Un aspecto de un frente poco tratado: los civiles en el italo-austríaco.
The internees were forcibly transferred – sometimes with their children, sometimes by cattle truck – to locations the length and breadth of Italy, where they lived under police surveillance,
subsisting on hand-outs, amid suspicious Italian patriots.
In fact the number of internees was already 5,000 and would rise to 70,000. Internment began as soon as the army marched into eastern Friuli and the Dolomites. As the highest authority in the war zone, the Supreme Command decided who should be interned and on what grounds. There were no fixed criteria for these judgements, and decisions were made by the commanding officer on the spot, or by military police.
The occupation created a golden chance for score-settling. Local nationalists, prone to the intolerance that partners revolutionary idealism, prepared blacklists of their opponents, who were not lacking, for most Habsburg Italians were not nationalist at all. Kinship ties, ethnic origins, hearsay, anonymous letters, the testimony of ‘trusted’ informants, and sheer malice: all these played a part in the drama of internment. Francesco Rossi, a labourer, was arrested and interned after he was overheard saying that Italy was poor and would never be able to help poor people, as Austria had done. A family of seven was deported to southern Italy for giving their youngest child the ‘disrespectful’ name of Germana. The infant’s godfather was interned as well for good measure. Six men from Villa Vicentina were interned for allegedly criticising the Italian army in a bar. Their offence was ‘defeatism’, like Leonardo Mian of Aquileia, interned after insulting army officers when in his cups. Another man was reportedly slow to help an Italian soldier who fell in a river, so he was packed off to Puglia at the far end of Italy. Few internees were given any reason for their treatment. Many files contain no allegations at all. Lack of open enthusiasm for the occupation was enough to prompt misgivings.
Giuseppe Leghissa, a trader, was banished to Tuscany for being ‘notoriously hostile to the cause’.
-Mark Thompson, The White war: Life and death on the Italian Front 1915-1919