Italy’s political leaders are secretly preparing for war with Austria-Hungary. Looking at the carnage engulfing Europe it is easy to see the warmongers as raving madmen, but from their perspective war makes a certain sense. Territorial concessions at Austria-Hungary’s expense have been promised by the Allies. Italy’s leaders see Austria-Hungary as being on its last legs (perhaps not realising how well the Gorlice-Tarnów offensive is going) and reckon that committing Italy’s army against the Habsburg Empire will finish it off. Prime Minister Salandra also hopes that a short victorious war will serve to unite the fractious nation that is Italy. A successful war should also allow him to dominate Italian politics.
Although Salandra and his allies are proceeding in secret, it is increasingly obvious that Italy’s entry into the war is imminent. The Triple Alliance with Germany and Austria-Hungary has been formally repudiated and there is an increasing bellicosity to the rhetoric emanating from government politicians. Yet the army has still not been mobilised or even informed that war is coming.
General Luigi Cadorna is the chief of staff of the Italian army. Realises that something is up he confronts the prime minister. Thus he learns that Italy is to attack Austria-Hungary by the 26th of May and that he had better have the army ready to do so by then.
Antonio Salandra (Photos of the Great War)
Luigi Cadorna (Wikipedia)