Italian Government and High Command 1915–18

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Map Code: Ax00252

Italy’s decision to enter the war on the Allied side was governed by what its prime minister, Antonio Salandra, termed ‘sacred egoism’; essentially the Allies promised a victory bonus of European territory from Austria-Hungary and Germany’s colonies. Most of the council of deputies were opposed to war, and Salandra would have been overthrown without the support of the king, Victor Emmanuel III, who retained significant constitutional powers. Salandra created an effective structure for mobilization: a dedicated Minister for War and Munitions, a mass conscription of 5 million men, and war production councils to facilitate military supply. Unfortunately, the system was riddled with corruption and profiteering, and the Italian army remained ill-equipped and undertrained, and appallingly led by the autocratic and reactionary Marshal Cadorna. After the military disaster of Caporetto in 1917, Cadorna was finally swept aside, and much needed reforms implemented to both the military and their supply chain.

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