The fate of a refugee is hard. Dependent on mercy and good-will, though luckily compassionate souls still exist.
Refugee from Gorizia

The Great War gravely impacted the Habsburg Monarchy, devastating most terribly the territories in the immediate vicinity of the battlefields. Slovene nationals residing along the Soča would already be faced with immigration during the first days of the war with Italy. When the Italians occupied the towns of Brda, Kambreško and the surroundings of Kobarid and Bovec, the majority of the population were already relocated in a matter of weeks. In the Kobarid region, the majority of refugees settled at Breginjski kot while the inhabitants of the Bovec area and other low-lying towns were relocated first to places immediately behind the Italian border, and afterwards throughout Italy. Even before the arrival of the Italian army, inhabitants of the occupied villages in the Tolmin region sought refuge in settlements along the left Soča bank. Afterwards, the majority were relocated to various refugee camps established by the authorities throughout the monarchy. Fortunate families or those with generous relatives or friends were able to stay in their native land. Many such individuals and families resided in the Cerkno region, Baška grapa valley or the Šentviška Gora Plateau while others moved to Carniola, Styria and Carinthia. That is also where individual families from the Bovec region found their homes, while the majority of inhabitants of that area spent the major part of the war at the Slovenian refugee camp at Bruck an der Leitha.

Refugees were faced with different fates. Best off were those living with compassionate relatives and friends. Initially, when most had thought their banishment was only temporary, the relationships between the hosts and guests remained friendly and tolerable. However, as the Great War carried out and with the onset of general shortages, relations began breaking down. Families staying with individuals were responsible for their own survivals. By not being entitled to refugee financial support, they were being forced by the government to depart for one of the Austrian refugee camps. Somewhat better off were those who remained close to their homes, as they were provided living necessities by their native communities. Food and clothes were obtained from the national stock, while work or opportunities for additional income were more accessible.

Refugees in Italy also often stayed with individuals and were awarded a national grant. Furthermore, they would be offered employment within the industrial sector or with local farmers, while children could attend nearby schools. Where there were greater numbers of Littoral Region natives, actual Slovene communities would develop generally catalysed by the efforts of the clergy. Initially, they were imprisoned by the Italians and separated from other prisoners, then released in order to mingle with their parishioners or with the larger society of refugees. Refugees from the cleared villages of Kobarid were the luckiest as they were relocated to the nearby Breginjski kot. Despite being chased off their homesteads, they were permitted to stay close to their people, and close to home, making exile slightly more tolerable.

A peculiar life-style developed at the refugee camps, springing up in particular along the eastern regions of the Austrian part of the monarchy. These well-organised camps would host refugees of different nationalities. They were under the care of the state, which provided food, clothing, labour, medical care as well as education and church services. However, not all refugee camps were this homely. Despite relatively comfortable living conditions, many refugees wanted to return home, particularly during the last years of the War when the Empire was faced with a general shortage and increasingly severe national discord.