Sacro Egoismo or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Neutrality

Ok, Italy is now neutral and the rest of the continent occupied in the great massacre...so what's her option

- Libya pacification, still a lot to do but with no troops engaged on the Isonzo front, there is a lot more available to quell any rebellion; possible incident with the Anglo-Egyptian as the Senussi live and fight in a territory claimed by both but not really fully occupied by neither. On the plus side i doubt that Germany will give an OK to the Ottoman to supply the arab and the Senussi rebels so to keep Italy happy.
- Supply Germany and Austria trying to poke hole in the blockade, doable but hard to do while Italy as a great power will have more leeway than nation like Netherlands, it will still be limited even because nobody really want to make the British think that after all a Dow is the lesser evil. On the other side, now a lot of italian workers can go to again in France and at least the British don't need to finance the italian war effort.
- Abyssinia in 1916 had a little civil war when the inept emperor of the time decided to convert to Islam (plus the CP try to incite him to start causing trouble in the horn of Africa)...it can become an occasion for the italian diplomacy.
- The first (and following) national loan were a very epic effort to obtain money quickly and in quantity to resupply and modernize the armed forces, for the first time women can buy them even without the permission of the husband and a big propaganda work was done. Well the nation still need money, but at least this time they can be also used to modernize the infrastructure...but also the army as it seem that the situation with Greece will become very 'complicated'
- France will need to still guard the italian border, not much necessary due to the terrain still everything there is not used in the north...same for A-H.
- Speaking of A-H they will not really like an italian control of Albania and i expect that they will start quietly supporting anti-italian rebels.
 
Looks like Mussolini won't have the lucky breaks he got in OTL. Good for Italy but bad for the other nations that decide to use his ideology.

With Italy being neutral this means that the kingdom has a lot more money and men available for actions in Africa. "Goodish" for Italy but certainly not for the Africans. Maybe Italy will have the means to launch a second invasion of Ethiopia many years earlier compared to OTL.
 

Driftless

Donor
Nice TL! My knowledge of Italian history is limited, so I'm enjoying both the timeline and the counterpoint discussions.

By-the-way, I love the idea of Richard M. Nixon as historian. The OTL Nixon would have made an excellent historian
 
By-the-way, I love the idea of Richard M. Nixon as historian. The OTL Nixon would have made an excellent historian
Thank you. To be fair i decided to make Nixon an historian in this TL mostly because i dislike how in most timelines he ends up being either president or vicepresident no matter the POD


France will need to still guard the italian border, not much necessary due to the terrain still everything there is not used in the north...same for A-H.
Correct. Right now both nations are keeping garrisons alongside their border with Italy (obviously in the case of Austria the number is lower than OTL).
Since the invasion of Albania, Greece and Serbia have also increased the number of soldiers alongside their border with the new italian client state ( Serbia in particular has now the problem of defending itself from the CP in the north while also protecting their southern borders from Bulgaria and Italy).




On the plus side i doubt that Germany will give an OK to the Ottoman to supply the arab and the Senussi rebels so to keep Italy happy.
This unfortunately can't happen. While Berlin wants to keep Italy neutral, the chance of hurting the british war effort in North Africa and causing chaos in the french colonies is too important to simply ignore.
Obviously the Ottomans will be more careful than OTL in arming their allies in North Africa
 
I would say that the biggest impact on italian neutrality, apart from the lack of an Izonzo front (this almost certainly weakens the Brusilov offenzive) is the added import of food. Italy and Romania were major exporters of grain, and the central powers fell apart largely because of food shortages. TTL Italy and Romania will presumably continue to trade with the Germans, which will substantially weaken the food shortages. This in turn dramatically increases civilian morale, and probably is enough to have knock on effects on eg Brest Litovsk, as the CPs won't be desperate for Ukrainian grain. Austria may be independent enough to assert a greater share in Russian territoires- Germany initially promised Poland to Austria, something they eventually reneged on after the Austrians fell apart. Presumably that is averted. Austria also discussed splitting galicia into ruthenian and polish kingdoms, both expanded by Russian territory.
All in all the Austrians probably pull through. I can see an opportunistic Italian DOW against France after Russia collapses.
 
I would say that the biggest impact on italian neutrality, apart from the lack of an Izonzo front (this almost certainly weakens the Brusilov offenzive) is the added import of food. Italy and Romania were major exporters of grain, and the central powers fell apart largely because of food shortages. TTL Italy and Romania will presumably continue to trade with the Germans, which will substantially weaken the food shortages. This in turn dramatically increases civilian morale, and probably is enough to have knock on effects on eg Brest Litovsk, as the CPs won't be desperate for Ukrainian grain. Austria may be independent enough to assert a greater share in Russian territoires- Germany initially promised Poland to Austria, something they eventually reneged on after the Austrians fell apart. Presumably that is averted. Austria also discussed splitting galicia into ruthenian and polish kingdoms, both expanded by Russian territory.
All in all the Austrians probably pull through. I can see an opportunistic Italian DOW against France after Russia collapses.

No, italy imported a lot of grain, usually from Russia and Romania but the close of the straits and the war forced the import from the Americas and this mean higher price for the grain and higher price for the transport and there were not enough ships in the merchant marine so it needed to rent other transport increasing further the price.
ITTL respect to OTL there is no mass mobilization and so the general internal production of grain will remain stable and maybe with neutrality being mantained some attempt to increase the production will be done both in term of mechanization but also somekind of land reform plus an increase of land reclamation. Same can happen with the transport, no need to divert ships to transport supply for the army and this mean more italian ships available for the grain transport (but also for the rest of the Entente). Coal will remain a problem, but OTL showed an increased internal production and less import and ITTL such change can be diverted towards something different than weapon production.

Interesting will be the relations between Italy and the other two neutral nations near to her, Switzrland and Spain, the first will not need to also guard the italian border (so less pressure in the military sense) and frankly they can use italian port as a way to import thing as they continue to remain neutral; the second, well the King of Spain was big in attempt to create some League/Coalition of Neutrals in this period and Italy partecipating will be a big diplomatic coup as it's the only big european power not involved in the war
 
I am sorry to inform the few readers left that i have to definitively stop the writing of this timeline.

Besides the fact i am not satisfied with my writing and some of my choices, there is also the problem that the "Place in the sun" TL is already using some of the ideas i wanted to use for the future of this work.

I may however reboot it in the future, after completing my next work.

I apologise to all of those who were still interested in this timeline
 
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I know it has been more than a year since my last entry, but would you people still be interested in this TL if i restarted it? I considered rebooting it but there isn't much i would change
 
The war comes knocking
In some ways it is incredible that Serbia was able to resist the Austrian assault for almost a year, even considering the disorganization of the Austrian troops and the lack of preparation of the Viennese generals.

Unlike the other members of the Triple Entente, the country was completely isolated and unable to receive support from its allies either by sea or by land. Although neither the Austrian nor the Ottoman fleet were on the same level as the Royal Navy or the French fleet, their ships nevertheless performed their duty by besieging the coast of Montenegro, the only access to the sea that Serbia could use, making the arrival of supplies or other troops nearly impossible. [1]

By land the situation was similar as Greece had decided to place a stong series of limitatitions on the quantity of military equipment that could pass on its territory, Bulgaria had simply laughed at the demands of France and England, and the Ottoman fleet played a similar role to their Austrian allies in the Aegan Sea ( although taking due care not to accidentally hit Greek ships)

However, the fatal mistake committed by the Serbian High Command was the positioning of many of their troops along the border with Albania. Unlike their concerns about a possible attack by Bulgaria, the fear that Italy could have used its zone of Albania to invade the southern areas of the country occupied by Belgrade was completely unfounded and it has been speculated that it was the result of a disinformation campaign started by Austrian spies.

The events that transpired between March and April 1915 are therefore not surprising, given the actions of the Austrian government. Emperor Franz Joseph had developed a genuine obsession with seeing Serbia completely eradicated and punished for killing a member of the imperial family. In his eyes the fact that the murder of his heir had been possible in the first place and above all the numerous military defeats on all fronts rapresented only the latest of the many humiliations that Vienna had suffered since his accession to the throne. The fact that his government was becoming increasingly dependent on the aid from Germany , a country that had humiliated Austria in 1866, and that Vienna had been forced to cede part of its territory to Italy just to assure Rome's neutrality probably didn't help. In his eyes the end of the Serbian threat was the only the way his reign wouldn’t have been remembered as the start of the decline of Austria-Hungary.

Much to the frustration of the German government and the Austrian generals who considered the Eastern front more urgent, the Austrian army began concentrating its troops along the Serbian border, removing numerous troops from Tyrol and Istria

Ironically, the Entente's numerous successes against the Ottoman Empire resulted in the defeat of the Serbian state: the failures of the Istanbul government in Sarikamish and Suez were in fact used by the Austrian government to convince Berlin that only the fall of Serbia could have saved their common Turkish ally as it would have forced the Russian army to direct troops from the Caucasus front to the Eastern front and above all it would have persuaded Bulgaria to side with the Central Powers, thus allowing the domination of the Balkans and creating a way to connect the three main members of the alliance. [2]

The attack began on 7 April 1915 when the Austrian army, supported by selected parts of the German army and artillery strikes, crossed the Drina and Sava rivers.

Serbian courage should not be underestimated, but courage is not enough against an enemy whose troops are more numerous and better armed than you.

It took the Central Powers forces a week to reach Belgrade and put it under siege.

On April 13, 1915 Bulgaria announced its alliance to the Central Powers and began its invasion of the southern part of Serbia.

-Except from An history of European warfare: from the Hundred Years' War to The Great War, Roland Monsier


bulgaria serbia.jpg

A satirical French cartoon depicting Bulgaria's sudden declaration of war against Serbia
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The announcement of the Bulgarian invasion threw the Serbian government into panic. By April 16, 1915 it was clear to anyone both outside and inside Serbia that the country was going to fall: Belgrade was under siege, the Bulgarian army was rapidly destroying the few troops defending the south and it was increasingly clear that no help was coming from Petrograd, Paris or London.

Between accepting the humiliation of surrendering to the enemy troops or futilely fighting to the inevitable end, the Serbian government chose the third option of running away.

The so-called "Great Retreat" officially began on April 17, 1915. Putting together the largest number of still free soldiers and members of his government, King Peter I ordered a general retreat to Albania [3] where he hoped that the neutral Italy would have offered refuge for the displaced Serbs and allowed Entente ships to take away members of the Serbian armed forces where they could have continued their fight against the forces of the Central Powers

The first problem the Serbs encountered was at the hands of the Albanians themselves. The Italian army had almost total control of the Albanian coast but the hinterland was still in complete chaos and bands of brigands and small villages were the closest thing to a central government in the area. The only thing these groups had in common was a complete hatred of the Serbs, due to the actions of the Serbian army during the First Balkan War.[4]

Under normal circumstances the Serbian army could have easily handled these attacks, ensuring the safety of its soldiers and the civilians who followed them, but in April 1915, circumstances were anything but normal. Already exhausted by their hasty flight from Serbia, deprived of any kind of help and above all forced to pass through an harsh terrain, the soldiers often found themselves unable to defend themselves from Albanian attacks. The separation between soldiers and civilians disappeared on both sides as the Albanians saw any Serb as an enemy (incidentally only captured Austrian and German POWs taken along by the retreating Serbian army were generally spared and in some cases helped to escape as they were seen as potential allies against the Serbs) while the Serbian army responded by killing random Albanian civilians , whose fault was being nearby when an attack happened or one or more Serbian soldiers mysteriously disappeared among the forests and mountains of Albania.

Out of the 400,000 people who set out on the journey, only 130,000 soldiers and 68,000 civilians reached the Adriatic coast [5]. Those who survived were so weak that thousands of them died from sheer exhaustion in the weeks after their arrival, with Italian authorities in the area being forced to bury them at sea.

This was the point where the Great Retreat turned into the Great Standstill.

-Except from Blood and Soil: the tragedy of the Balkans during the Great War, Richard M. Nixon


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The arrival in the part of Albania under Italian control didn’t represent an improvement for the Serbs. The Italian forces were willing to assist the Serbian refugees but their transport out of Albania was a different story.

Prime Minister Orlando was in fact terrified that the arrival of Serbian soldiers could have compromised Italian neutrality, providing the Central Powers or the Entente with the pretext to declare war on his country. If he had let the Serbian soldiers leave the country, Austria could have seen the move as indirect support for the Entente and repudiate the Trento Agreement or worse declare war, while imprisoning the soldiers would have inevitably led to a negative reaction from the Entente.

The arrival of the Serbs was also jeopardizing the Italian invasion of Albania as the arrival of tens of thousands of refugees had forced the Italian army to stop operations towards the Albanian hinterland to take care of them. Unfortunately it had also caused the violent reaction of the Albanians present in the Italian territory who were at best totally apathetic to the suffering of the Serbs and saw the fact that the Italians were protecting them as a betrayal of their trust.

The solution adopted by the Italian government worked in the sense that it infuriated the governments of the Entente and the Central Powers in the same way as neither alliance was allowed to come and get its soldiers.

Citing the fact that the Italian mission in Albania was aimed at restoring peace to the country, Prime Minister Orlando established that the arrival of foreign troops or fleets in the country (besides obviously the ones belonging to the kingdom of Italy) would have inevitably compromised the mission and that for this reason only members of the Italian armed forces could have keep operating in Albania. In any case, the Italian state guaranteed the safety of the Serbian soldiers and civilians and of the prisoners who were with them.

To their dismay, the Serbian soldiers were forced to hand over their weapons and their prisoners to the Italian soldiers once they arrived in the areas controlled by Rome to "keep the peace and avoid further bloodshed" and found themselves locked up in various camps built by the Italian forces outside the main costal Albanian cities. Even king Peter I found himself virtually prisoner and under heavy Italian protection in the castle of Durres ( “If His Majesty wants to personally meet an angry mob of Albanians , He is free to leave these walls at any time” was the response of one of the italian commanders in front of the king’s protests).

While in many cases Serbian civilians grudgingly accepted this solution, there was more than one case of resistance and violence on the part of Serbian soldiers who feared that the Italians were planning to hand them over to the Central Powers or simply did not want to remain unarmed in the midst of a clearly hostile population .

Given the situation, Cadorna decided that the best solution was to impose martial law and curfew in the Albanian cities and to increase the number of soldiers around the refugee camps to ensure their safety.

Despite all the efforts of Rome, the Great War had reached Italy.

-Except from A nation without friends: Italy in the first half of the 20th century, Valerio Massimo Manfredi .

Serbian_refugees_waiting_for_food,_WWI.jpg

Serbian refugees waiting for food in the city of Tirana (date unknown but likely around September 1916)

NOTES

[1] They actually tried something similar in OTL. ITTL the Austrian fleet is more succesfull thanks to Italy staying neutral.
[2] OTL the Germans started proposing the same strategy in the same time period, but Austria was too busy with Italy to immediately assemble the necessary forces.
[3] No retreat through Montenegro ITTL as its coast is under costant attack by the Austrians and the collapse of the Serbian army in the area was quicker compared to OTL
[4] "Houses and whole villages reduced to ashes, unarmed and innocent populations massacred en masse, incredible acts of violence, pillage and brutality of every kind – such were the means which were employed and are still being employed by the Serbo-Montenegrin soldiery, with a view to the entire transformation of the ethnic character of regions inhabited exclusively by Albanians"— Report of the International Commission on the Balkan Wars
[5] OTL the numbers were actually worse with around 18000 more victims. ITTL the Great Retreat doesn't happen in the middle of Winter and enemy soldiers can't follow the Serbians in a territory held by a neutral power.
 
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