Monday, February 10, 2014

Trieste in WWI; An Area as Stake

Trieste as the dangling reward. A bargaining chip.  From our old undated Life Magazine, read this excerpt at to Trieste in WWI, regarding Italians, Austrians battling on the peaks: Guns in the Alps.  We have tried searching for the article online, no results, see, Guns in the Alps.

"Though it had been an ally of Germany and Austria, Italy declared itself neutral at the start of the war.  Neither side cared too much at first.  But when the fighting bogged down in France the Italians, seeing a chance to drive a hard bargain, offered to go to war on the side of the highest bidder.  Their price included the city of Trieste and a thick underlip of the Alps, called the Trentino, that overhung the North Italina plain.  Both of them belonged to Austria.  When the Austrians hesitated to hand them over, the Italians turned to the Allies who had nothing ot lose in the deal and were ready to promise the Italians anything.  On May 23, 1915, Italy declared war on Austria-Hungary."

For the historical context, read Trieste, A Novel by Dasa Drndic, published in Croatian in 2007, and now in English, see update at 2014 review on NPR at

Time offers a multitude of topics on Trieste as well, but none as moving as the Drndic book. See;jsessionid=74824B3B90E53ACACB6A9B17377C24EB?Ntt=Trieste&x=10&y=13.  With the beauty of Trieste, it takes digging to see its devastating past.

  •  Ernest Hemingway, who drove an Italian ambulance during the rout of Caporetto, described this area as "the picturesque front." This frontier in the southern Alps covered some 400 miles of majestic scenery, but murderous terrain: with avalanches, soldiers hacking out trenches in the glacial ice or solid rock. 
The Rout of Caporetto is still seen as pivotal to the Germans, a victory for them at the time, see

The Italians focused on this area north of Trieste, on the Isonzo River near a village called Caporetto. But the Austrians prevailed, pushing the Italians back all the way to the Plave River, nearer Venice, some 75 miles west of the Isonzo.   Go the museum at the castle at Salzburg and see the exhibits of the uniforms, the photos, the tragedy of civilian refugees joining the military columns just to make headway elsewhere.  Standstill. Then, when the Germans abandoned them, the Austrians finally themselves mutinied, deserted, and fled.

Some battlegrounds are so impossible to engage, that the tragedy engulfs all sides.  So with the Dolomite Alps, the Italian Alps where such fierce fighting ensued, and with Trieste as the prize. Ultimate dispositions of territory may well have nothing to do with merit, only muscle. 

No comments: