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Year 1915

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Year 1915
The year of blood.

January: Winter battle in the Carpathians.

22 March: The Russians occupy the fortified town of Przemysl; among the 120.000 prisoners there are some Ampezzani. 40.000 Austro-Hungarians die during the siege .

6 February: The Austro-Hungarian offensive begins by the river San; the PASQUA battle.

The soldiers who die in the battle are to be added to those who freeze to death, of hunger, typhus, cholera and diseases caused by lack of hygiene, slime, dirtiness, lice and deafening noises.

The human losses are huge on that very long front: about one death per linear meter on each side! 
More than 40 Tiroleans from Ampezzo fall on that front, included some missing soldiers.

In Ampezzo there is great sorrow and sadness for the victims. Since the best working force is absent, the economy and the people’s morale feel deeply affected too. Both the town council and the citizens subscribe such an amount of war loans which was defined "fabulous".

071 15-01-08 interni museo

Italy's neutrality

After a year of neutrality, the number of Italians who supported a war on the Habsburg Empire’s side was diminishing. Italy took advantage of the situation and began to double cross; on the one side it claimed the assignment of Trento and Trieste from Austria, in return for a possible cobelligerency; on the other it made contact with France and Great Britain in order to obtain 
even more than that in exchange for the opening of a third front.

It was dangerous for Austria to yield to the Italian claims because it would have started a chainreaction in other nationalities of the Empire, thus ? causing its downfall as actually happened in 1918.

The Irredentists from Trento were 5%; those from Ampezzo fewer than those.

In order not to open another front against Italy, Vienna declared for greater concessions up to offering the entire Trentino, excluding the Ladin Valleys and Ampezzo. However the new Allies offered even more to Italy: the entire South Tirol up to Brennero, Istria , Dalmatia, the protectorate over Albania and other minor territories (not theirs); they made also a secret agreement according to which they bound themselves to come into the war on the Entente’s side within one month. The decision was taken without consulting the will of the nation.

In Italy the majority was in favour of peace. The Catholics, many socialists and Giolitti, Prime Minister up until 1914, declared their neutrality. The interventionists against Austria, headed by Cesare Battisti, Gabriele d’Annunzio, Ettore Tolomei and Benito Mussolini, were a minority. 
They were supported by the industry and by the king himself who on 16 May confirmed the interventionist Salandra as Prime Minister. Groups of armed people threatened the members of Parliament and of the Senate who did not want to vote for the war.

How much suffering and how many deaths could be avoided and how many profits lost for the industry.

18 April: Sunday: in Cortina general medical examination for call-up for men aged from 37 to 42.

26 April: Italy, France, Great Britain and Russia sign the Treaty of London thus binding Italy to come into the war on the Entente’s side within a month from then.

2 May: Austro-German victory against the Russians in Gorlice. Poland is given back to the Habsburg Empire.

3 May: Italy advises Vienna and Berlin that it re-treats and abandons the Triple Alliance.

Austria, as the declaration of war was a matter of days, increased the offer of cessions, but to no use. The very long border with Italy was all dismantled and undefended. A restless activity started in order to make up the resistence. It was decided to abandon the Valley of Ampezzo in order to gather the available troops in strategic points where some trenches were quickly prepared. The military Commands, aware of the inadequacy of the defences, resigned to losing South Tirol.

06 30-08-08 figuranti in museo;">

Italy comes into the war

In 1915 when Italy comes into the war, the peaceful Dolomites were upset by the noise of weapons. A continuous movement of men and means of transport upset a community which used to live peaceful and with parsimony.

16 May: in Ampezzo all the men aged between 16 and 50 who had not been enlisted were called to the medical examination for call up, organized in the Standschutzen or in the Landsturm (general call up). They were given the uniform with the Tirolean eagle and they made part of the II Zug (platoon), IV Company of the Enneberg-Marebbe Battalion. Many people left the town.

The front was North of Cortina. 669 men from Ampezzo were called up, more than 35 workers among them, and sent to defend the Austrian border.

19 May: 135 Standshützen with some livestock were sent to Son Pouses; from there the Ampezzani (men from Ampezzo) could see their houses and their relatives. Anguish and suffering were boundless.

20 May: Some Ampezzani, who symphatiz with Italy were imprisoned by the Austrian authority in Katzenau (close to Linz). The wounded from Galicia were taken to other Austrian hospitals.

Cortina becomes empty; the athmosphere is one of fear and hope. The Parish priest, don Antonio Pallua, exhorts the people not to leave.

22 May: the Tirolean soldiers strengthen Son Pouses and other stratetigic points from Col di Lana to Monte Piana.

23 May: Italy declares war on Austria and confirms that the opening of hostilities would be midnight. "The time of vindications has struck....." The King of Italy writes. The Austrian Emperor replies: "A betrayal against two allies about which history does not know the example...."

03 04-10-08 stemma cortina del 1711

Ampezzo is occupied.

24 May: 6:00 pm. The Italians cross the border in Acquabona. Ampezzo has been free for some days, but instead of ordering the officers to proceed, taking advantage of the weakness of the adversary, General Nava asks them to wait..... The Italians do not move. In the first two weeks, taking advantage of their superiority, they could occupy not only Pusteria but also head for Brennero.

27 May: 8 infantrymen of the Brigata Marche come down from Passo Tre Croci-Crojes and go into Cortina; they proceed towards Zuel and do not meet any Austrian soldier.

29 May: Cortina is occupied without striking a blow by the 23rd Regiment of the Brigata Como. 
It is 4:00 pm.

The soldiers were disappointed by the coolness with which they were welcomed; however they could not expect the people from Ampezzo, old men, women and children to feel any sympathy for undesidered armed invaders who were about to fight and maybe to kill their sons, husbands, fathers and brothers from whom they had been separated due to those men.

The first four cannon-shots were heard.

The hotels were requisitioned; almost all the houses had to give hospitality to officers and soldiers. In Ampezzo there were from 20.000 to 30.000 soldiers. On the territory they set encampments, huts, stores, trenches, communication trenches, field hospitals, kitchens, stables, observatories etc.

025 15-01-08 interni museo

Inaction of the first 15 days.

4 June: They begin shooting the whole day from Son Pouses.

Instead of advancing at once, the Italians settled in the village and on the high grounds. Therefore it happened what the Austrians called "a military miracle". The first days were conclusive for the course of the war. Inaction was a fatal mistake on the Italian part and it cost thousands and thousands of casualties. On the other hand it was an unexpected and incredible stroke of luck for the Austrians.

It is to be remembered that Austria had always had defensive intentions on the entire front and it never thought in great advances. On the basis of the defensive concept and due to forces shortage, the Austrians merely blocked the communication lines.

The Austrian defensive line almost did not change until the end of the war, except for withdrawals of slight importance. The Italians never succeeded in break through the enemy’s line. despite the efforts and the apocalyptic mines.

June: Charged of being pro-Austrian, "in Italy many people were interned out of suspicions and accusations.

The operations on the Ampezzo front.

7-16 June: First useless Italian assaults on Son Pòuses and Val Gòtres

10 June: The Standschützen from Ampezzo were transferred from Son Pòuses to Col di Lana.

13-15 June: Unsuccessful attacks on Gòtres and Son Pòuses with many casualties.

15 June: Fights on Fontana Nègra, Col di Bos, Intrà i Sasc, Sas de Strìa; however they were soon stopped due to the high number of casualties and few results.

5-11 July: Various assaults at Intrà i Sas and on Sas de Strìa with no results.

7-11 July: The Forcella (pass) of Col dei Bos and Cima Bos are conquered.

20 July: General Antonio Cantore dies at Fontana Negra

30 July: The Cristallo is occupied by the Italians.

2 August: The Forcella of Fontana Negra is conquered.

8-9 August: other further assaults on Intrà i Sas and Sas de Strìa with no results.

August: the Alpini (Alpine troops) occupy the Cristallo crest. Disastrous assaults in the area of Cima Falzarego, Forcella Travenanzes, Forame, Costabella.

From September to October: Italian assaults on the northern slopes of Cristallo, Costabella, Forame, Rauchkofel.

September: unsuccessful Italian assaults on Castelletto, while they succeed in settling on the Martini ledge of Lagazuoi.

18 September: Italian conquest of the Tofana de Rozes.

18 October: The Italians conquer Cima Falzarego. Once the top of Sas de Stria is occupied, second-lieutenant Mario Fusetti dies and soon afterwards the top is occupied again by the Austrians.

20-26 October: fights on the Cristallo-Forame

24-28 September and 17-31 October: useless assaults on the Castelletto.

24 October: Italian attempt to go over Ruffiedo in order to advance towards Cimabanche-Sorabances.

7 November: the Italians conquer and lose the top of Col di Lana.

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