic efforts, and the Austrian armies, shattered and destroyed, were taken as prisoners or swept in fragments from all that bore the name of Italy.
All through the 2d and 3d of November while the advance on Trent was being pushed forward along every possible line, and every effort was being made in the Trentino region to encircle the Austrians, now retreating along every corridor of escape, similar efforts were being made along the rest of the line, and similar success was being achieved. To the West the Sixth, Seventh, and First Armies were pressing forward with ardor, forcing position after position, seizing the passes and closing avenues of escape, whether by the Val d'Adige toward Meran and Bolzano, or by other outlets. More easterly in the Southern Alpine region, the Eighth, Twelfth, and Fourth Armies, meeting in places stiff resistance, were pushing forward to close the outlets of escape toward Trent or toward Tolmino.
Where the lines had descended and ran across the open plain the Tenth and the Third Armies, which on the 1st of November had forced the crossings of the Livenza against stout resistance, were pushing the pursuit with fervid zeal, sweeping over all opposition, and straining every energy to head off and capture the Main Austrian Army, which, now completely demoralized, with communications cut and its lines of retreat either cut or threatened by the Italians, was endeavoring desperately to escape to the Eastward.
Having described the successive stages of the work of the Italians along the entire front to the morning of the 4th of November, together with the seizure of the valleys and of the commanding mountain positions, the Report of the Commando Supremo states that., "By this time the whole Austro-Hungarian Army was in complete dissolution along the whole front from the Stelvio to the sea."
Not only in the Trentino, but to the Eastward and in the plain the rapid-moving advance troops of the Italians were rushing ahead of them cutting them off. The Tagliamento was reached and passed by the Italians on the 3d. Prisoners were now being captured by the scores of thousands everywhere; guns were taken by the hundreds---by the thousands. Equipment beyond measure or computation was falling into the Italians' hands.
It had been originally planned in the arrangements made for the general offensive to assemble troops at Venice and effect a landing on the Istrian coast to attack Trieste from the East. When, however, it was recognized that the Austrian army was collapsing, this plan was altered and the troops at Venice were sent by sea directly to effect a landing, if possible, at Trieste and capture the city. This was accomplished, and the Italian troops sent by sea occupied Trieste on the afternoon of the 3d about the same hour that the advanced Cavalry force occupied Trent.
Thus, was realized at almost the same moment Italy's cherished aspiration for which so many had died that her two irredentist cities should be once more within her maternal protection.
While the crucial struggle to decide the fate of Italy and Austria and the future dominion over the regions that had. so long been the prize of contention was going on by land, the struggle had not been less eager in that sea whose dominion was as much a part of the prize striven for as Trent and Trieste, and fundamentally even more the cause of the long contest, than those cities.
The Austrian fleet had for a great while been held sequestered behind the barriers in the harbor of Pola, the Austrians preferring the certainty of the power of "a fleet in, being" to the uncertainty of one dependent on the issue of a battle on the high seas. The Italians, on the other hand, were ever scouting in the upper Adriatic to prevent raids on their coast, and, if possible, catch the Austrians at sea when it was hoped the latter would be decisively defeated, and the memory of Lissa would be wiped out forever.
Among the daring exploits of the Italian navy---which included fourteen raids in the well-defended Austrian Harbors---was the raid made by three destroyers on Pola, the night of November 2, 1916, when one of them entered the harbor and attempted to torpedo the Austrian ships in the port. Another was the raid made on the harbor of Trieste, December 9, 1917, when two torpedo-boats penetrated the port and torpedoed the Arien and the Budapesth, and then escaped. Another daring raid was that on Pola by Lieutenant-Commander Pellegrini on the morning of May 14, 1918.
One of the last appearances of the Austrian Ships, if not the last appearance, on the open sea was when on June 9, 1918, two Italian torpedo-boats, under command of Commander Rizzo, with Sub-Lieutenant Aonzo, Second in command, engaged in a scouting expedition, discovered two Austrian Dreadnoughts steaming South under the protection of eight or ten torpedo-destroyers. Without hesitation the Commander gave his companion the signal for attack, and both boats dashed through the protective screen, one at each dreadnought, and sank the first, struck the second, and then, turning under fire from the guard-squadron, escaped without serious injury.(133)
Another inspiring deed of the Italian navy, of equal gallantry occurred at the very moment when the great battle of Vittorio-Veneto was drawing to its climax, and added to its dramatic close. Two young marine officers had conceived a plan for entering the harbor of Pola with a floating torpedo-device which they had invented, which was propelled by a small engine attached to it, and carried a powerful bomb with a time-fuse, and which could be attached by a valve to the side of a war-ship, when the bomb could be adjusted and set off.
The young men descended with their torpedo from a boat near Pola early on the night of the 3d of November, and passing, though with great difficulty, through obstructions arranged to protect the war-vessels, successfully attached their bomb to the side of the Austrian flag-ship, the Viribus Unitis, which was blown up and sank at her anchorage.
The Austrian armies being now almost annihilated as an efficient force, and their complete destruction being hardly longer a question of doubt, Austria on the 3d of November sent a flag of truce to the Italian Commander to ask an Armistice and terms of peace. The first flag was sent by the hands of an officer of low rank, and was rejected, and the reason was assigned. Not very many hours afterward a second flag was sent by an officer of suitable rank, and the terms having been arranged by telegraph with the Allied Authorities in Paris, were communicated to the Austrian Commander, and were accepted. And the Armistice was granted to take effect at three o'clock on the afternoon of the 4th of November.
The principal terms were: Immediate cessation of hostilities with free use of Austrian Territory and Transports for operations against Germany; The demobilization of Austrian Armies and the withdrawal of all troops operating with the German Armies; Evacuation of all territory invaded or in dispute between Austria-Hungary and Italy and Jugo-Slavia; The immediate repatriation of all allied prisoners of war; The surrender of the Austrian fleet---three battleships; three cruisers; nine destroyers; six monitors; and fifteen submarines; Freedom of Navigation to the allies up the Adriatic and the Danube.
Austria, already crumbling to her fall before the propaganda of Liberty, collapsed and sank into dissolution as before an enchanter's wand. It was the end of the Austrian Empire and the beginning of the end of the German Empire, at least, for this occasion.
Thus was accomplished the dream of Patriots: the redemption of the Unredeemed regions of Italy; the liberation of the, remnants of the subjugated children of Italy; the shattering of the Austrian Empire; the acquisition of boundaries adapted by nature to render Italy's invasion from the North and East most difficult, if not beyond possibility, and thus to place her in a position not only of security, but of advantage, should her destiny continue to point her in the future as it had done in the past toward expansion beyond the Adriatic and in the Mediterranean.
On the morning of the 4th, Udine was recaptured by a squadron of cavalry that galloped straight through the Austrians to plant the Italian flag on the Municipal building. Pushing forward for Cividale, Cormons, Manzano, Corrioli, Cervignano, Grado, and many other towns were successively occupied by three o'clock of the 4th, the hour set for the Armistice to take effect.(134)
Thus fell the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. Its Armies, the potent instrument of its imperial power destroyed, its Navies captured, its foundations upturned and disrupted, its subject Peoples, released from the chains of compulsive or repressive force, burst on the instant into open Revolution and assertion of Independence from the Adriatic to the far side of Poland and Bohemia.
In Vienna the profound and rapidly spreading commotion took shape in a serious uprising. The Imperial standard was pulled down and the Emperor left the Capital and took refuge in his castle of Gesdelles in Hungary. He returned and issued an address to his People, but was compelled to flee again after a few days. In his address Charles declared that he had had no part in bringing on the war and had done all in his power to bring it to an end. The Italian reply to this was that he had hanged Cesare Battisto. But the commotion now extended to Hungary also and the former Hungarian Premier was assassinated in Budapest.
As soon as the knowledge of the crushing defeat of the Austrians and the disintegration of the Austrian armies got abroad, elements of the population of those subject regions immediately affected by it took steps to express in an effective way their feelings and hopes. The entire country appeared to slip into Revolution.
A movement in favor of a Greater Serbia had been going on for some time, fostered by the encouragement of the Allies, particularly of France. Now in the commotion caused by the defeat and the dissolution of the Austrian armies, elements in Bosnia and Herzegovina declared for coalition with Greater Serbia while Italian elements in the irredentist Italian Cities of those regions declared boldly for union with Italy and sent deputations to Venice to urge Italy's acceptance and beg her protection. This Italy was but too glad to extend, and assurances were given the envoys of her complete sympathy with their desires.(135)
The disruption of Austria left Germany unsupported in her struggle. Turkey, Bulgaria, Austria had all fallen away from her. She was open now to possible attack and to invasion from the South and with her armies hotly pressed along her front, her vaunted "two-front programme" as a thing of naught.
The fall of Austria had left her Southern frontier exposed, and had shaken her profoundly. So long as she could cherish the hope of conquering her adversaries and, imposing her hegemony on the rest of the world, extort from them compensation for all her losses, she could count on the solidarity of all her people. A few individuals stood for their old principles of Peace and Liberty; but under the drive of cupidity and lust for power, Socialism and Syndicalism and Internationalism had all flung their forces into the general scale with Militarism and Absolutism.
But with the victory of the forces of Liberty and the crumbling of the Military power that had menaced the world and deluded even the German People with the hope of universal Germanic hegemony, the elements of Socialism had discovered that delusion and rose in a commotion that augured ill for those who had led in the universal deception. A certain manifestation of the growing sedition had appeared months before when there had been a mutiny at Kiel on several ships of the fleet; but this had been sternly suppressed and the death-sentence had been executed on a certain proportion of the mutineers.
Now Bolshevism, which had been blithely encouraged in Russia by Germany as a weapon of destruction against her Enemies, had imperceptibly crept back over the Eastern German border. The serpent that had been warmed to perform its deadly work on Russia was insinuating itself into the bosom of Germany and was turning its invigorated fangs on its one-time ardent patron. Its poison had begun to course in the cardiac arteries of the Empire: in the Army itself. The wind had shifted; the poisonous gases so joyously sent forth to strike down the adversary were sweeping back among the German hosts. From the Westward it bore instead of the shouts of victory and the cries of victims, the groans of defeat and the stern murmurs of resentment. It was the startling signs of this that had caused the first half-masked effort of the Allied German and Austrian Governments to seek in early October through the medium of the United States Government some gauge of the morale of the Allied Government and peoples. This "peace offensive" had been countered by the wisdom and address of the President, and later had come a further step though one not yet sufficiently direct to lead to more than a firm and explicit definition on the President's part of the precise conditions under which alone he would move in the direction they desired. As to the Military conditions he referred the inquirers to Marshal Foch, the Commander-in-Chief of all the Allied and Associated Armies in France. And all the time those Armies of Liberty on the Western front were defeating and forcing back nearer and nearer to their own borders the once arrogant Armies of German and Austrian Absolutism.
In the moment when Austria was crashing to the ground under the victorious blows of Diaz's Armies the feeling in Germany following the lead of President Wilson's inspired declaration of eternal hostility to Autocracy and devotion to Liberty, and facing the savage fact of the defeat of the German System, grew so menacing toward the old order that the "Most High"---the Kaiser---had found it prudent to abandon his capital and place himself in immediate touch with if not under the protection of his Armies. He left Berlin hastily and arrived at the German General Headquarters at Spa. But he was not to stay there long. His battle, as he proudly termed it in its beginning months before, had been lost---his world which he had done so much to create and to destroy was crashing about him.
He was informed that in the depression of defeat the Army had become infected with the poison of the Revolutionary doctrine. The Navy was even closer to revolt.
On the day that the Italians entered Trent and Trieste, the day that Austria sent her flag of trace to General Diaz to ask an armistice (November 3), the German fleet at Kiel was ordered to sea. Instead of obeying, the seamen broke out into open mutiny. The revolt assumed tremendous proportions and spread to other ports, and Prince Henry, the High Commander, was compelled to flee for his life. Elements among the revolted sailors seized trains and rushed to Berlin where the smouldering Revolution had burst into flame, important elements of the troops uniting in the disorder. The flames rapidly swept on into a conflagration and the Prussian Capital fell into the hands of the Bolshevists or Spartacists, as they were termed. The Imperial standard was torn down and the Red flag was hoisted over the Imperial Palace and the Brandenburg Gate.
The Socialists threatened to resign from the Ministry and the extremists threatened a general strike unless the Kaiser should abdicate.
Such a step as was threatened would have starved Berlin and have plunged Germany into untold misery: the misery of Russian Bolshevism.
The Revolution spread quickly. Bavaria having demanded the abdication of King Ludwig and declared itself a Republic, King Ludwig had abdicated. The great cities of Germany swept into Revolution. Hamburg, Frankfort, Leipzig, Cologne, Essen all turned against the ancient regime and joined the Revolutionists.
In the evening of the 6th the air, still pulsating with the throb of guns of the pursuing Allied Armies pressing eagerly forward toward the Rhine on the heels of the retreating Germans, bore to the Commander of the former a wireless message of request that the route should be indicated by which a flag of truce seeking terms might reach him. A reply was sent and a German officer next evening brought the formal request. And next evening the German plenipotentiaries, headed by Herr Erzberger, the same who had come to Rome in the winter of 1914-15 to help out Prince von Bülow, passed over the shell-torn roads and were conducted blindfolded within the French lines to request the terms of the Armistice preliminary to the peace to be dictated by the Allies. Having been taken to Guise, they were put on a special train and conducted to the point selected by the French Commander.
The following morning (November 8) they were admitted to General Foch's presence in the forest of Compiègne where, with brief preliminaries, he read them the stern terms on which an armistice would be granted to them, and gave them seventy-two hours in which to signify their acceptance or rejection. Meanwhile, their request for a suspension of hostilities was denied, and the engagement of retreat and pursuit proceeded all along the front.
There could now be but one end for Germany. The Allied Armies were everywhere victorious from the line in Belgium where her heroic young King was pressing forward winning back his Throne and Country, to the hard-fought line where, on the extreme right the American Army was driving for Metz. But the Kaiser had choice of two ends. He might have placed himself at the head of his still fighting troops and so have saved his honor---whether he died on the field of battle or, like a King of the House of Savoy, abdicated after vainly seeking death where the battle was thickest. He did neither. He abdicated on the 9th of November, and abandoning his armies fled to Holland. His example was followed by the Crown Prince, who after renouncing his right to the Throne sought refuge on one of the Islands of Holland. Thus passed from the Imperial stage one whose boasted "glittering sword" had made more women childless than any monarch from the time of Og the King of Bashan.
A Courier was sent back to Germany to lay before the remnant of the Government there the terms that alone would satisfy the victors of Germany's good faith. As stern as they were, however, there could be but one reply, and on the evening of the 10th the Courier returned with the reply. Germany agreed because she must. The following day (November 11), the Armistice was signed at five o'clock in the morning---and at 10 A.M. the firing ceased, and the Great War was ended.
ITALY'S DIFFICULTIES AFTER THE VICTORY
WITH the capture of the Irredentist regions and the destruction of the Austrian armies new duties and burdens devolved on Italy. She found herself facing problems which had come so suddenly and so unexpectedly that no time had been given her to prepare for meeting them efficiently.
Who could have believed that the Austrian Goliath would have collapsed and fallen headlong in a moment before the Italian David?
Not only had the overrun Venetian provinces been retaken; not only had hundreds of thousands of prisoners come into the Italians' hands, but Trent and Trieste, Istria and the Dalmatian port-towns, with war-swept territory amounting to thousands of square miles had been captured; and their population, mounting up into the millions, had come under Italy's dominion and her protection. All had to be taken care of.
All Government had vanished in these regions save the military rule of the occupying Italian forces. All food-supplies had been exhausted, or were on the point of being so; and all the customary means of renewing such supplies had ceased to function. The moment was critical in the extreme. The least delay in meeting the exigency would mean untold misery, and might frustrate all that Italy had accomplished in those regions. Happily, there was no hesitation. As to the Government of the newly occupied regions, provision had already been made in advance. They were promptly divided into new Provinces, and Provincial Governments were organized on the model of those in the other Provinces of Italy; but naturally with due regard to the extraordinary conditions existing there at the moment.
The question of Food was immediate and imperative, and every available means was employed to meet the emergency, a work in which the American Red Cross was privileged to co-operate with the other organizations engaged therein.
The supplying of the wants of the vast number of prisoners---both captured Austrians and released Italians returning home, presented one of the most serious of all the difficulties encountered. But a few days before, the whole region had been a battle-field, and every energy had been applied to destruction. No provision could be made in advance for so overwhelming an exigency, and undoubtedly there were for a few days vast confusion and great, suffering. But happily, by herculean efforts, this was speedily relieved, and order was brought out of the chaos.
If this was true of the situation in the regions occupied by the victorious Italians, it was much more so of those regions beyond the line of Italian occupation, where to the want of provisions incident to a country long blockaded and now fallen into ruin, Revolution in some form was sweeping over the land from one end to the other. The great Empire had crashed to the ground; the two Kingdoms had fallen apart; the Emperor and King had abdicated; the headless governments were threatened with anarchy, and the former subject Dominions were setting up for themselves separate governments.
Count Tisza--- "the Iron-Count," who as Hungarian premier had participated in the Cabinet meeting that decided for the ultimatum to Serbia in July, 1914, and signed the death-warrant of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, was assassinated. Other assassinations followed, and with starvation facing the long-deceived population, Chaos ruled with grisly Anarchy as heir apparent. It was necessary that the People should be fed---should be furnished, at least, the temporary means to support life. And to this end the Allies, or some among them, applied their efforts.
Unhappily, Italy found herself in this crisis completely absorbed in the problems of meeting the extraordinary conditions within her own now extended borders. And also unhappily, these conditions were aggravated greatly by the unexpected action of those of her recent enemies who occupied the regions lying nearest to her borders.
Even before the Armistice was applied for, in those last days of Austria's expiring effort, when Bulgaria had fallen and Serbia apparently was coming to the fore among Balkan States, the weariness and unrest in the Serb provinces of Austria-Hungary had taken shape in a movement to declare for Independence of Austria-Hungary, and for some form of Confederation or Union with Serbia. It was a case in which there was much to gain and little to lose. On October 29 the Croatian Diet proclaimed the Deposition of the Emperor Charles, and declared for a confederation with Serbia and Montenegro. They also announced their aspiration for a Union of all the Jugo-Slavs within the limits extending from the Isonzo to the Vardar.
Now as soon as Austria fell, in the very hour in which the Italian Commander was giving the conditions on which the Italian armies and navy would stay their pressure and hold their fire, a coup was attempted by which what Italy had won would be transferred from her conquered enemy to the possession of a new claimant, hitherto a constituent element of the former, but now asserting a new independence. By this coup the Austrian ships were to be snatched from the hands of the Allies---from Italy---and, retained in the possession of that element, hitherto a faction of Austria's forces, but now under a new flag and name, claiming to be a Neutral and, next day, even an Allied power. It was not a change of coats, for the same coats of those who but yesterday were among Austria's most mighty and vindictive fighters served to-day, with only the insignia removed, as uniforms for the newly converted Jugo-Slav Allies, who, between suns, renouncing their lifelong Austrian allegiance, emerged as the newly converted comrades of victorious Italy and her allies, whom but the day before they had been bent on destroying with the same ships that they now claimed title to by virtue of their later than eleventh-hour repentance.
Small wonder that Italy with the ruins of Venice and the Veneto before her eyes and the cries of her women fighting for their honor still echoing in her ears, writhed with rage over the audacious attempt to wrest from her the fruits of her so costly victory, and over the astounding fact that apparently it was being sustained by some influence proceeding from outside of Jugo-Slavia.
The firm protests of Italy finally led to the delivery of the ships to the Allies by those who had seized or retained them; but a perceptible interval intervened before this disposition was effected and the thorn embedded in the Italian heart by this surprising development long rankled.
The idea became generally diffused throughout Italy that the Jugo-Slav claims to the Austrian ships had been fostered, if not instigated, by the French in pursuance of a deliberate plan to defeat Italian aspirations and to advance their own interests, and that England had acquiesced in it for her own purposes. The fact that the French Admiral received a Jugo-Slav deputation and entertained them privately and that wherever the French flag appeared on the Eastern Shore of the Adriatic there was resistance to Italian authority was taken as proof that France was behind the Jugo-Slav resistance to such authority. Accordingly, there was soon apparent a feeling of bitterness between Italians and French, which resulted in rendering a situation, at best delicate and difficult, yet more difficult and at a later period actually perilous.
Somewhat later it was published in the Italian press that English interests had purchased from the Jugo-Slavs the shipping properties and rights at Fiume whose future disposition had become the crucial question of the Adriatic settlement.
The announcement caused such an outburst of feeling in Italy that the British Company whose name was connected with the transaction was led to deny the report. But owing possibly to the somewhat guarded nature of the denial the Italian public was apparently not convinced.
The wreck and break-up of Austria left Italy, if not in the same position as before and with precisely the same problems, yet, at least, with as many and as difficult problems to solve. Externally, to the Eastward, in place of the one prepotential Power whose massive weight was in itself a peril, were now the disjointed fragments which had ever been Italy's greatest menace: the newly freed Balkan dominions along the Adriatic, now uniting under the new popular impulse of racial affinity and assuming a mask of Neutrality whose chief cohesive cement was hostility to others. Large elements among them had been throughout the war Austria's most zealous fighters and Italy's bitterest foes. From the time of Radetsky on, and long before the time of that ferocious warrior-tyrant, they had been in fierce antagonism to Italy and to the Italian Race. They had been Austria's most deadly and useful instruments in her inexorable progress of attempted subjugation of the Italians. Then they may have been under a certain compulsion, now they were free and voluntary enemies of Italy. They knew well the value of the regions owned and claimed by Italy---both of the fertile valleys of the Isonzo and the port-indented coast of Istria and Dalmatia.
On the other side, Italy's difficulties were not greatly diminished. France, who had in the past fought with her and for her and had been fought for by her, had come out of the war with no love for her---indeed, with her antagonistic feeling rather quickened---whether because of antagonistic interests which had developed during the Balkan campaigns or for other reasons. Wherever Italian and French troops were thrown together there was liable to be a clash.
Internally Italy's difficulties were hardly less. She was overburdened with debt and now with the disappearance of the Austrian menace on her borders all of the internal problems which had confronted her in the past and had been laid during the war again arose to trouble her.
No sooner had the immediate peril been allayed than the extreme Expansionist party began to agitate in favor of extending the Ægis of Italy over regions outside, of those hitherto included in any previous expression of her aspirations. Against this were aligned the Pacifists and other opponents of the Government, who had been held in check while hostilities continued, but now on their cessation were ready to reassert their opposition.
To the Socialists and other opponents of the Government were now added in some regions a new element of Extremists, who had been infected with the virus of the new Russian Bolshevism and had to be watched and held in subordination to the Law. And quite separate from these---so separate as to be almost their antipodes, yet with a common ground in their fundamental opposition to the Government---were the Clericals, who now that the war was over, were apparently ready to manifest their opposition on any occasion that might promise to advance their ideas as to the Roman Question.
Out of the obstacles which Italy encountered in the early days that followed the Armistice, in the adjustment of the questions pertaining to the Adriatic, arose a condition which had not only caused great difficulties in coming to a conclusion acceptable to all concerned, but has delayed and imperilled the final settlement of Peace.
Among the difficulties which Italy found herself confronting when the active period of the war closed were both economical and political problems of far-reaching import. She had no coal, little grain, and little of other articles of prime necessity. She had to repatriate her prisoners, some half million men of whom some---not a large number, but an inconvenient element---were the renegades of Caporetto. She had to face the problem of demobilization and the incidental problem of giving her demobilized soldiers occupation and bread; she had to reconvert her munition-factories into factories for articles of Peace. She had to organize, administer, and support the newly redeemed regions, and rebuild and administer the overrun provinces. And she had to secure and organize and administer the regions beyond the Adriatic which she claimed under the Pact of London and the Armistice---regions where, mainly, her right was seriously questioned.
Further, she had to revert from a condition of war, where the Government ruled with recognized war-powers, to a condition of Peace, in which such war-powers having ceased, the people would expect to reap the fruit of their sacrifices and would look for the resumption of their Liberty in every form. This included abolition of the censorship and freedom of the press, of speech, and of public meetings, etc., which meant the recrudescence of opposition in every form to the Government. And all this was in the winter---with the scantiest supplies of food and coal. And all the time the grim spectre of Bolshevism was stretching farther across Europe.
There was but one means to meet the situation: an appeal to the pride and patriotism of the Italian people; to keep them satisfied; to hold up to them their great accomplishment; and the hope of further accomplishment, to keep their attention focussed on matters outside and not inside of Italy.
The feeling of National Unity on the part of the Italian People had been immeasurably intensified by the war. The disaster of Caporetto had given it a depth never approached before. The sacrifices made universally throughout the Country were a bond which had blotted out in a feeling of common sympathy all previous division. And now with the common glory of the final, far-reaching Victory which crushed the power of Austria and was the prelude to crushing that of Germany, they turned the aspiration for the redemption of the remaining irredentist regions into a consuming passion. The press rang with it. The Piazzas hummed with it. The attitude of the Jugo-Slavs only fanned the flames. Italy---all Italy--- had to be redeemed.(136)
The feeling of the people in this matter coincided with that of the stronger element of those leaders who at this time had the control of Italian affairs. Undoubtedly, if the latter had not been quietly leading the people in this direction, they were happy to see the drift of Public Opinion. Thus, as the tide set more strongly in this direction the expansionists grew bolder. The Army or a strong element in it were ready to support the idea---whether against Jugo-Slavia or other Austrian fragments, or France. The strongest civil leader of this steadily strengthening element was the silent Head of the Consulta, who sat in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with his Treaty of London securely grasped, saying nothing publicly as to this or any other Italian aspiration, yet permitting, if he did not actively prompt, the expansionist idea to spread and take root where it could.
With the personal achievement of having secured so much for Italy from France and England, with his known devotion to Italian Interests, and with his indifference to public censure or applause, he came to exercise immense power. It was recognized that he did not care for the Premiership and was not working for any personal ends, but only for Italy; also that he was impervious to any influence of personal ambition. Thus, whatever rivalries or ambitions others may have had, Sonnino stood secure.
There was another element both in the Country and in the Parliament, which felt the necessity of getting back to peace as quickly as possible, so that Italy might resume, with as little delay as conditions would admit, her normal life. These held that Italy's true policy was to create friendly rather than hostile relations with her neighbors and, having regained her unredeemed regions, not to start the new era with taking over what in the future would inevitably create a new Irredentism, with Italy this time as the suppressor if not the oppressor.
These were looking forward, rather than having their gaze fixed on the past or even the present. They had encouraged the Congress in Rome of the Oppressed Peoples, in April, 1918. They did not approve wholly of the Treaty of London in which Sonnino took so much pride. They rather acquiesced in the Principles of the President of the United States as set forth by him in his addresses as a basis of a World-Peace which had been accepted alike by the Allies and by the Central Powers, when the latter applied in October to the President to secure an armistice that would bring about Peace.
The leader of these more moderate expansionists was now Reformed Socialist, Leonidas Bissolati himself, a man of impregnable convictions. These convictions soon brought him into collision in the Cabinet with Baron Sonnino, and after a contest, echoes of which reached outside of the Council Chamber in the Palazzo Braschi, Bissolati resigned. A short time afterward there was published in the London press, in the form of an interview with Bissolati, a statement of his position touching the Italian frontier and the Dalmatian coast. This interview was made the occasion of a furious attack on Bissolati in the Italian press, which appeared greatly aggrieved that he should have sought to present his views on so acute a question through the medium of a foreign paper.(137)
Soon after this, Bissolati delivered, or attempted to deliver, in a theatre in Milan an address in which he set forth his views on this now universally agitated question. His views were moderate, his convictions profound, his reasoning forcible, his eloquence extraordinary. No one could tell what effect such views so powerfully advocated might have on the Public. A hostile demonstration was arranged to prevent his speaking, and the case of the Moderates was not presented. Bissolati retired from public life amid denunciation almost too furious to have been wholly spontaneous. The effect of this contest was the defeat not only of Bissolati, but of the whole Moderate programme and the triumph of the Nationalist Element. Those who were timid were whipped in; even those who were stronger bowed before the storm. The Nationalists grew rapidly bolder and more aggressive, and set about forcing the hand of the Government, which had some trouble in controlling them. A press campaign was inaugurated which assumed a complexion of bitterness toward all the Allies. And it was apparently unopposed by the Governmental censorship. And soon the sympathy with which Italy was beginning to be regarded in other countries as her contribution to the common cause had begun to be made known was supplanted by something of the same suspicion which had been manifested before her great achievement: that her motives were largely egotistic rather than those claimed as theirs by her Allies.
The Peace Congress had become the centre of the worldstage, with the President of the United States and his Principles, which had performed such wonders, holding the spot-light, somewhat to the envy of the rest of the Dramatis Personae, who were ready, should opportunity offer, to unite and overthrow him. Against him was arrayed, however secretly, every form of opposition that the long-established and deep-rooted traditions of ancient secret European Diplomacy could muster. And, whether admitted or not, it was well understood among his European colleagues that between them was an issue which went to the very foundations. For at the bottom of all his principles lay Democracy. Now, at least in the beginning, hardly one of his colleagues of the Great Powers actually believed in Democracy according to the American definition---save academically, any more than they believed in a League of Nations or other organization which should lay down the confines of States, small and great, on equitable lines acceptable to the Small States, and then should establish a rule which should reverse the custom of ages, and protect the small States against the large States.
At the start, however, the President's Principles, whose enunciation had contributed so markedly to bring the war to a close, had been so universally accepted by the Peoples of the different Countries, as a species of Divine Revelation, that equipped with them and believed to have the United States behind him, he was too strong to be resisted. The Peoples of the Entente Powers had accepted his views almost en masse. And undoubtedly, the new spirit inspired by him had driven from their thrones the Emperors of the Central Empires and the other monarchs, who in that eventful November week when Imperialism was crashing to the earth, sought safety in Abdication.(138)
For a time the feeling in Italy was directed against France and England, especially against France which was considered to have been the strong supporter of the Jugo-Slav
Opposition to Italy's claims touching the Adriatic settlement. And the situation became such that not only the Italian press was as bitter in its denunciation as the Censorship would tolerate, but serious collisions ensued between French and Italian troops, both on the Istrian-Dalmatian side of the Adriatic and in Italy, in which occurred a considerable number of casualties and a number of deaths on both sides. A collision at Leghorn was especially violent. Some thirty odd French soldiers were killed or wounded. How many Italians were killed was not stated. The situation became, indeed, so threatening that on a presentation of the case by Italy, General Franchet-d'Espérey, who commanded in the Balkans, was sent for to Paris and some accommodation was arrived at.
The war having ceased and the immediate peril having been removed, antagonisms revived in America as in Italy. The programme of the President in the matter of the League of Nations as a constituent part of the Treaty of Peace was strongly attacked, and a section of the American press began to assail the President for his action in Paris in connection with the Peace Congress, and especially for his attitude respecting the League of Nations. The effect in Europe of this division in America was instantaneous. Articles from the adverse anti-administration American press were seized on and reproduced again and again in the Italian press, and, indeed, in the press in Paris, and to some extent in London also, as a weapon against the President and his principles. And at the same instant all the opposition to the League of Nations and to the terms of the Peace Treaty itself, so far as they had been suggested, reared its head and assailed the alleged dominating attitude of the President and of the United States.
Unhappily, the Peace Treaty with the League of Nations, which hitherto had been accepted as the basis of the negotiations, became a partisan issue in the United States. And thus, into the already difficult problems which were overwhelming the Peace Congress was injected this question which complicated everything immeasurably, and has so far resulted in intensifying the universal turmoil.
It was only when across the water came the story of the strong hostility of those who were trying to rally against the President all the elements of opposition to his Programme, that the Reactionary forces in Europe revived sufficiently to make bead against his hitherto triumphant ideas, and thwart his far-reaching plan of a Peace based on principles rather than on power.
Shortly subsequent to this, whatever the influence may have been, the tone of the correspondence from Paris changed markedly, and the Italian press shifted its polemical discussion from France to "the Anglo-Saxon Entente" ---which was declared to have designs more imperialistic than the Germans and Austrians had manifested.
Up to this time, however explicable may have been their resentment at the refusal of the other Powers to accept their views and concede to them their contention, the errors, from the Diplomatic standpoint, had been preponderantly with the Italians. The Italian propaganda had been mainly confined to Italy itself. Satisfied as to the merits of their position, little attention was paid to convincing the other Nations as to its justice. They continued to claim under the Treaty of London certain concessions, the manifest reason for which had disappeared in the maelstrom of the war---such for example, as the entire line of Concessions on the Eastern side of the Adriatic---concessions which had been based on Italy's danger from Austria---and the Dodecanese Islands, whose population was Greek. And, at the same time they claimed what was not in those concessions, viz., Fiume and the contiguous coast, which Sonnino at the time of the negotiation of the London Treaty, had on Russia's insistence, conceded to the Croatians as an outlet for the great region whose chief port it was naturally destined to become.
This arrayed against Italy all the other Greater Powers represented at Paris, and also the smaller powers whose interests were affected by this attitude, such as Serbia, Greece, and the Slav States along the Adriatic and beyond it. The fundamental difficulty was that these Powers believed that apart from her claims to a secure frontier and to the redemption of her own people, Italy's aspiration touching the Adriatic was to make it substantially a closed sea and thus control the great regions beyond it.
In fact, the other Powers apprehended that Italy, if she did not design to make of the Adriatic an Italian lake, at least designed to obtain such a dominant position in relation to it that she could control it, both strategically and commercially, and with it could control the great region beyond it. The Italian press spoke of it as "Our Sea": the Italian Sea; Italian maps termed the upper Adriatic the Gulf of Venice.
The problem was a difficult one at best, with the Powers concerned all having rival interests which they never for a moment put out of mind; and only a compelling common recognition of the need to solve it, without delay, by mutual concessions in a broad and catholic spirit, could have resulted in a sound solution.
This, unfortunately, was wanting---and the consequences are the present unhappy conditions in Europe.
England and France had been brought, apparently somewhat reluctantly and resentfully, to admit that they were still bound by the agreement in the Treaty of London; but they looked to the United States to cut this knot. And many earnest attempts were made to find a harmonizing formula that would satisfy, on the one hand, Italy's Commissioners, and, on the other, those of the other Powers concerned. But in the end they all failed. Before the Winter was ended, the Peace Conference at Paris was in a deadlock over Italy's claims touching regions on the Eastern side of the Adriatic which have not yet been adjusted.
The President toward the end of April (22), 1919, addressed, with the knowledge and acquiescence of the chief Representatives of England and France at the Peace Conference at Versailles, a Communication to the World in which the Adriatic question with Italy's relation thereto was presented.
The President, who had visited Italy in January, where he had been received with extraordinary appreciation, was personally most friendly to the Italians; but the lines which, in harmony with the Representatives of Great Britain and France, he laid down as her frontier were those reported by a Commission of Geographic Military Boundary experts as in accordance with his principles, and these principles he felt bound by irrevocably. This report assigned the Eastern side of Istria, Fiume and the Dalmatian coast to the Jugo-Slavs. Unhappily those lines, based on certain principles, took no account of the passion of the Italian People.
On the other hand the Italian People, who in the beginning knew little of Fiume, had come since the controversy arose to feel that Fiume was Italian, and that an Italian City was being given up to their enemies. And what was more galling to them: that Italy was being placed by her Allies in the same category with those who had fought against them. The former contravened their sentiment, the latter struck them to the heart. To place Italy, as it were, in the same scale with those who had fought against them outraged their sentiment beyond hope of correction. Fiume became on the sudden the token of Italy's sacrifices and on it focussed the passion of her People.(139)
Some intimation of the intention to issue this public statement had been previously given and, indeed, a memorandum had been sent to the Italian Commission, on April 14, and the Italian press was prepared for it in advance. The publication was promptly taken as an appeal to the Italian People over the heads of their responsible Government, and was hotly resented. The Italian Commissioners, deeply incensed, left Paris and, preparations having been duly made, were received with great honor at Rome;(140) and on a statement of the case before the Parliament they received not only a vote of Confidence, but of entire approval, which was echoed throughout the Country. It was wittily said that the Allies had brought Italy to a closer internal solidarity than even the Central Empires had been able to effect. Public meetings were held in Rome and elsewhere in condemnation of the President's act, and the People were stirred to deep resentment. The press, never too measured in its condemnation, applied all its powers to denunciation of the Author of the published statement, and the agitation was kept at fever heat as long as possible.
In fact, the People were deeply stirred by what was presented to them by the press as a case not merely of want of appreciation, but of betrayal by one whom they had considered and honored greatly as their friend and Italy's friend.(141)
After a short time as it became manifest that the Peace negotiations at Versailles were proceeding unhindered by the absence of the Italians, and that the Treaty would probably be signed by the Commissioners of the other Powers, the Italian Commissioners returned to Paris, and the attempt was renewed to arrive at a settlement of the Adriatic question. But, although earnest efforts were made to arrive at a formula that would harmonize the differences, unhappily they did not succeed.
Then ensued the hare-brained enterprise headed by the Poet-Orator, D'Annunzio, whose picturesque audacity captured not only Fiume, but the sentiment of many besides the Italians, who acclaimed him as a second Garibaldi. It, however, destroyed all chance of settling the matter immediately and complicated the situation beyond the possibility of pacific diplomatic adjustment.
The Orlando-Sonnino Ministry, which had contributed so much to bring the war to a triumphant close, was overthrown in the general commotion. A new Ministry under the able leadership of Signor Nitti took its place, only to follow its predecessor after an earnest and patriotic attempt to steer the Country through the tempestuous seas that threatened to overwhelm it. And in its room has now been formed a Ministry under the veteran Giolitti, whose experience, sagacity, and ability are being put to the severest test that able leader has ever known in his long career.
Italy's course subsequent to the War and her present situation, as complicated as it is, are not, however, properly the subject of this volume.
Italy claims officially that she lost in the war a half-million men killed; that she had, besides, nearly a million and a half more wounded, of whom some two hundred thousand are permanently disabled; and that she spent more of her wealth in proportion to her property Values than any other of the Allies. That after efforts so heroic, losses so great, and sacrifices so immeasurable, she should be left with so profound a feeling of injustice to her on the part of her former allies is, indeed, a malign fortune. Yet, whatever the immediate issue of the present unhappy complications may be, those who know Italy and know what she performed during the war will rest assured that however the questions which rack her to-day may be settled she will reap in time the fruit of her sacrifices, and will arrive at last at the goal of a great and puissant Nation, established in Constitutional Liberty as a champion of Civilization to which, through the ages, she has so greatly contributed.
TEXT OF THE ARMISTICE WITH AUSTRIA
SIGNED BY GENERAL DIAZ ON NOVEMBER
TO GO INTO EFFECT AT 3 O'CLOCK. NOVEMBER 4, 1918
TEXT OF ARMISTICE:
A. MILITARY CLAUSES
One---The immediate cessation of hostilities by land, and sea, and air.
Two---Total demobilization of the Austro-Hungarian Army and immediate withdrawal of all Austro-Hungarian forces operating on the front from the North Sea to Switzerland.
Within Austro-Hungarian territory, limited as in Clause Three, below, there shall only be maintained as an organized military force a maximum of twenty divisions reduced to pre-war effectives.
Half the divisional, corps, and army artillery and equipment shall be collected at points to be indicated by the Allies and United States of America for delivery to them, beginning with all such material as exists in the territories to be evacuated by the Austro-Hungarian forces.
Three---Evacuation of all territories invaded by Austro-Hungary since the beginning of the war.
Withdrawal within such periods as shall be determined by the Commander in Chief of the allied forces on each front of the Austro-Hungarian armies behind a line fixed as follows: From Piz Umbrail to the north of the Stelvio it will follow the crest of the Rhetian Alps up to the sources of the Adige and the Eisach, passing thence by Mounts Reschen and Brenner and the heights of Oetz and Ziller. The line thence turns south, crossing Mount Toblach and meeting the present frontier of the Carnic Alps. It follows this frontier up to Mount Tarvis, and after Mount Tarvis the watershed of the Julian Alps by the Col of Predil, Mount Mangart, the Tricorno, (Terglou,) and the watershed of the Cols di Podberdo, Podlaniscam, and Idria. From this point the line turns southeast toward the Schneeberg, excluding the whole basin of the Save River and its tributaries; from the Schneeberg it goes down toward the coast in such a way as to include Castua, Mattuglia, and Volosca in the evacuated territories.
It will also follow the administrative limits of the present province of Dalmatia, including in the north Lisarica and Trivania, and to the south territory limited by a line from the shore of (Semigrand) Cape Planca to the summits of the watersheds eastward, so as to include in the evacuated area all the valleys and water courses flowing toward Sebenico, such as the Cicola, Kerka, Butisnica, and their tributaries. It will also include all the islands in the north and west of Dalmatia from Premuda, Selve, Ulbo, Scherda, Maon, Pago, and Puntadura Islands, in the north, up to Meleda, in the south, embracing Sant' Andrea, Busi, Lissa, Lesina, Tereola, Curzolä, Cazza, and Lagosta, as well as the neighboring rocks and islets and Pelagosa, only excepting the islands of Great and Small Zirona, Bua, Solta, and Brazza.
All territory thus evacuated will be occupied by Allied and American troops.
All military and railway equipment of all kinds (including coal) belonging to or within those territories to be left in situ and surrendered to the Allies and America, according to special orders given by the Commander in Chief of the forces of the associated powers on the different fronts. No new destruction, pillage, or requisition to be done by enemy troops in the territories to be evacuated by them and occupied by the associated powers.
Four---Allied armies shall have the right of free movement over all road and rail and water ways in Austro-Hungarian territory and of the use of the necessary Austrian and Hungarian means of transportation. The armies of the associated powers shall occupy such strategic points in Austria-Hungary at times as they may deem necessary to enable them to conduct military operations or to maintain order.
They shall have the right of requisition on payment for the troops of the associated powers wherever they may be.
Five---Complete evacuation of all German troops within fifteen days, not only from the Italian and Balkan fronts, but from all Austro-Hungarian territory.
Internment of all German troops which have not left Austria-Hungary before that date.
Six---The administration of the evacuated territories of Austria-Hungary will be intrusted to the local authorities, under the control of the allied and associated armies of occupation.
Seven---The immediate repatriation without reciprocity of all allied prisoners of war and internal subjects of civil populations evacuated from their homes, on conditions to be laid down by the Commander in Chief of the forces of the allied powers on the various fronts.
Eight---Sick and wounded who cannot be removed from evacuated territory will be cared for by Austro-Hungarian personnel, who will be left on the spot with the medical material required.
B. NAVAL CONDITIONS
One---Immediate cessation of all hostilities at sea and definite information to be given as to the location and movements of all Austro-Hungarian ships.
Notification to be made to neutrals that freedom of navigation in all territorial waters is given to the naval and mercantile marines of the allied and associated powers, all questions of neutrality being waived.
Two---Surrender to the Allies and the United States of America of fifteen Austro-Hungarian submarines completed between the years 1910 and 1918, and of all German submarines which are in or may hereafter enter Austro-Hungarian territorial waters. All other Austro-Hungarian submarines to be paid off and completely disarmed and to remain under the supervision of the Allies.
Three---Surrender to the Allies and the United States with their complete armament and equipment of three battleships, three light cruisers, nine destroyers, twelve torpedo boats, one mine layer, six Danube monitors, to be designated by the Allies and the United States of America. All other surface warships, including river craft, are to be concentrated in Austro-Hungarian naval bases to be designated by the Allies and the United States of America and are to be paid off and completely disarmed and placed under the supervision of the Allies and the United States of America.
Four---Free navigation to all warships and merchant ships of the allied and associated powers to be given in the Adriatic and up the River Danube and its tributaries in the territorial waters and territory of Austria-Hungary.
The Allies and associated powers shall have the right to sweep up all mine fields and obstructions, and the positions of these are to be indicated.
In order to insure the freedom of navigation on the Danube, the Allies and the United States of America shall be empowered to occupy or to dismantle all fortifications or defense works.
Five---The existing blockade conditions set up by the allied and associated powers are to remain unchanged and all Austro-Hungarian merchant ships found at sea are to remain liable to capture, with the exceptions which may be made by a commission nominated by the Allies and the United States of America.
Six---All naval aircraft are to be concentrated and immobilized in Austro-Hungarian bases to be designated by the Allies and the United States of America.
Seven---Evacuation of all Italian coasts and of all ports occupied by Austria-Hungary outside their national territory and the abandonment of all floating craft, naval materials, equipment and materials for inland navigation of all kinds,
Eight---Occupation by the Allies and the United States of America of the land and sea fortifications and the islands which form the defenses and of the dockyards and arsenal at Pola.
Nine---All merchant vessels held by Austria-Hungary belonging to the Allies and associated powers to be returned.
Ten---No destruction of ships or materials to be permitted before evacuation, surrender, or restoration.
Eleven---All naval and mercantile marine prisoners of war of the allied and associated powers in Austro-Hungarian hands to be returned without reciprocity.
The undersigned plenipotentiaries duly authorized, signify their approval of above conditions:
3rd November, 1918.
|Representatives of the Austro-Hungarian Supreme Command||Representatives of Italian Supreme Command|
|Victor Weber, Edler von Webenau||Ten. Gen. Pietro Badoglio|
|Karl Schneller||Magg. Gen. Scipione Sciopioni|
|Y. von Lichtenstein||Colonn. Tullio, Marchetti|
|J. V. Nyékhegyi||Colonn. Pietro Gazzera|
|Zwierkowski||Colonn. Pietro Maravigna|
|Victor, Freiherr von Seiller||Colonn. Alberty Pariani|
|Kamillo Ruggera||Cap. Vasc. Francesco Accinni|
TEXT OF THE PACT OF LONDON
SIGNED ON APRIL 26,1915
The Marquis Imperiali, acting on the instructions of his [the Italian] Government, has the honor to communicate the following memorandum to the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Sir Edward Grey; the Ambassador of France, M. Cambon, and the Ambassador of Russia, Count Benckendorff :
ARTICLE 1.---A military convention is to be concluded without delay between the General Staffs of France, Great Britain, Russia, and Italy to determine the minimum number of troops which Russia would have to throw against Austria-Hungary if the latter should want to concentrate all her forces against Italy. Russia should decide mainly to attack Germany. Similarly the said convention is to regulate the questions relating to armistices, in so far as such armistices form an essential part of the competence of the Supreme Army Command.
ARTICLE 2.---On her part Italy undertakes by all means at her disposal to conduct the campaign in union with France, Great Britain, and Russia against all the powers at war with them.
ARTICLE 3.---The naval forces of France and Great Britain are to render uninterrupted and active assistance to Italy until such time as the navy of Austria has been destroyed or peace has been concluded. A naval convention is to be concluded without delay between France, Great Britain, and Italy.
ARTICLE 4.---By the future treaty of peace, Italy is to receive the district of Trentino; the entire Southern Tyrol up to its natural geographical frontier, which is the Brenner Pass; the city and district of Trieste; the County of Gorizia and Gradisca; the entire Istria up to the Quarnero, including Volosca and the Istrian islands of Cherso, and Lussino, as well as the smaller Islands of Plavinika, Unia, Canidole, Palazzuolo, S. Petro dei Nembi, Asinello, and Grutzo, with the neighboring islands.
Note 1.---Here follow the details of the frontier delimitations: In execution of the conditions of Article 4 the frontier line should run as follows: From the summit of the Umbrile northward as far as Stelvio, thence along the watershed of the Rhetian Alps as far as the sources of the Adige and the Eisach; after which it will cross the heights of the Reschon and the Brenner and those of the Etz and the Tiller. The frontier will then turn southward, passing round Mount Tobloch in order to reach the real frontier of Carniola, which is near to the Alps. Passing along this frontier, the line will reach Mount Tarvis and follow the watershed of the Julian Alps beyond the crests of the Predil, the Mangart, and the Tricorne, (Triglav,) and the defiles of Podberdo, Poldansko, and Idria. Thence it will turn in a southeasterly direction toward the Schneeberg, in such a way as to exclude the basin of the Save and its tributaries from Italian territory. From the Schneeberg the frontier will descend toward the seacoast---Castua, Matuglia, and Volosca being considered as Italian districts.
ARTICLE 5.---Italy will likewise receive the Province of Dalmatia in its present frontiers, including Lisserica and Trebigne, (Trebanje,) in the north, and all the country in the south up to a line drawn from the coast, at the promontory of Planka, eastward along the watershed in such a way as to include in the Italian possessions all the valleys of the rivers flowing into the Sebenico---viz., Cikola, Kerka, and Buotisnica---with all their affluents. Italy will likewise obtain all the islands situated to the north and west of the coasts of Dalmatia, beginning with Premuda, Selve, Ulbo, Skerda, Maob Pago, and Puntadura, and further north, and down to Melada in the south, with the inclusion of the Islands of St. Andrea, Busi, Lissa, Lesina, Torcola, Curzola, Cazza, and Lagosta, with all the adjacent rocks and islets, as well as Pelagosa, but without the Islands of Zirona Grande and Zirona Piccola, Bua, Solta, and Brazza.
The following are to be neutralized: (1) the entire coasts from Planka, in the north, to the southern extremity of the Sabbioncello peninsula, including this last-named peninsula in its entirety; (2) the part of the littoral from a point ten versts south of the promontory of Ragusa Vecchia to the Viosa (Vojuzza) River, so as to include in the neutralized zone the entire Gulf of Cattaro, with its ports of Antivari, Dulcigno, San Giovanni di Medua, and Durazzo; the rights of Montenegro, arising from the declarations exchanged by the two contracting parties as far back as April and May, 1909, remaining intact. Nevertheless, in view of the fact that those rights were guaranteed to Montenegro within her present frontiers, they are not to be extended to those territories and ports which may eventually be given to Montenegro. Thus, none of the ports of the littoral now belonging to Montenegro is to be neutralized at any future time. On the other hand, the disqualifications affecting Antivari, to which Montenegro herself agreed in 1909, are to remain in force; (3) lastly, all the islands which are not annexed to Italy.
Note 2.---The following territories on the Adriatic will be included by the powers of the Quadruple Entente in Croatia, Serbia, and Montenegro: In the north of the Adriatic, the entire coast from Volosca Bay, on the border of Istria, to the northern frontier of Dalmatia, including the entire coast now belonging to Hungary, and the entire coast of Croatia, the port of Fiume, and the small ports of Novi and Carlopago, and also the Islands of Veglia, Perviccio, Gregorio, Coli, and Arbe; and in the south of the Adriatic, where Serbia and Montenegro have interests, the entire coast from Planka up to the River Drin, with the chief ports of Spalato, Ragusa, Cattaxo, Antivari, Dulcigno, and San Giovanni di Medua, with the Islands of Zirona Grande, Zirona Piccola, Bua, Solta, Brazza, Jaklian, and Calamotta.
The port of Durazzo may be given to the independent Mohammedan State of Albania.
ARTICLE 6.---Italy will receive in absolute property Valona, the Islands of Sasseno, and as much territory as would be required to secure their military safety---approximately between the River Voyazza in the north and in the east down to the borders of the Chimara district in the south.
ARTICLE 7.---Italy, having received Trentino and Istria in accordance with Article 4, and Dalmatia and the Adriatic islands in accordance with Article 5, and the Gulf of Valona, is not, in case of the creation of a small autonomous and neutralized State in Albania, to resist the possible desire of France, Great Britain, and Russia to distribute among Montenegro, Serbia, and Greece the northern and southern parts of Albania. The latter's southern littoral from the frontier of the Italian district of Valona to Capo Stylos is to be neutralized. Italy is to have the right to conduct foreign relations with Albania; at any rate, Italy is to agree to the inclusion in Albania of a territory large enough to allow her frontiers to touch those of Greece and Serbia, west of Ochrida Lake.
ARTICLE 8.---Italy will obtain all the twelve islands (Dodecanese) now occupied by her, in full possession.
ARTICLE 9.---France, Great Britain, and Russia admit in principle the fact of Italy's interest in the maintenance of the political balance of power in the Mediterranean , and her rights, in case of a partition of Turkey, to a share, equal to theirs, in the basin of the Mediterranean---viz., in that part of it which adjoins the Province of Adalia, in which Italy has already acquired special rights and interests defined in the Italo-British Convention. The zone which is to be made Italy's property is to be more precisely defined in due course in conformity with the vital interests of France and Great Britain. Italy's interests will likewise be taken into consideration in case the powers should also maintain territorial integrity of Asiatic Turkey for some future period of time, and if they should only proceed to establish among themselves spheres of influence. In case France, Great Britain, and Russia should, in the course of the present war, occupy any districts of Asiatic Turkey, the entire territory adjacent to Adalia and herewith more specifically defined is to be left to Italy, who reserves her right to occupy it.
ARTICLE 10.---In Libya, Italy is to enjoy all those rights and privileges which now belong to the Sultan in virtue of the Treaty of Lausanne.
ARTICLE 1l.---Italy is to get a share in the war indemnity corresponding to the magnitude of her sacrifices and efforts.
ARTICLE 12.---Italy adheres to the declaration made by France, England, and Russia about leaving Arabia and the holy Moslem places in the hands of an independent Moslem power.
ARTICLE 13.---Should France and Great Britain extend their colonial possessions in Africa at the expense of Germany, they will admit in principle Italy's right to demand certain compensation by way of an extension of her possessions in Erythraea, Somaliland, and Libya, and the colonial areas adjoining French and British colonies.
ARTICLE 14.---Great Britain undertakes to facilitate for Italy the immediate flotation on the London market of a loan on advantageous terms to the amount of not less than £50,000,000.
ARTICLE 15.---France, Great Britain, and Russia pledge themselves to support Italy in not allowing the representatives of the Holy See to undertake any diplomatic steps having for their object the conclusion of peace or the settlement of questions connected with the present war.
ARTICLE 16.---The present treaty is to be kept secret. As regards Italy's adhesion to the Declaration of Sept. 5, 1915, this declaration alone will be published immediately on the declaration of war by or against Italy.
Having taken into consideration the present memorandum, the representatives of France, Great Britain, and Russia, being authorized thereto, agreed with the representatives of Italy, likewise authorized thereto, as follows:
France, Great Britain, and Russia express their complete agreement with the present memorandum submitted to them by the Italian Government. In respect of Articles 1, 2, and 3 of the present memorandum, regarding the co-ordination of the military and naval operations of all the four powers, Italy declares that she will actively intervene at an earliest possible date, and, at any rate, not later than one month after the signature of the present document by the contracting parties.
The undersigned have confirmed by hand and seal the present instrument in London in four copies. April 26, 1915.
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