THE WAR DRAWS TO AN END

The station is a battlefield: soldiers returning home, shooting at each other, wild with pride. What else – they were raised to kill! Wretched humanity.
Andrej Čebokli, poet and writer from Kred

It was generally wrongly believed that the War would be short and swift. During the four years of military terror, suffering, atrocities and shortages, the zeal for the Emperor Kaiser and the Monarchy dwindled. Belief in God was contested, and inter-human relationships were broken. Insurmountable physical and mental fatigue was spread among the soldiers, and it was only the military discipline that forced them to persevere with their assigned duties. The mighty self-infatuated multi-national monarchy was dissolved. Emperor Karl I, the successor of Franz Joseph I, again convened in May 1917 with the objective to save what could be saved of the disbanded parliament, and brought back to life the suppressed partisan politics. Subsequently, this gave rise to numerous political and economic issues, as well as stifled and persecuted national demands.

The masses turned to advocate and demand the sovereignty of individual peoples inhabiting the Monarchy, and ever louder and more defined were the pleas to end the senseless and miserable war. War was becoming increasingly destructive. The economy was in ruins, the once public order was impossible to maintain. Furthermore, people were starving, listless and disheartened. Only in rare cases did families suffer no losses of family members because of the war. All traces were lost of many, or they were imprisoned by Russians or Italians. What is more, boys and men would return from the battlefields stricken with severe mental and physical distress. They attempted to become involved in society again. However, despite the numerous public pleas for assistance and help, their appeals were met with disdain. In spite of partaking in various trainings, they were often not awarded the jobs promised; people would gawk at them, or avoid and pity them. As a result, many fled public life and, from the fringes of society, instead they battled personal distress and put in every effort necessary to survive.

At the end of October 1918, the Austrian Armada also acknowledged defeat at the Italian front. The last months of war at the Italian front was characterised by pillaging and looting, torching and other reckless behaviour, bringing boys and men in line with the conduct of the even more cruel German allies. The lack of discipline and the inhuman conditions during the last weeks of fighting brought about mass surrenders both of soldiers and arms. Hungry, tattered and rowdy soldiers in large groups would flock towards home day after day, and along the way they would terrorise, plunder and endanger every person whom they previously fought on behalf of.

They were followed closely by the victorious Italian Army. Faced with no resistance, the Italian Army occupied the entire Littoral Region as agreed with the Treaty of London, subjugating places primarily inhabited by Slovenes. Refugees and soldiers from the Littoral Region returning to their ransacked homes in ruin were faced with another huge disappointment – their former enemy had become their sovereign.