What Really Happened at Paris: The Story of the Peace Conference, 1918-1919

By Charles Seymour; Edward Mandell House | Go to book overview

VI
FIUME AND THE ADRIATIC PROBLEM

BY DOUGLAS WILSON JOHNSON

The story of Fiume is closely linked with the whole problem of Italy's new frontiers. Both in the Trentino on the north and in the region of the Isonzo on the east Italy suffered before the war from frontiers which were geographically unsound, and which invited invasion by a dangerous neighbor. The boundary ran either close to the southern margin of the Alps, or actually down on the piedmont plain south of them, leaving almost the whole of the formidable mountain mass in Austria as a well-nigh impregnable defense against Italy, while Italy remained virtually defenseless against possible Austrian aggression.

It is difficult for Americans to conceive what this meant to the Italian people, for we live secure with defenseless frontiers separating us from weaker neighbors on the north and south. Yet if we are to appreciate the Italian point of view, we must try to put ourselves in the position of a people who find the gateways into their country held by an hereditary enemy, who have often suffered from invasions through those gateways in the past, and who know that they are held by the enemy for the deliberate purpose of making any possible future invasion easy. Add to this the further fact that Austria's strategic designs against Italy involved the enslavement of hundreds of thousands of Italians, both in the north

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