Several were the causes that were at the origin of the First World War.
The conflict of economic interests between Germany, became the first industrial power of the continent, and France and England that hindered the claims of Germany, also on the ground colonial;
The desire for revenge after the defeat of France in 1870 against Germany and the loss of Alsace and Lorraine. The push towards independence of peoples dominated by the Russian and Austrian empire;
Austria, Russia and Italy sought to expand their territories in the Balkans;
Britain felt threatened by the ambitions of the great power of Germany;
Italy claimed Trento and Trieste still in Austro-Hungarian territory.
On the eve of the war Europe was divided into two camps political and diplomatic:
The Triple Alliance formed by Russia, France and England;
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The Triple Alliance formed by Germany, Austria and Italy.
The great European powers, most notably Germany, for years dotavano of new and modern weaponry (aircraft, invented a few decades earlier, tanks and submarines) in anticipation of a possible war.
Among the industrial powers he had unleashed an economic race for control of raw materials with the race to conquer the states of Asia and Africa. To form and defend these colonial empires and their economic interests was essential to resort to arms. Large industrial arricchivamo from the sale of weapons and urged world powers to this the modern arms race.
A part of the public thought that war was the only way to change the social and political situation. The thought that was expressed was: "War is the void because they can breathe better. Leave fewer mouths around the same table. "
1914: start of the conflict
Sarajevo, 28 June 1914: assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.
June 28, 1914, in Sarajevo, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of Austria and Hungary, and his wife Sophie were killed by a Serbian nationalist (in the old photographs, the time of his arrest). The murder blew up international tensions. On July 28, in fact the Austria-Hungary, with the support of his German ally, declared war on Serbia supported by Alliance Russia. At this point they came into play alliances established in previous years, with the exception of Italy which remained neutral for the moment, taking advantage of the clauses required by the triple alliance that had the purpose of defense and not of aggression: Italy claimed to not have no obligation to stand by their side.
Austria - Hungary
In Italy, meanwhile, public opinion was divided. On the one hand there were those who wanted to maintain neutrality (majority) and the other those who wanted to fight alongside the French and the British.
Among the first to be called neutralist, there were the Church with Pope Benedict XV, Socialists and Liberal MPs. Giolitti himself (liberal) were in favor of neutrality, because he thought that in this way Italy could obtain lands that still were under Austrian domination.
The second, called interventionists, wanted to enter the war on the side of the Triple Entente, among these were the nationalists, including Gabriele D'Annunzio, who wanted to free Trento and Trieste (army and Environment Court), large industrial groups as well many Democrats and reformist socialists like Benito Mussolini, who had been expelled from the PSI because pro-war. The decision to go to war or not had an economic impact, in fact, Italy imported from England raw materials and siding with Austria and Germany would have meant losing those supplies.
After months of discussion and conflict in the country, 26 April 1915 the Italian Government, signed a secret pact with France and Britain pledged to go to war in exchange for a promise to gain if they win the land of Trentino, South Tyrol, Trieste, Istria and the city of Vlora in Albania (Treaty of London).
Many were lit and the street demonstration to support the intervention. Italy entered the war on May 24, 1915 alongside the cartel. Germany at the outbreak of war, he decided to reach Paris by invading Belgium and Luxembourg, which were neutral. German troops, however, were unable to reach Paris, because the French put up a strong resistance on the Marne River.
Vanished immediately the illusion of a quick war: the trench war began, in fact, the German troops and the Franco-British countered along the Western Front 800 km long in the trenches, long open corridors in the ground (where soldiers lived exposed to bombs and disease) and for four years the war was a series of attacks by a trench to the other for the conquest of a few kilometers at the price of thousands of deaths. From a war of movement he had gone to a war of position. The Eastern Front was longer and more mobile. The Austrians and the Germans fought hard to stop the Russians who were trying to invade Germany (Battle of Tannemberg and Masuri, 1914) and managed to obtain the withdrawal thanks to the intervention of Turkish army. Russia also lost control of Poland. On the Italian front there were now rushing attacks of the Italians against the Austrians on the Isonzo river, but soon became trench warfare here. Italy endured war in conditions of severe lack of preparation, for months many Italian soldiers could not have his helmet indispensable for trench warfare. In the trenches they were spreading serious diseases, supplies were difficult, the commander General Luigi Cadorna had imposed a harsh discipline. He did not trust his soldiers resorted to severe penalties for any failure by punishing attempted desertion with the shooting. Between May and June of 1916 the Austrian army was engaged in what was called the "punitive expedition", as Italians were traitors to be punished because they had respected the Triple Alliance. The Austrians wanted to enter the Po valley through the plateau of Asiago. The Italian army, however, repelled the offensive and conquered Gorizia in August 1916. The prolongation of the war began to weigh, especially on the Central Powers who could not easily obtain raw materials because the British controlled the seas. Germany faced the British navy in the Battle of Jutland, but it was not enough to steal the British domination of the seas. Then the Germans intensified submarine warfare against all ships suspected of bringing supplies to the opponents. The sinking of the liner Lusitania caused the death of a thousand people, including 124 US citizens and this led to protests and the United States entered the conflict on the side of the Entente April 6, 1917.
The sinking of the Lusitania
1917 was a crucial year for the fate of the conflict not only for the US entry into the war. In March, Russia exploded in a revolution that overthrew the regime of Tsar that led to the Soviet Revolution of October where the power was seized by the communists led by Lenin. To prevent the invasion of its territory, Russia walked out of the war and on March 3, 1918 the peace of Berst-Litovsk settled the conditions of surrender, in fact Russia ceded to Germany, Poland and the Baltic countries and recognized the independence of ' Ukraine. As a result the Austrians moved their troops from the Russian front to the Italian military causing a serious crisis to Italy. The Austrian army strengthened so managed to break through the Italian lines bringing a clear victory in Caporetto near Gorizia 24 October 1917. The Italian army began a retreat, the enemy captured tens of thousands of prisoners and took possession of many. With great difficulty he managed to establish a new line of defense along the river Piave. Cadorna was replaced by the new commander Armando Diaz.
Meanwhile, the growing despair over the war, all the peoples, even those far from combat zones suffered deprivation and hunger, discontent was growing everywhere, in Italy there were strikes and riots over the lack of food. In this difficult situation Pope Benedict XV asked once again the end of the fighting, calling on the warring countries to give up their interests in favor of the general humanity.
Pope Benedict XV
In the spring of 1918 Germany took a last, desperate attack, but this time the French and the British repelled the attack in the second battle of the Marne, and with American support then went on the offensive. Even the Italian army went to the counter to obtain the decisive victory of Vittorio Veneto. November 4, 1918 Austria asked the armistice and Italy proved victorious (today this date is celebrated the feast of the Italian armed forces). The November 11, 1918 was signed the last armistice with Germany. So ended the first world war, the dead were about 9 million, the Italians were more than 600,000. The challenge was to achieve peace and the final talks were held in Paris and peace treaties were signed between 1919 and 1920. The representatives of the four victorious powers (Italy, France, Britain, the United States) had different objectives and there was no lack of moments voltage. US President Wilson had compiled a list of 14 points that summed up the plans for the future European policy, he also gave great importance to the self-determination of nations, that each nation had to be independent and choose their form of government. Germany was held responsible for the war and forced to pay 132 billion gold marks as war damage, also he was deprived of the colonies and had to significantly reduce the army and the navy. Italy received from Austria Trentino, Alto Adige, Venezia Giulia and Trieste. This led to discussions in Paris, the allies behaving as traitors, had given Italy what they had promised with the Treaty of London and this tension was added the difficult situation that our country was to live after the war. Finally the world emerged from the war radically changed, not only in terms of political but also economic. The United States began to emerge as a world power, while Europe was weakened. The war also changed the cultural atmosphere, in fact, with its horrors had ended the optimism with which the century began, began like a much darker period with numerous and serious crisis. The peace conference was held in Paris