Why did Italy switch sides in WW1?

+11 votes
asked May 29, 2019 in Culture & Society by Joshua (870 points)
edited Jun 23, 2019
Before WW1, Italy was part of an alliance with Austria-Hungary and Germany. Yet at the WW1, Italy switched sides and didn’t even join the war with its first alliance at all. Why did Italy betray its allies? Any good reason why Italy would do so and join the Great Britain?

3 Answers

+16 votes
answered Jun 17, 2019 by Brandy (740 points)
edited Jul 29, 2019
Italy was an interesting faction in the first World War. It was the original member of the triple alliance 1882 made up of Austria-Hungary, Germany and, of course, Italy itself. Despite a pact between the three of them, that they will protect each other’s country with supporting military might, they had plenty of internal conflicts. Austria-Hungary was in dispute with Italy over territorial right - an awkward relationship really. The pact even agreed that Italy would not join the fray if any of them was facing the Great Britain. Then in 1902, Italy secured a secret diplomacy deal with France, which ensured Italy would be a peace pact between the two of them as well.

Fast forward to the beginning of World War One in 1914, Germany was going to war against the Russia and France, while Austria-Hungary was fighting against Serbia. Due to the partnership putting Italy in a strange position, with all the diplomatic pacts it was in, Italy decided to stay neutral. Its justification for it was that the triple alliance was meant to be a defensive pact, and Italy was not obliged in assisting its allies in their own war since they were the ones who took the offensive.

Some speculated that Italy was just being a bystander, waiting for an opportunity to gain from the potential victors. On April 26, 1915, the Italians once again in secrecy signed the Treaty of London, this agreement would have Italy leaving the triple alliance for a large section new territory, an offer to good to pass up. On May 3rd, Italy backed out of the triple alliance, and on the 23rd of the same month, it declared war on their historical enemy and past ally of the Austria-Hungary Empire.

So a simple answer to why did Italy switch sides in WW1, Italy was just seizing up the perfect time to take over the reign of their main opponent, probably seeing a better future with its new allies.
+8 votes
answered Jun 3, 2019 by marco (580 points)
edited Jul 12, 2019
I think the best answer to why did Italy switch sides in WW1 is that famous quote of Winston Churchill: A nation has no permanent enemies and no permanent friends, only permanent interests. It’s a universal truth.
+6 votes
answered Jul 27, 2019 by Cinnamon (880 points)
edited Aug 10, 2019
To begin with, Italy was dragged into joining the triple alliance. They weren’t tied to the other two with on loyalty, or common cultural background even, they didn’t even have that good of a relation with Austria-Hungary. Italy was still a new independent country at that time and the best way to survive is to simply sign an agreement for protection with Germany and Austria-Hungary. Germany is Austria-Hungary main ally while Italy is pretty much a third-wheel. France had just made a pact with the Great Britain which greatly strengthened their military prowess. Italy thus joined the triple alliance out of fear as France gain a better maritime position against Italy. Well, later on, Italy did sign a peace pact with France, to not join the war. With more confidence and a relatively healthier army, they took up Great Britain’s offer on WW1 and went on to fight their longtime nemesis.
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