12/7/1916 Austria’s brutal vengeance: the execution of Cesare Battisti

Cesare Battisti was born in Trent, an Italian speaking city in the Austrian-ruled Trentino region. As an adult he became a prominent campaigner for the unification of the Trentino region with Italy. At the start of the war he fled across the border to Italy. Then when Italy joined the war, he enlisted in the Italian army and fought against Austria-Hungary.

But two days ago he was captured while taking part in an Italian attempt to recover territory lost in the Trentino Offensive. He is recognised by his captors. Given that he is a citizen of the Austro-Hungarian empire, they decide to try him for treason, by court martial.

The trial takes place today, in Trent. Justice is swift. Battisti is found guilty and sentenced to death. He asks to be executed by firing squad. Instead, just a few hours after his trial, he is publicly garrotted as a common criminal, wearing hastily procured civilian clothes.

His executioners pose for photographs with his body.

image source

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