It is a week since the armistice between Italy and Austria-Hungary came into effect. Since then the Italians have kept advancing into the occupation zone assigned to them by the armistice, which roughly corresponds to the territories promised to Italy by the Treaty of London. By now they have reached the Brenner Pass in the north and established an overland route to Trieste. Italian forces are also landing on the Dalmatian coast and offshore islands, to a less than warm reception from the Slav inhabitants.
Thanks to the confusion of the war’s last day, when Austria-Hungary stopped fighting 24 hours before the Italians, Italy now holds a vast number of Austro-Hungarian prisoners, with some 430,000 captured in the final day. These are being held in ramshackle conditions and are now dying in large numbers.
The Austro-Hungarians meanwhile are observing the terms of the armistice and have released their Italian prisoners. These were also being held in poor conditions. The food crisis in Austria-Hungary meant that their captors did not have much with which to feed them and the Italian government blocked the transfer of food parcels; as a result Italian prisoners suffered higher mortality rates than frontline combat units in the Italian army. The prisoners are relieved to finally return home, but their sufferings are not yet over. When they reach Italy they find themselves being held in internment camps, once more in poor conditions, where they are interrogated regarding the circumstances of their capture by the enemy. To the Italian authorities, surrendering is prima facie evidence of treason. There is even talk of shipping all the returning prisoners off to Libya.