Uniform on: Italian, Austrian, Russian, Hungarian, Bosnian, German. Inside, always a man.
A front of peasant soldiers turned fighting climbers: in their hearts, only the painful awareness of the terrible price paid by everyone to defend their own land or for having been needlessly sent to conquer someone else’s.
One hundred years separate us from the event that changed the history of Europe and caused an irreparable fracture between the ancient world and the world of today; a foolishness destined to contaminate peoples, taking them later on to a second world war.
The Great War - La Gran Vera - the Ladin community lived it all, it was the point of no return regarding a millenarian past that linked it to the Mittle-European world.
The Trench: an endless gut of suffering in which young Ladin, Trentino and German men had to live side by side, fighting in Galicia against the Russians and on the Dolomites against the Italians.
On the other hand, the terrible experience of Italian soldiers sent into the fray to this absurd front, in an attempt to conquer peak after peak, all the way to Vienna.
The uniforms and relics of the Caimi-Federspiel collection are preserved at the Museo Ladino di Fassa, together with others from private collections, making up an extraordinary collection unique evidence of the terrible tragedy that took place on the mountains of Fassa and Fiemme.
“War against War”, a special section on the horrors of war as it is in the very hard original images collected by Ernst Friedrich. This war, the mother of all modern wars, must remain etched in our memories. A dreadful world from which we should learn the inestimable value of peace.
We have a dream: that this exhibition may turn into a stable exhibition to make sure that the people of our land and visitors from all over the world can find a place where they get to know and ponder on what has happened, so as not to lose the roots of their own history, to use the past to understand which future they want to build for their own lives. A future of peace. We hope that in a hundred years everything that is documented here can still be available to everyone, to remember.
Michele Simonetti “Federspiel”
Following the delayed delivery of 75 mm Krupp quick-shot cannons Mod. 1906, already used in the Libyan war, a new model was experimented, Déport Model 1911, whose production was entrusted to a consortium of manufacturers headed by Vickers Terni and Società Acciaierie di Terni. In May 1915, the Royal Army had 125 batteries armed with this piece, for a total of 500 fire mouths available to the artillery regiments of the infantry and Army Corps divisions.
Given the emergency situation, in 1915 about thirty batteries were assigned to anti-aircraft territorial defence: due to its characteristics of trajectory, sector and frequency of shooting, the piece was sufficiently adequate for the context, thanks to the study of a particular installation that made it possible to raise the chase up to 75-80 degrees.
In 1918 the 75/27 Model 1911 was the most frequently used cannon in anti-aircraft function, arming up to 43 batteries.
Country of origin: Italy
Serial number: 3139 10790
Dimensions: 4200 x 1600 x 1600 mm
Weight: 1075 kg approximately
Calibre: 75 mm
Muzzle length: 2,130 mm
Maximum range: 10.2 km
Ammunition: Grenade loaded with TNT or Schneiderite; shrapnel loaded with 360 (9 g) or 260 balls (12 g); grenade with Schneider percussion fuse (manufactured in France); disruptive grenade for anti-aircraft shooting; chemical grenades with 400 g of tear gas, asphyxiating gas, or smoke-producing mixture.
Property of Civiche Raccolte Storiche (Civil Historical Collections) of the Commune of Milan, lent to the Italian Historical War Museum of Rovereto.
The Sarajevo assassination that took place in June 1914 and the diplomatic events in the month after were the practical and concrete cause that led the world war to break. At 12:00 of 28 July 1914, Austria officially declared war against Serbia, and from there the deranged mechanism of alliances kick-started the war that forever changed the world.
The main reasons why the war happened were numerous, mostly related to the wish of some countries to extend their own dominion over increasingly large territories. Germany and France fought over rich border territories of Alsace and Lorraine, while the very long tug-of-war between Austria and Russia focused on the domination of the Balkans. On the other hand, England was working hard to protect and increase its own colonial domains in order to maintain its position among the greatest Western powers.
Imperialism, ethnic and nationalistic tensions, industrial and economic interests, and a political class that was only concerned about increasing its own prestige and hegemony transformed the wonderful growth of Belle Époque Europe into a very efficient industrial machine dedicated to the creation of instruments of death. In a very short time, all populations involved found themselves in the battlefield, obeying the orders of a handful of sovereigns and politicians.
The volunteers, excited supporters who ran to the battlefields, were not at all a reflection of the profoundly pacific spirit of millions of men who were turned into soldiers and thrown into the foolish fray of a modern war without even understanding why they were supposed to hate and kill unknown enemies.
The political parties that had the nerve to protest against the war were never heard - on the contrary, they were shut down by the supremacy of military castes. No one managed to oppose to the situation without suffering heavy consequences. No one managed to refuse to fight.
It was only the 1917 Soviet revolution that triggered the first alarm to all governments. The fight had to be stopped somehow. People could no longer stand such a scourge.
The Fassa Valley was, for centuries, under the rule of the Prince-Bishop of Bressanone, until 1803, when Napoleon Bonaparte suppressed prince-bishoprics.
With the victory of Austria over France in 1813, all Ladin peoples were once again part of Austria, including all of Tyrol and Trentino. The Fassa Valley was added to the Trento administrative circle in 1817, and to the city’s diocese the following year. When the war broke out, in 1914, Moena and the Fassa Valley were still part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire’s territories, and when Austria declared war against Serbia on 28 July 1914 and against Russia on 6 August, all able Ladins from 18 to 40 years of age were enrolled and sent to fight on the Eastern front.
In this image the new emperor Charles I of Austria is in Moena, where he was entertained by the locals and talked to civilians. The prestige and glamour of the imperial house, deeply entrenched in the Tyrol populations, can be seen in the simplicity of this image.
In the first days of November 1918, silence and peace once more dawned upon Europe and the world. Americans, French, English, Italians and all their allies had managed to defeat Austrians and Germans.
The Treaty of Versailles officially brought World War I to an end. It was stipulated during the Paris Peace Conference in 1919-1920 and was signed by 44 States on 28 June 1919, in Versailles. It established the creation of the League of Nations, one of the Fourteen Points demanded by American president Thomas Woodrow Wilson. The League of Nations was conceived as an intergovernmental organisation whose purpose was to arbitrate conflicts between nations before they escalated into war, but the United States never actually got to sign the agreement.
The Treaty of Versailles abolished conscription for Germany and also imposed heavy limitations to German armed forces, which were not allowed to exceed 100,000 units. It also established compensation to be paid by Germany: in 1921, this amount was officially established as 132 billion marks. The economic problems that these payments caused are often cited as the main cause of the end of the Weimar Republic and the ascent of Adolf Hitler, inevitably leading to the breaking out of World War II.
The Kingdom of Italy and the Austrian-Hungarian Empire ratified the following conditions: the parts of Tyrol that included Cortina d’Ampezzo and what are now that Autonomous Provinces of Bolzano and of Trento, the former county of Gorizia and Gradisca, the city of Trieste and Istria were annexed as parts of the Kingdom of Italy.
At the end of the war, as was to be expected, all Allies used the word “victory” to sanction their own supremacy.
However, as in any war, there were no actual winners or losers. Europe was never the same and from then on, most sovereigns saw a quick decline of their power and splendour. Not only that. The peace that had been decided around a table did not correspond, in many cases, to the people’s right of self-determination, which led to a quick growth of new outbreaks of hate and aggressiveness. Europe, now a pile of rubble, was home to millions of ruined families, mentally ill inhabitants and disabled people who crowded cities and villages in an impressive fashion, not to mention those who died of disease and hardships, never counted after the war.
Voluntary partnership founded more than 20 years ago, working for the maintenance, the conservative restoration, the safekeeping and the exhibition of Great War artefacts present in the territory of the Commune of Moena and those nearby. In addition to restoring trenches, galleries and stations, the association maintains the paths and entrenchment roads towards the front area, promoting their use. The association has created seven trekking itineraries with different levels of difficulty: from the entrenched field in the Fango/Fanch location, accessible to everyone, to the High Ways of Creste di Costabella or Monzoni, which require at least rudimentary equipment and climbing technique.
The artefacts, found during restoration works and other interventions, were made available to the public in the museum exhibition of Someda (a neighbourhood of Moena) and partly published in the book “Frammenti di storia: la Grande Guerra fra Moena, Falcade e Passo San Pellegrino” (Fragments of history: the Great War in Moena, Falcade and San Pellegrino Pass).
The work of the Association is done by volunteers with the goal of remembering the atrocities and the suffering endured by the soldiers who fought in the Great War on our mountains and in other fronts.
A great effort that is also an invitation to look at the future with hopeful eyes so none of this ever happens again.
Itineraries in the Great War places
Curated by “Sul fronte dei ricordi” association
Further information on the website www.frontedeiricordi.it
or by contacting the president, Livio Defrancesco (mobile: +39 334 822-2082)
Born in 1962 in Milan, where he still lives, he has a degree in Political Science and is a journalist, publicist and official technical consultant of the Court of Milan. For years he has dedicated time and energy to his passion for the Great War fought on the Dolomites front, collaborating as expert, writer and editor with specialised magazines and organising theme exhibitions.
Michele Simonetti “Federspiel”
Born in Milan in 1964, he has been a frequent explorer of Moena and of the Dolomite peaks since he was 6, in the company of his grandfather, Bruno Federspiel. He began collecting excavation findings, cultivating a passion for military archaeology and collecting artefacts, uniforms and works of art of the Imperial and the Royal Armies and, in general, of the war on the Marmolada, Bocche and Lagorai fronts. Together with Mauro Caimi, he has organised numerous exhibitions and published books on the subject.
They are both “honorary curators” of the Ladin Museum of Fassa for the “Great War” section.
Their collection has now become part of the Ladin Museum of Fassa, to create a permanent museum structure that testifies to the drama that hit the Ladin valleys and Europe as a whole.
This is the same purpose behind the project “Parco della Memoria della Grande Guerra in val di Fassa” (Memory Park of the Great War in the Fassa Valley), extended to the territory between the high “via Bruno Federspiel” and “Bepi Zach” and Cima Bocche.