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The First Great War, also known as the Great European War, was one of the most destructive wars in world history that ravaged almost every nation in Europe and colonies in Africa and Asia, lasted between 30 May, 1917 and 8 October, 1921. While the war started over the Austria-Hungarian Civil War and the response to the crisis by the other Great Powers, eventually nations that had not came into the war when it broke out would later join. However, it would not be considered a world war, as the independent nations in the Americas and Asia did not join the war, notably the United States, while Japan only fought and captured Asian territories of France and Russia.
The war was fought between two major alliances, the Central Powers and the Allied Powers. The Great Powers were divided between the two alliances, with the United Kingdom, the German Empire, and the Austrian part of the Austria-Hungarian Empire (later the Danube Confederation) on the side of the Central Powers, and France, Russia and Italy on the side of the Allies. While a simple strength calculation would have given the victory to the Central Powers with the strongest land and strongest naval power on the same side (Germany and the UK respectively), It is important to mention that German interests were divided into a three-way war: in the west against France, in the east against Russia, and in the south supporting Austria in its bloody civil war with a renegade Hungary, and later Italy. The United Kingdom would not enter the war until 1919, and only then would the resources and manpower of the largest maritime empire in the world come to the fore, and eventually win the war. Other nations, such as Spain, Portugal, Serbia, Romania, and Bulgaria.
The cost of the war was devastating, in resources, human casualties, and entire philosophies of thought and action. An entire generation of men were dead, wounded, or traumatized by the war, one marked with modern weapons such as the machine gun, airplane, submarine and chemical weapons. The nations of Europe had expended vast amounts of money and material in fighting with each other, crippling even the victors economies into a long stagnation before apparent prosperity would return in the mid 1920s, while the reparations demanded on the losers not only stifled their nations, but led to anger and resentment. The ideas of monarchy, absolutism and imperialism would be forever tarnished; the German Empire had to give in to increasing tides of democracy in the aftermath of the war; the Russian Empire ceased to exist, and would only be reborn as the Union of Russian Socialist Republics in 1925; the Third French Republic would collapse at the end of the war, and a Forth Republic would be established in 1926 after a period of military government; and the Hapsburg Monarchy, in the middle of the Civil War with Hungary, would establish a national federation, the Danube Confederation, to give more power to the many nationalities in the lands that was the Austria-Hungarian Empire.
The sense of optimism, the belief that humanity could only progress, and that European civilization was dominant came crashing down with the battles in the trenches of Europe. Cynicism, pacifism, internationalism and a more radical sense of nationalism emerged from the carnage, and all four competing viewpoints would, unfortunately, led to an even more destructive war.
Throughout the 19th century, since the fall of Napoleon in 1815, European peace had been maintained by the "Concert of Europe," an informal alliance of the major powers to prevent small conflicts from escalating into a general war that would drag in all the major powers. After the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71) and the emergence of the united German Empire as the most power continental nation, the balance had shifted again. Otto von Bismarck, the first chancellor of the German Empire, did his best to maintain a balance of power by keeping France isolated with alliances with Austria-Hungary, Italy and Russia and friendly relations with the United Kingdom. After the ascension of Wilhelm II to the throne in 1888, Bismarck was forced out of office two years later, and Germany adopted a more aggressive foreign policy, cancelling the Reinsurance Treaty with Russia, and solidifying the alliance with Austria-Hungary. France and Russia became allies in 1894, and now the fear of a two front war terrified the German General Staff.
in 1904, France and the UK signed the Entente Cordiale, a series of agreements to resolve colonial disputes. While seen as the start of an alliance, the British refused to be constrained wholeheartedly supporting France unless it was in the interest of European Peace. Russia and the UK signed similar agreements in 1908. This Triple Entente was a rocky relationship from the beginning, and virtually collapsed after the 1916 assassination of the Emir of Afghanistan and the conservative military coup that took place after, thought at the time to have been supported by Russia while the UK was distracted by the Irish Insurrection closer to home. This perceived expansion of Russian power toward the Indian Raj alarmed the British, and led to cool relations from then until the start of the Great War.
In 1915, Germany and the UK signed the North Sea Agreement, resolving many issues including naval and colonial. This was partially due to the increasing costs of the arms race (mentioned below) and the isolation the UK had in Europe. France and Russia reaffirmed their alliance in 1915, with French loans supporting the Russian modernization of infrastructure and the military. In the event of a war, it was unknown which side the UK would support despite the pseudo-alliance with France, leaving uncertainty in the alliance system.
Nationalism and the Balkans
The Balkans was a powder keg of nationalities and religion, formerly lorded over by the "Sick Man of Europe," the Ottoman Empire. The Annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina by Austria-Hungary in 1909 (though they controlled it since 1878) led to a war crisis, but the European powers managed to prevent an outbreak of war. This led to tensions with the Kingdom of Serbia and their ally, Russia. In 1912-13, the First Balkan War saw the Balkan League (Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia and Montenegro), defeat the Ottoman Empire and liberate Albania and expand their territories. A Second Balkan War, with Bulgaria attacking their former allies over Macedonia, as well as attacks by Romania and the defeated Turks, led to a severe defeat of the Bulgarians who had to give up much of the lands they had previously gained. Tensions in the Balkans remained high as the Ottomans grew closer to Germany and Austria-Hungary, and the ascension of Emperor Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary who promoted national rights in the multi-cultural Hapsburg lands led to Balkan states with brethren within the Empire angry that they cannot achieve their "true" size and stature.
A massive increase in military technology took place in the forty plus years from the end of the Franco-Prussian War and the start of the Great War. Maxim guns, named after their British/American inventor, proved superior to the Gatling gun, and European armies were quick to adopt the new technology. New artillery from makers like Krupp in Germany also led to an increase in range and fire power, and a race to develop new field artillery among the Great Powers. The launching of the Dreadnought, a revolutionary new "all-big-gun," turbine driven vessel, by the UK in 1906 led to a new series of battleships that rendered every battleship before it obsolete, and a major naval race between the UK and Germany for the strongest fleet in the world. Nations around the world, including those without major naval traditions, also bought or built their own dreadnoughts, including the United States, France, Japan, Italy, the Ottoman Empire and Russia.
Along with the arms race came reforms of different national militaries: the British discarded their famous red uniforms in favour of khaki in 1902 after the Boer War and in 1916, the French adopted a lighter "bleu-horizon" in comparison to the dark blue coats and bright red pants dating from before the Franco-Prussian War. Russian military modernization was the most remarkable of military reorganization in the pre-war years. After the humiliating defeat in the Russo-Japanese War of 1905, efforts by reformist military officers in Russia, supported with French expertise and loans, allowed the Russian army to expand their army, improve railroads and communication lines, and expand an industrial base to supply the troops. However, reforms of the higher commands and the continuation of Napoleonic era ideas of elan and promotion not on merit by patronage continued to hamper the Russian army into the Great War. Austria-Hungary also focused on military reforms between 1915 and 1916, spurred on by the new Emperor Ferdinand II. New uniforms, a grey similar to the Germans, was introduced, and efforts to standardize weapons that all units would fight with, along with new artillery pieces and even airplanes were purchased and distributed, but the conflict between the two national forces, the Austrian Imperial-Royal Landwehr, and the Royal Hungarian Honvéd, which were each sponsored by their respective halves of the Empire, and not a unified army.
Outbreak of War
The immediate cause of the First Great War was the breakdown in the 1917 negotiations over the Austria-Hungarian Compromise. When first agreed to in 1867, the compromise was supposed to be renewed every ten years, to reflect any shifts in balance between the two major nations in the Hapsburg Empire. Emperor Franz Joseph II was more focused on maintaining domestic peace in the Empire, to present a strong front and allow Austria-Hungary to remain a Great Power in Europe. Tensions continued to simmer, however, between those that supported the Dual Monarchy and nationalists of the many people that lived within the borders of the Empire.
The death of Emperor Franz Joseph in February 1915 catapulted his nephew, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, to the leadership of the Empire. Hungarian leaders were horrified at the newly crowned Emperor Ferdinand II (King Ferdinand IV of Hungary, due to the Dual Monarchical structure) promoting the inclusion of other nationalities into the governing structure of the Empire, especially the Czechs, Poles, Ukrainians, Croatians, Serbs, Slovenians, Romanians and Slovaks, the last five of which were mainly in the Hungarian part of the Empire. Tensions flared as Emperor Ferdinand promoted minority rights, while Hungarian officials, who had pursued "Magyarization" of the many minorities in the Kingdom's borders, saw this as an attack on the rights of Hungary. By the time 1917 came around, and the Emperor now promoting a newly centralized "Imperial" government, to give all minorities an equal right and apply the same laws across the entire Empire. Hungarian leaders, led by Prime Minister István Tisza who supported the Dual Monarchy, passed the Separation Act on 29 May, 1917, giving an ultimatum to Emperor Ferdinand to cease interfering in Hungarian affairs and drop all attempts at centralization and extension of national rights. When the Emperor ordered troops to shut down the Hungarian Parliament the next day, a bloody fight, called the Massacre of Budapest, signaled the point of no return. On 31 May, Emperor Ferdinand declared Hungary to be in a state of insurrection, and Hungary declared independence, and full scale fighting began on 5 June.
The Great Powers
On 28 May, 1917, the Russian Ambassador to Austria-Hungary met with Hungarian leaders and and says that Russia would support Hungary if they were to defend their "conservative values." While the Prime Minister sacks the ambassador for this indiscretion, Russia had always seen Austria-Hungary as their major rival in the affairs of the Balkans, so a weaker and divided Hapsburg empire would be desirable. Therefore Russian support for Hungary increased, including shipping extra weapons and meetings with top military officials in Carpathia. Russian leadership is divided between peace and war, but with the confidence of their military reforms (which were at most two years old), they believed that now was the time to stand up and reclaim Russia's place among the European Powers. Caught up by the enthusiasm of his generals, Czar Nicholas II allowed the the "Hungarian Enterprise" to continue.
On 2 June, Kaiser Wilhelm II, after days of discussion with Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg and top military leaders, decided to publicly support Austria in the fighting that had already broken out. Military assistance to support Austria is planned, while possible war with Russia and France divides the General Staff and the Kaiser on possible actions. British and French leaders, meeting a day later in secret at Calais, are unable to agree on the course of action: Britain is recovering from two years of bloodshed in Ireland and a continuing bombing campaign in Ulster, while France is raring to go against Germany and perhaps force them to back down over a crisis. British Foreign Secretary Edward Grey meets the German Ambassador on 7 June, and, through citing the Entente Cordiale, says they will do their best to convince France not to go to war. When a German offer for demobilization and combined support with France to aid Austria is rejected on 10 June, the German Army wanted to institute the Schefillen Plan for a quick attack on France via Belgium, the Kaiser delays until he receives news of the intentions of Britain and Italy, and finally refuses on 17 June. He does not want to drag in Britain against a possible three front war, as they had announced its neutrality depending on the interference of neutral countries in Western Europe.
The German General Staff is then tasked to detailing new plans, and mobilization of reserves was ordered on 16 June. Russia has sent troops to the common border with Austria-Hungary on "training" missions, but this only increases tensions with Germany and brings protests from Austria. Despite a French ultimatum to Germany to stop mobilization on 17 June and no new plan to replace the Schefillen Plan, German preparations continue, but the indecisive Kaiser is unable to decide whether offensive or defensive operations against France or Russia should be undertaken, or if sole support to Austria should be the main goal. France announces their mobilization on 18 June.
Although Prime Minister Arthur Balfour of the UK is in favor of supporting France, a vote of non-confidence on 19 June defeats his government, and a new election is called. France is stunned at the betrayal, and President Poincare now has the military prepare to go to war alone. The next day, in Warsaw, French and Russian military leaders meet, and Russian generals claim they can assemble a huge army and march on Germany in ten days. Czar Nicholas II, after two weeks of delay and attempts for peace, while also entertaining a division of Austria-Hungary, at last orders Russia to mobilize. A last ditch attempt by Italy to prevent all out war, a conference to be hosted by themselves, is ignored or rejected by the rest of Europe.
On the day that historians would later call "the most important day before the war," 21 June, the French General Staff hastily reorganizes the already mobilized forces to institute Plan XVI, the invasion of Alsace-Lorraine, territory taken by Germany from France in 1871, with a deadline on June 24. At the same time in Berlin, the General Staff is finally given the order to prepare to attack France, but the date given to have enough men ready was 29 June, giving a slight time advantage to France. Border clashes take place between 22-24 June, when France, at last, declares war on Germany, and the invasion of Alsace-Lorraine begins. On 25 June, Russia follows their ally and declares war on Germany, the first Russian forces marching into East Prussia two days later.
The war began along the border of Austria and Hungary, and often times between different regiments of the same division. Out of The Common Army, the military force jointly controlled by both Austria and Hungary, roughly 450,000 men strong in peacetime, just a bit over 200,000 joined the Hungarian Government, with the remainder swearing allegiance to Emperor Ferdinand. Both sides of this civil war, however, also had their own standing army: Austria possessed the Imperial-Royal Landwehr, and Hungary controlled the Royal Hungarian Honvéd, both of which were better trained and equipped than the joint army both had been reluctant to fund, and even the separate national forces were not as well equipped or trained as other Great Powers, although the Military Reforms of 1916 that Austria-Hungary was undertaking closed some of the gap with Russia, the biggest enemy of the Dual Monarchy. Three million men, mainly reserves and conscripts, were called up by both sides of the fight in 1917 with Austria being able to recruit most of the nationalities, while Hungary could only rely on Magyar soldiers to reliably fight. The desertion rate was nearly 10%, also hampering both sides. Most of the fighting was low level skirmishes and only a few major battles as the Austrian dominated General Staff was overwhelmed by the shortage of staff officers while trying to reorganize the new Austrian Army, while Hungary had to establish its own command structure to compete with Austria. Austria was aided by German troops very early in the fight, but their numbers remained low as most German forces had to be diverted to deal with France and Russia. But even so, over 250,000 Austrians were killed, wounded or otherwise incapacitated, with Hungary having over 300,000.
Due to German indecision at the beginning of the war over which enemy - France, Russia or Hungary - was the most important, France was able to execute Plan XVIII, an invasion of Germany through the former provinces of Alsace-Lorraine on June 24, five days before Germany was fully ready for its attack on France. Those few days proved decisive, and French troops were able to defeat many unprepared German units, many that had been sent to the muster points of the discarded Schlieffen Plan and therefore unready to confront the more organized French. However, the machine gun, accurate artillery and the difficulty of moving supplies over broken battlefields meant that the casualties where high, and by the time the French army reached the Rhine River near Strasbourg on 28 June, they had suffered close to 90,000 casualties, while German forces suffered 75,000. Most of the German casualties were in counterattacks hastily launched without support by artillery and cavalry forces. The next few weeks were engagements by the French and Germans to occupy the entire "Left Bank" of the Rhine, but French attacks to the north bog down at the Saar River when forces that had been mistakenly assembled on the Belgian border are sent to the south are able to halt the French army, but this still left the valuable Saarland in complete French control, and some units had crossed the Rhine near Wiesbaden, less than 40 km from Frankfurt, and had held against all counter attacks. The Battle of the Rhine was over, with the French in almost complete control of the region.
This first French attack came as a huge shock to Germany, but it wouldn't be until after the war that it was learned that the Kaiser's indecision in breaking a deadlock between the General Staff, and the revelation that only one plan for war with France had been worked on and refined since 1902 then tossed aside in the final days before war with France revealed how close the entire German military situation in June and July 1917 nearly collapsed. However, tenacious German defences and over stretched French supply lines resulted in the Battle of the Rhine coming to an end by the beginning of August. In October the resupplied French would launch an attack on German forces in front of Wiesbaden and over the Rhine toward Stuttgart, but both quickly bogged down due to the entrenched Germans and lack of artillery support. German counter attacks, however, were unable to dislodge the French from their gains, and by the start of November, the Western front became quiet as Winter set in, and both sides dug into trenches. In the first six months of war, the French suffered 395,000 men killed, wounded and missing, while the Germans suffered 346,000 casualties on this front.
In the East, the Russian Empire moved a lot faster than anyone expected, mobilizing two and a half million men in just a couple of weeks, and two Russian armies are sent into East Prussia, outnumbering the Germans 6 to 1. Despite heavy casualties, Russia won the Battle of Istenburg on 17 July, and march and besiege the city of Koingsberg. German troops, still reorganizing after the confusion of the first few months, manage to assemble an army and prevent the fall of Koingsberg, and push the Russians back from the city and into the Masurian Lakes region, but neither the Germans nor the Russians engaged in more battles in the swampy areas besides a few skirmishes in early August that was notably for hand-to-hand fighting. German forces assembled in Silesia attempted an invasion of Poland, starting August 27, but the hasty, unprepared attacks over muddy ground were blunted by the Russians by September 13, but German superiority in artillery and tactics finally made Russian forces withdraw to a more defensive line south of Lodz. A reinforced attempt by Russian troops to attack near Torun on September 29 was an initial success, but German railways managed to block the Russians at the Battle of Bromburg (Bydgoszcz) on October 11, and began to fall back toward Bromburg and dug in. A final German offensive at Lodz on October 28 started with a large artillery barrage and managed to drive the Russians out of the city, but were forced to withdraw when a fresh army from Siberia finally arrived on November 9, and counter-attacked in the middle of a snow storm. An army of 125,000 Russians were also sent to aid Hungary in their fight against Austria, mostly in the subjugation of the Federal State of Ukraine between August and October. Russia, however, suffered close to 400,000 casualties fighting Germany, while Germany lost only 150,000.
In Africa, most of the war was a series of minor raids by French troops into German Cameroon, while small squadrons of ships engaged each other in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. But none of these battles were more than harassment, and Germany was in a poor shape to reinforce their holdings around the world from French raids. At sea, the German High Seas Fleet simply patrolled the North Sea, while the French Navy was divided between their Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts, and never seemed to have enough for either. The Austrian Imperial Navy was almost fully in support of Kaiser Ferdinand due to his support in expanding the fleet for years even before he became Emperor, but remained in the Adriatic due to a French blockade of the Strait of Ortanto. Maritime trade continued much as it had before the war, though the French navy in the Atlantic had a few minor successes capturing German and Austrian ships, and the Germans managed to sink a few French ships in the Indian and Pacific Ocean.
Germany, France, Austria, Hungary and Russia spent the next few months engaging in small skirmishes and minor battles, but the cold weather, rain and sleet ground most of the war to a halt, and the soldiers began to dig in, forming trenches that allowed some warmth and protection. The lack of artillery on all sides that could break these lines would be the major problem for most of the early war. By the end of December, thousands more soldiers on both sides had been marked up as casualties in small raids, battles, the cold and mud began to take their toll. In the first few months over war, over 1.8 million soldiers had been killed, wounded, or taken prisoner, dwarfing any European conflict since at least the Napoleonic Era, if not the Wars of Religion. However, millions more soldiers were at the front, and popular enthusiasm was, if not as high as when the war started, still high enough in the major countries to give a popular mandate to let the war continue. Press censorship and propaganda was practiced by all the warring nations, and Germany was the first nation to
The winter of 1917-18 was fairly quiet for all sides of the war, with only minor skirmishes and battles due to the exhaustion, confusion and disorganization of all sides. France was the most active power, mobilizing all its strength to resist an expected German offensive into the Rhineland, while also preparing for their own decisive battle to end the war quickly and on their terms. This "Grand Battle" as it was referred to, was for the capture of Frankfurt, a tantalizing 40 km from the current battle lines. The Second Battle of Wiesbaden, launched on 10 March, was to break open the German front on a ten-mile front, capture the town, and march on Frankfurt within a week. However, the trench systems the Germans dug, with barbed wire strung in front and a zigzag pattern to prevent a single artillery blast from wiping out an entire defending area, as well as concrete emplacements and well situated machine guns and artillery spotters, caused grievous casualties to the French, who relied more on the elan of their soldiers and a reliance on offensive warfare. The First Battle of Wiesbaden was a failure to the French, who suffered over 140,000 casualties for only 500 meters of gained ground. The failure of this offensive led to President Poincare sacking Commander-in-Chief Joseph Joffre on May 8, and appointing Adolphe Guillaumat as the new Commander-in-Chief. Guillaumat, having studied the lessons of the first months of the war, proposed that instead of head on attacks by waves of men, that massive artillery barrages of "small bites" of land, then to hold on to them against German counter-attacks, would be the best way to weaken the Germans. With this in mind, the Battle of Cochem was launched on June 17, to capture one of the few areas between the Rhine and Moselle River's that the German's still held. While he was successful in attacking an area of the front that had been up until then quiet, the hilly terrain and tenacious German defence meant that the French lost as many soldiers as the Germans for a few square miles of land, and the Germans still held Cochem.
The Germans planned two offensives for early 1918: a two pronged attack on Warsaw in the east, and an attempt to capture Strasbourg in the west. This was a compromise in the General Staff who were arguing about which front, and therefore which enemy, was more important: France or Russia. Due to the division of available forces, both attacks failed despite early and promising gains. The lack of heavy artillery in the Battle of Strasbourg, started on 2 May, meant that the French, with a less developed trench system than Germany, was still able to hold off the Germans until reinforcements could arrive. In the Battle of the Vistula River, started on 6 June, the vast distances and lack of troops allowed Russia was able to trade space for time, as the Germans quickly overstretched their supply lines and were unprepared for a sudden counterattack led by the daring General Aleksei Brusilov on 27 June defeated the Germans under General von der Marwitz in the Northern attacking force, while the southern wing had to retreat due to their untenable position. For the rest of the year, Germany would only engage in minor battles to try to strengthen their position in the east, and a major reorganization of the General Staff takes place, with the elderly General Paul von Hindenburg placed in charge of the General Staff to oversee and suppress the factionalism that had already nearly torn the Germany military apart, and General Erich Ludendorff was his Chief of Staff. In the west, with French troops on the Rhine, no such luxury of trying to stall the enemy was available to them, and even as General's Hindenburg and Ludendorff tried to form a strategy, local commanders launched a series of attacks that did little but gain a few yards of ground and result in the deaths of thousands of men, but kept the French on their toes trying to reinforce the threatened areas with broken railroads and sabotage by the Germans living in the region. Finally, on October 24, the Third
Russia, after the Battle of the Vistula River, decided to focus on supporting Hungary. If Austria (recently reformed as the Danube Confederation in June) could be knocked from the war quickly, then a third front through Bohemia and Moravia could be opened up to threaten Bavaria or even Berlin, and win the war. This grandiose scheme, created in short notice after the victory in the Battle of the Vistula River, failed for multiple reasons. The battles that Russia developed was to be fought in the Carpathian Mountains, with only a few narrow passes, and into Austrian controlled Galicia was done without the aid of the Hungarians who would need to help them, and the armies chosen for the offensive were woefully unprepared for a long engagement, and there was a general lack of artillery, machine guns and supplies for the Hungarian troops, which Russia could ill afford to spare. The Battles of Tornow and Przemyśl were severe defeats for Russia, and led to the suicide of the general of the Seventh Army, and the loss of 425,000 men, including over 200,000 prisoners. This, on top of the 145,000 lost in the Battle of the Vistula River and the hundreds of thousands killed, wounded or captured since the start of the war, meant that most of the original standing Army was already incapacitated, and Russia, which after a series of amazing victories last year against Germany and Austria, was now suddenly in danger.
After the defeat of the Vistula River and the victory in the Battles of Galicia, it was decided by leaders of the Danube Confederation and Germany to organize a combined military command for all operations against Russia. The new Combined High Command of the East (Kombinierte Oberkommando des Ostens, or KOKDO) is led by German Field Marshall Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck, while Austrian Field Marshall Archduke Friedrich, Duke of Teschen, is appointed the second-in Command. In the West, Hindenburg and Ludendorff were given full reign to deal with the French, but even they thought that Russia was the weakest of the "Great Powers," so were willing to let the KOKDO dictate when attacks on the West should began.
On August 10, the Ottoman Empire joined the war on the side of Germany and Austria, and began an offensive into the Caucasus Mountains against Russia, but the mountains, cold, and Russian resistance makes the offensive slow down to a crawl within two weeks. Spurred on by the entrance of Turkey on the side of the Central Powers, Serbia and Romania both join the war on August 21 on the side of France, Russia and Hungary. In early September, Serbia sent troops into Bosnia, overwhelming the weakened Danubian troops in the area, while Romania sent troops into Hungary to aid in the attacks in Galacia and Bohemia. However, both the Serbian and Romanian troops were ill-equipped for modern warfare, with little artillery and machine guns.
At the end of September, as battles on the Rhine and the Carpathians began to wind down, Italy declared war on the Danube Confederation, launching attacks on Trentino and Trieste. Danubian troops are forced back, but manage to inflict huge losses on the Italians as they advanced. Pro-French Prime Minister of Italy, Antonio Salandra, had maneuvered around Parliament to get his declaration of war, and it was only the early victories (and the censorship of the losses) that prevented him from being sacked from office.