White, Cha. (ed.) / The continental times. Supplement: The truth about Italy.
No. 1133. Vol. XXI. No. 66 (June 9, 1915)
The continental times. Supplement to the continental times: The truth about Italy
SUPPLEMENT TO "THE CO TINENTAL TIMES" ABOUT ITALY. THE DOCLMENTARY RND HISTORICRL EVIDENCE THRT ANNIHILRTES ITS HOLLOW PRETE TS. Foreword by R. L. Orchelle. It is difjicult for one who is chiefly concerned with human ideas and principles to restrain his emotions and coach them in the co4 and deliberate language of diplomacy aIer reading the evidence that follows below. But even the smooth silken garment of official dplomnacy cannot hide the just indignatwon, the natural feelings of ontrage, horror and disgust that seize upon men and nations whe! dealing with a mercenary such as Italy. For Italy, as is now clear, was a mercenary and not an ally. She was in fact less than a mercenary, for she was a parasite which, having sucked itself full upon the body of its two friendly hosts, fell away at the first breath of sife. The 'fine Italian hand" of which we once heard must have lost its artistic cunning if not its crimi- nality. For beneath the threadbare garment of the official diplomacy of Italy, all the greed, the fear, the indecision that affect a guilty and treacherous man in an emergency, are here lamentably con- spicuous in the conduct of a nation. One has the ins inctive feeling of dealing with something foul, mean and despicable, somehing reptilian and utterly sordid, when perusing these negotiations in which Italy, taking the coward's advantage of a comrade in distress, seeks to ex- tort or filch the legitimate possessions of the friend she was pledged to support. But this world war has taught us that under the stress of the passions it excites, the national character and the natural characteristics that form its basis, appear naked and unashamed, - here black as Erebus, there ha :t as day. I belive that all history has no spectacle to show so utterly degrading as that of Italy, the anned tr!ictr and brigand, breaking into its brother's house whilst this was on fire, and extorting 1compensations" based upon a rank and disho- r t quibble. Compensation! Compensation!" was her one des re, and her smile and smooth words scarcely ro: cealed her murderous snrl. iirough entirely undeserved this corrupt country onmiht have obtained under duress a great treasare ir the blackmail itwasso shameless tolevy. But its knavish statesmen had already prostituted it to the massy gold and the airy promises of the half- impotent Entente. Its hands were not only no longer free but no longer clean. When it was offered the prizes for which it had lasted and clamored for years, its evil conscience, its suspicion and its fear prevented their acceptance. When it finally came face to face with the igevitale fact of war towards which the Entente had pushed and dragged it, it stammered and hesitated and found no plausible pretext. The scowling, blustering brig- and became the guilty qchool-hoy. It woIuld be futile and even foolish to compare the actions or morals of nations with those of in- dividuals orto judge them by the same standards. The morality of an abstraction like the state must td times and in nature differ form the morality of indi- viduals of that state. But the political morality of an alliance has hitherto been held inviolate by all honorable nations. Honorable nations-that ad- jective, to be sure, will no longer be used in con- nection with Italy. Inaccurate similes must also be guarded aganst, but the wolf of the fable seeking an excuse to attack the lamb that had fallen into a pit finds a clear embodiment in Italy's note terminating the Triple Alliance. I may add that in the terms of this note as well as in its expressi n, I seem to discern the mind and style of Sir Rennel Rodd, the British ambassador at Roine. The black night of English diplo'nacy has darkened the minds and the morals of the entire world. "Compensation!" was Italy's venal cry. Com- pensation she has in part receiv dfrom the Entente in the shape of her thirty pieces of silver. Com- pensation she shall in full, yes, in oveflowing measure receive at the hands of War whose sword she has degraded to an assassin's stiletto, and at the hands of History whose pages she has defiled with a bill of sale and purchase. When the machinations which Servia had bee carrying on for many years were finally revealed in the most terrible manner before thle eyes of the entire world by the murder at Sarajevo, and Austria-Hungary, obeying the mo:t elementary laws of self-perservation, determined to demand a guarantee from Ser- via that these things should cease, it might certainly in all justice have expected an acknow- ledgment of the righteousness of its action. It was hardly to be expected that agreatEmopean Power was to tolerate from a small neighborn- ing state, the most hateful provocations, the systematic prosecution of a movement of disloyalty in its frontier provinces and an unscrupulous cooperation in criminal attacks and extensive conspiracies directe against its safety and integrity without taking the most energetic measures for defence. As little objection could have been raised aganst the form of Austro-Hungary's pro- ceeding as against its inner justification. It was a difference between the Monarchy and an independent state with regard to their mutual relationship. There was nothing to substantiate the supposition that the monarchy was dependent upon the decision of other powers with respect to the measures it was to take in order to secure its security and as peace. Although the point of difference concerned only Austria-Hungary and Servia, thee was nevertheless a possib lity that Russia, igr.or- ing our express decciation that in case of a localized conflict, the sovereignity and ter- ritory of Servia would reman invioate, would for all that seize the welcome oppor- tunity order to cary out a long-prepared aggressive war against Austr a-Hungary and the Ge: man Empire. This intention had be- come more and more maniest through the compreh ensive armaments, the numerous trial mobilizations and the great strategic railways that were under construction. It was in fact, even to be expected thlat the just demands which Servia's intolerable con- duct had torced us to make would be re- jected only when St. Petershurg gave the signal that the moment for attacking the Dual Monarchy bad arrived. For Servia according to the Russian plans was to under- take the duty of deliveting a flank attack upon us,-a part for which Russia had well prepared Servia by means of her frequent expressions of Pan-savic sympathies and consequent political suppor. It was to be clearly foreseen that with the system of alliances and ententes which since some decades forms the basis of European politics, the unjustifiable intemedding of Russia in the controversy between the Mo- marchy and Servia might produce the most serious consequences, and even a general conflict. For there was no room for doubt that the German Empire which fully acknowledged the justice of our charges against Servia, would not fail to pursue that road which its own interests as well as its pledged word decreed, and throw its full power on the side of ihs yearlong ally in order to aid it against a Russ an attack. This, of course, would at o give France that long-awaited favorable opportunity for which it had been lying in wait in order to realize its hopes of revenge. It was I kewise probable that Englaud, despite the fact flat it had denied the existence of any compact with the tvo other Entente Powers, would nevertheless take part in the struggle in order to help crush the prosperous and flourishing German Empire, the rival it so feared and envied. One might a'so have finaly concluded that Turkey, despite the fact that is was still suffering from the after-effects of the Balkan war, would place itself at the side of the Central Powers based on the realization that a victory of Russia would mean an end to its own in dependence. What, then, was the attitude of Italy to this possible European war? The terms of the treaty with the two Central Powers to which Italy for over thirty years owed its security, its peace, the undisturbed develop- ment of its economic and political forces as well as the easy acquisition of two extensive provinces a'ong the Mediterranean, were clear enough. They declared that it was to support its allies against two or more poweis in any war that had not been provoked by them.* It was certainly clear that the action of Austria-Hungay, which after years of unexampled patience and love of peace in the face of the Servian challenge, had simply become inevitable, was not to be construed as a provocation. The attack, on the contrary, proceeded from Russia which in the execu- tion of its ambitious plans desired to make use of Servia as a sort of wedge directed at the heart of the Dual Monarchy. Indications, of course, were not wanting that Italy would refrain from entering the war on the side of its allies- as not only the letter but the spirit of the a.lance obviously obliged it to do.** After the dubious position that Italy had assumed at the time of the Agercias question al during the crisis following upon the annexation of Bosnia-ferzogovina and after the conference of Racconigi as well as its cn- tlined fdrtations-with the Triple Entente, Aushia-Hungary and Germany were forced to cherish the suspicion that Italy would withdraw from its obligations as an ally and seek to justify this by all manner of qu bbling interpretations of the text of the contract. Though there was for this reason little depen- dance to be placed upon a carrying- out by Italy of its duties as a party to the All ance, it was certainly to be expected that Austria- Hungary and Germany might at least count upon a benevelent or friendly neutrality on the part of their ally in the tremendous struggle they were forced to wage. The developments of events during the first stages of the war substantiated this assumption, and gave no hint of the mon- strous breach of faith and teachery of which Italy was subsequently to make itself guilty. During this first period which begins with the delivery of our Note at Belgrade and extends into the winter months, the attitude of Italy was determined by three points of view. The first was due to its determination not to discard its neutrality for the present, but to proceed vigorously with extensive military preparations, the second to an endeavor to justify its neutral position by the text of the agreement and to reassure its allies by protestations of friendship; the third by the intention of obliging Austria-Hungary by a vioknt interpretation of Article VII of the terms of the Triple Alliance to acknow- ledge that Italy was entitled to compensations equal to any conquests that the Dual Monarchy might make i Servia and Monte- negro. (Appendix No. 3). In accordance with this the Italian Ministry, after a previou oral communicatin to the same effect by the Marquis di San Giuliano, came to the conclusion on the Ist of August, 1914, that Italy would remain neutral. The reasons alleged for ths were that the action of the Dual Monarchy with regard to Servia constituted an aggressive act against Russa, for which reason Italy was not obliged to carry out its obligations under the Treaty. This assertion is amply contradictd by merely calling attention to the wel-knovn and ex- tensive military preparations of Russia for an aggressive war against the two Central Powers and by the absolute independence of Servia. Another rearon advanced for Italy's attitude was that its exposed coasts would subject it to greit danger in the event of a world war. This may be true, though it would in no wise excuse that country ftomn fulfilling its dutiet. The final objection was that Austria- Hungary, in violation of Article VII of the Agreement, had neglected to inform Italy of the decisive step it was about to take, and * Article Ill of the terms of the Triple Alliance in translation reads as follows: "In case two of the parties to the agreement without direct pro- vocation on their part are attacked by two or more Great Powers not signatoiy to this treaty, and thereby involved in war, a casus foederns would be established for all the signatories to this treaty." ** Article IV of the Agreement of the Triple Alliance provides even for the contingency of a warlike initative by one of the allies and for the friendly neutrality of the others. In trans- lation this reads: 'lIi the event that a Great Power which is not a signatory to this contract should threaten the security of one of the sig- natcry states, and the state so threatened be forced to declare war, the two other powers thereby pledge themselves to observe a bene- volent neutrauty towards their ally. In that case each reserves to itself the right of taking part in the war in common with its ally should it deem this to be advisable. that it refused to accept the Italian inter- pretation of this article. The relation between the latter point and the real facts shall be discussed in detail a little furthr on. (Appen- dix No. 4). Although these Italian arguments could scarcely be conceived as sound, Austria-Hun- gary nevertheless accepted the declaration of Italy's neutrality without any particular ob- jections, the more so since Italy at the same again declared its intention of abiding by the remaining terms of the Alliance and even of possibly coop rating later w th its part- ners. All these proclamation; were made in a tone of evident friendliness and sincerity. Side by side with thete dscussions regar- ding the question of netitrality must be con- sidered the action of Italy undertaken as early as the 2;th of July, 1914 This, as already explained in the foreg-oing, had for its goal a granting of compensations based upon Article VII of the terms of the Triple Alliance in the event of the occupation of Servian territory by Austrian- Hungarian troops. (Appendix No. 2.) The history as well as the language of this article make it perfectly clear that its conditions apply wholly and solely to the event of Turkish territory being so occupied. This article was inserted in the treaty at the request of Italy in the year 1887, that is to say at a time when the terms of settle- ment were meant to regulate merely the future destiny of Turkey and its teritory. There is not the slightest doubt that these agreements had been reached in order to prevent the interests of one party from suffering any disadvantages in respect to the other without some equalizing consideration coming into play, should that unaltered maintainance of the the Turkish position in Europe which it was the desire of the Alliance to uphold, be rendered impossible. No thought at that time had been given to non-Turkish possessions in the Balkan peninsula. This is clearly evident from the text which has remained unaltered since 1887, and which makes plain the fact that the Turkish coast districts alon the Adriatic and in the Aegean Sea are subject to this con- dition but not the Montenegrin nor Greek.*) The Austrian-Hungarian Government was therefore entirely within its rights in insisting that Article VIl had no application to the event of a conflict with Servia and the eventual ocenpation of Servian territory, For this reason it did not feel itself under any obligation-- to olntaiu the consent of Italy ere procceding with its diplomatic steps in Belgrade, sincedbiese did not even constitute war, though they may have led to it. The contrary interpretation/of this Article was nevertheless insisted upon by Italy, which, a; already made plain, adopted this failure of a previous notification by Austria- Hungary, as well as its own devious reading of the agreement as an excuse for freeing itself from the duty of a military cooperation. On the other hand the Italian government based its principal claims for compensation for the possible occupation of Servian terri- tory by Austria-Hungary, upon the inter- pretation given the article in Vienna. Long negotiations quite friendly in tone, took place between the two cabinets regarding the latter question, and in these the German gove nment participated. There is not need of recalling these pourparlers in detail; it will suffice to say that finally Austria- Hungary, in consideration of the indeed neutral but otherwise quite friendly atttude of Italy, declared itself willing as an evidence of the loyal attitude it wished to show Italy, to accept the latter's interpretation of Article VII. It agreed that in the event of a temporary or definite conquest of territory within a Balkan district, it would enter into conversations with Italy regarding the question of compensation. This decla- ration was delivered in Rome on the 25th of August and accepted with thanks by the Marquis di San Giuliano, who was of the opinion that the discussion of the future compensation was premature at that stage of the war. (Appendices Nos. 6 and 7). This for the time being concluded the discussions between the cabinets of Vienna and Rome regarding the chief issue of their mutual relationship. Tie following months were devoted by Italy to the development and strengthening of its military means and forces. A. the same time Italy proceeded to take measures which had for their goal the acquisition of territorial points of support on the opposite coat of the Adriatic, in Albania. These measures which were tentatively urged at the b ginning, began to accentuate themselves in .direct proportion to the progress made by Italy's military preparations, and in accordance with the convicton that the world war would not result in a swift victory for one group or the other, but in a long and stubborn struggle. Though this st-p of Italy's was in accordance neither with the agreement of *) Article VII of the terms of the Triple Alliance Contract reads as follows in translation: "Austria-Hungary and Italy who desire to maintain as far as possible the territorial status quo in the Orient, hereby pledge themselves to oppose all territorial changes whtch might prove to the disadvantage of one or the other of the powers signatory to the present Agreement. But should it occur in the course of events that the maintainance of the status quo in the Balkan districts or the Ottoman coasts and islands in the Adriatic or Rgaen Sea become impossible, and that, either through the act of a third power or otherwise, Austria-Hungary and Italy should be obliged to alter this status quo by a temporary or per "anent occupation, this occupation would be carried out only after a previous understanding between the two powers. This would be based upon the prin- ciple of mutual compensation for atl territorial or other advantages which either of them might attain after the suspension of the present status quo, and would ne intended to satisfy the interests and the justifiabledemandsofboth parties. 1900-01, nor in harmoniy with the formal declaration made by Italy at the beginning of Augut 1914 at Vienna, no protest was made by Austria-Hungary, especially so since Italy gave notice at Vienna of each "provistonal" measure and cont'nued to declare its adherence to the Treaty of London and the continuance of the Agree- ment of 1901 (Appendices Nos. I and 5). It soon became apparent, however, that the ambitious plans of Italy for the occupation of the "altra spoida" had not been ex- hausterl. A passionate excitement began to seize upon that country. The theory of ab solute neutrality gave way to the new motto of a "armed and watchful" neutrality, and later on to the cynical phrase of "sacro egoismo." Supported by the government in secret and furthered and openly subsidized by the agents of the Entente Powers, this soil of Irredentist, radical and republican shibboleths gave birth to a movement which, quite indiffirent to all pledges of honor and faith, inscribed the names of the Italian districts of the Monarchy upon its banners, and whose adherents in the press, in the street and in public meetings, began to agitate more and more stormily in favor of Italy's participaion in the war on ihe side of the Entente. The fact that the official policy of Italy was governed by the same tendencies became apparent only after the conduct of forei n affairs passed into the hands of Baron Sonnino upon the death of the Marqis di San Giuliano at the beginning of November. This brought about a second phae in the development of evens in Italy. In this the domi ating idea, without a thought a; to the duties of an alliance or any moral considera- tion, was the resolve to make use of that favorable moment in which the two allies were engaged in a mighty struggle with formidable opponents, in order to extort from Austria-Hungary the surrender of those southern provinces in which Italians had settled, or if need be, to seize them by force. The first step in this direction was taken by the Italian cabinet on the llth of De- cember when its Ambassador at Vienna, with various unmistakeable hints ani allusions to the "national aspirations", brought forward the argument that in view of our military operations on Srvian territory, Italy, accord- ding to Article VIl of the terms of the Triple Alliance, was entitled to compensa- tions. Italy still further laid bare her inten- tions-a month later when she made the formal inquiry whether Austria-Hungary would not be willing to concede a portion of its territory as a basis of negotiations for the compensation to be granted under Article VII? Front the mass of arguments furnished by Austria-Hungary in the course of the dis- cussions with Italy it will be necessary to quote only a few. Military operations in alien territory do not constitute even a temporary occupation within the meaning of Article VII, and therefore give the other party no right to any compensation. Inas- much as Servian territory is in fact not oc- cupied by our troops, there can be no basis for the approximation of the compensation, since this depends on the advantages derived by the occupying power. It is also obvious that such compensation is only to be sought there where the advantage has been gained which the compensation is m-ant to balance, that is to say upon the Balkan peninsula When the contract was made there was no thought of giving up other districts towards this end, especially one's own districts. In addition to this Austria-Hungay made public on the 9th of February the counter demands of Italy according to its reading of Article VII, as made clear by the Ita ian oc- cupation of islands in tie Agean Sea and Valona. Italy, on the contrary, held fast to its standpoint and finally after long and fruitless negotiations it declared towards the close of Februaty that a rL-sumpt on of our operations against Servia without a prelimi- nary agreement with regard to the question of compensations would be regarded as a breach of the terms of the treaty and that the most serious consequences would ensue upon this. It also stated that such an agree- ment could be reaced only on the basis of a surrender of Austrian-Hungarian territory. The situation was nov clear. This attitude of the Roman cabint which was accompanied by an incitement of public opinion against the two Central Powers by the gover ment and by the press, and by the most active preparations for mobilizatiou, left no room for doubt that relations with Italy could be maintained only by means of concessions of territory on the part of Austria-Hunga y. It was also apparent that no considerations of conscience nor of honor would prevent Italy from seiz ng a favorable opportunity for making an attack upon the Dual Monarchy in order to realize its national aspirations. However cooly and calmy the people of Austria-Hungary regarded this danger, it was neve'theless necessary that the men in who-e hands the destnies of the monarchy were placed should ask themselves iin full con- sciousness of their responsibilities, whether, all other means having been exhausted, it was not desireable to attempt to maintain or possibly strengthen the political relationship with Italy even at the high price of a cession of territory. Austria Hungary naturally found the ut- most difficulty in reconciling itself to the thought of yielding up without a struggle land which had for centuries been under the s eptre of the house of Habsburg, land which served as a natural rampart to the monarchy, and whose sons even in this war had given so many proofs of their fidelity and self- sacrifice. And this resolve was to be given tne most serious thought since the traditions of the monarchy had nev r vitiated an hoinest promise by any subsequent deception. Never in all its history had Austria-Hungary broken its given word. But this extraordinary situation called for extraordinary resolutions. On the 9th of March therefore, with the approval of his mo- narch and of both governments, Baron Burun was able to communicate to the Italian am- bassador that Austria-Hungary accepted in principle the cession of certain territory as a basis of the negotiations regarding the question of compensation. Though an understanding had thus been achieved in respect to certain major points, great difficulties nevetheless arose duringthe second phase of the negotiations concerning a matter a preliminaries. Before the matter could be ditscussed further the Rima-' Cabinet imposed ine condition that it was to be unlerstood in advance that the cession of territory was to take place immediately after the signing of the 'ocuments -a demand which in itself served to throw a v ry quetionable light upon the sinceri y of Italy's desire to achieve a peaceful solution. Quite apart from the practi al difficulties operating against the precipiate execution of such a deep-goine- measure, it was hardly to he expected that Austra-Hungry in a one-sided interpretation of this contract, shoul I place Italy in actual possession of the territory to be surrendered,--t-rritory of the hignest strateic value.-ere the reciprocal rturn Italy was to make,-the maintenance of neutrality until peace had been re tored,- had indeed become an actuality. There was certaily no reason for our having such overwhe lming confidence in Italian loyally and reliability. It was of course impossible for Austria- Hungary to yild to any such demand. The nati )n was, however, pr pred to offer the most thorough guarantees that the ceding of the land in question would take place with- out delay after peace had been sighed. But inasmuch as the Italian , C binet would not withdraw from this demand, a halt in the negotiations would have been unavoidable, had it not been decided to leave this question open for the present and to proceed with the discusion of the thing itself-the dimensions of the district to be ceded, as well as the other concessions. At the request of Italy, which seemed to have no concrete proposals of its own to make, Austria-Hungary now announced its various offers. This proposal which was handed to the Italian ambassador in Vienna on the 27th of March, comprised in its essen- tials the cession of the entire Italian part of south Tyrol, for which Italy was to promise its benevolent neutrality until peace had been declared and to concede the right of its ally to complete liberty of action in the Balkans for the duration of the war. He who knows the important part played in the national consciousness by the Trentino in the decades that followed upon the estab- lishment of the Italian realm, must acknow- ledge the magnanimous manner in which Austria-Hun-gary was now willing to bring about the fulfillment of this fervent desire of the Italian nation without any petty chaf- fering. This step wouldhavedoneaway withall the difficulties that lay in the way of a thorough understanding. But this hope was in no way to be realized. Though it may have been possible up to this point for us to believe Italy's declaration that it was anxious to establish a new basis for the continuance of the alliance, we were from now on justified in assuming from the inordinate d mands now made by Salandra's cabinet that it did not in the least desire a peaceful solution. We were convinced that in this new stage of development Italian policy was no longer dominated by the ideal of national development in conjunction with the main- tenance of good relations with the two Central Powers, but rather, an expansion of national uni y at the expense of Austria-Hungary, a seizure of the compete supremacy in the Adriatc by cutting off the monarchy from this sea, and a complete and permanent aliance of Italy with the powers of the Enterte, followed by final active participat.on on their side. The 'emands of Italy were indeed outrage- ous. They comprised the cessiont of the entire [alan Tyrol, the purely German district of Bozen, as wcil as the predominantly Slav district of the Upper Isonto valey, in add- tion to GOrz and the coat territory as far as Nabresina, a str p of Karnten, the purely Slav islands of Lissa, Lesma, Curzola and Lagusta and va ous small islands, the esta lbsh-nent of Trieste and its district as an independent state, the recognition of Italian sovereignity over Valoia and its district, as well as rte complete surrender o all Austrian- Hungarian iiterests in Albania, and the imme.riate carrying out of the territorial surrende s. rhe lnes of this program gve one a clear insight into the id as toat lie at the iottoni of it. The lines of demarcation on land are chosen not because of their national colour, but because they serve as tra egic ponts- and points of an aggressive nature. The postu- lates wtln regard to Albania nnd t ie Dal- matian islads prove how completely the Ad ia ic problem had overweighed alt other conside-ations. And the mere fact that Italy had made a number of demands that threat- ened the very fie of the Dual Monarchy, is sufficient proof that tie autnorities in Rome had determined, quite irrespective of a peace- ful or forcible so uion, to ureak with toe Ce Atral Powers and to arraign Italy actively on the side of the Eutente. Tue tnesis of a "irmer bond of all ance by the elimination of the existing points of trctoiu"-even the leaders in Rome must have been clear that this was inconsistent with a policy which, for example, in all earnest went so far as to wish to tear Triest and those issands tht protect the coast of Dalmatia from out tne structure of the Dual Monarchy. Altuough the in at able d-mads of Italy would certainly have brought about a com- plete cessation of the negotiations, a glance Elam a E I a EL ri TRUTH
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