Good Americans: Italian and Jewish Immigrants during the First World War

By Christopher M. Sterba | Go to book overview
Save to active project

6
“More than Ever, We Feel Proud
to Be Italians”

The event that proved most decisive in pulling the New Haven colonia into the war effort took place three thousand miles away, near the small town of Caporetto. There, in the early hours of October 24, 1917, a combined Austrian and German force smashed the Italian Army's lines. By midafternoon Italy had lost all of the ground it had gained in the previous twoand-a-half years of fighting, and by nightfall the front had collapsed seventeen miles in what had been one of the most immobile theaters of the war. The Italians did not halt the enemy advance until November 10. By that time their losses were staggering. Forty thousand men were killed or wounded; roughly 300,000 were taken prisoner and nearly as many stragglers deserted their units and fled to safety. 1

Caporetto was also a catastrophe for the civilian population. Close to half a million refugees were caught in the crossfire. Inevitably their escape clogged the roads the army needed for its retreat, producing a human quagmire of soldiers who had thrown down their weapons and peasants who had gathered whatever belongings and livestock they could save. Venice, only fifteen miles from the Austro-German advance, evacuated in desperation. The city's population of 160,000 fell to 20,000 almost overnight.

Except for a brief period in the spring of 1916, Italy had always been on the offensive and fighting on enemy soil. Thus the disaster at Caporetto left New Haven's Italians stunned. A clergyman encountered a group of immigrants weeping openly in the street over the news that their native village had been captured. “This brings the dark side of the war close to us,” he commented. A reporter covering the reaction in Wooster Square agreed: “Interest in the war is at fever intensity…The great reverses reported in the press are the topic of conversation wherever Italians meet.” 2

The immigrant population manifested this “fever intensity” in either the most personalized or the most patriotic terms. Consul Nicola Mariani, the Italian government's spokesman in the area, flatly denied all reports of cow

-133-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Good Americans: Italian and Jewish Immigrants during the First World War
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 271

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?