I have seen much poverty and grief. In particular among the lower social stratum, with no money to purchase expensive food, which is difficult to come by. Poor people! And in particular – children.
Franc Rueh

Despite the inevitability of the consequences of war, not everybody suffered the same fate. Those inhabiting the immediate vicinity of the Isonzo Front in 1915 could witness up close the cruel face of war, and experience its wrath themselves. After the retreat of the Austro-Hungarian troops, several towns between Bovec and Tolmin found themselves under Italian administration and were either entirely or partly uninhabited. The situation was similar in the villages remaining under Austrian authority. Territories removed from the front lines were scattered with soldiers and their machines, now designated rear military centres. At every accessible and feasible location along the major roads, military settlements would be constructed including warehouses, residential areas, hospitals, barns, bakeries and other military facilities while different military services also occupied private rooms and homes.

Soon, soldiers were joined by endless refugees, while furthermore, municipal and regional offices and authorities, once operating near the front lines before the beginning of the Isonzo Front, were re-established. The coexistence of soldiers with civilians resulted in trouble and complications, while others took advantage of this situation, making a profit and improving their chances of survival. Women would seek employment with the military as laundresses, cooks and nurses, while men would earn their living in transport, various trades and crafts as well as the sale of wood, animals and other products. The catering and hospitality sectors also flourished in the military rear, and the services provided by them were always popular among the soldiers. Despite certain benefits, life in the immediate vicinity of the battlefield as well as the army was wrought with danger and woe. Namely, the military would confiscate and destroy the most fertile pastures and fields while soldiers caused epidemics of sexual and other diseases, and engaged in stealing, raping and seducing the local girls. Among the civilian population, prostitution, illegal transfer of goods, boorish behaviour and binge drinking was running rampant. All the while, the population was exposed to enemy fire and mortal danger. Regardless of the impossible conditions, the majority would persevere in their homes. They would work the fields, attend church service, go to school, marry, seek the company of others as well as entertainment, attempting to live normal lives at least during the short periods of calm.

Both administrations, that is the Austrian and Italian, governed the occupied territories in similar ways. After occupation, the Italians would, at least formally, preserve every current administration and authority while simultaneously introducing various new posts and offices. At Kobarid, the head offices of the newly-founded Tolmin Political Unit were located. From this location, the Italian authorities controlled the occupied territories from Bovec to Tolmin, which were before the war under the governance of the Austria-Hungarians. Italian also became the official language, further complicating the lives of the local population. Shortly after this, Italian was also introduced in schools with the purpose of generating sympathy among the locals as well as increase its cultural foothold in the region. Refugees from both banks of the Soča, who were not relocated into Italy’s interior, settled in particular at Breginjski kot. This community of shacks and shanties was already overpopulated, particularly by women, children and the elderly. At Kobarid and the surrounding fields, large military settlements were built, housing soldiers who would fight at the nearby battlefield at the Krn mountain range.