August 27th, 1916: Italy Declares War on Germany

August 27, 2014 § Leave a comment

August 27th, 1916: Almost one hundred years ago today, Italy declared war on Germany despite its policy of neutrality during World War One. In 1915, a year before this declaration of war, Italy agreed to the terms of the Treaty of London which secured large tracts of land to Italy. The Triple Entente (Britain, France, and Russia) wanted to weaken the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Ottoman Empire, and Bulgaria) by opening up a southern front and they believed the Treaty of London would persuade Italy to fight on their side. They were correct with this prediction.

Unfortunately, Italy didn’t exactly achieve a great military success. Italy, weary after the victorious Italo-Turkish War of 1911, entered WWI a mere five years later and suffered a crippling defeat at Caporetto against an Austro-Hungarian army, losing 300,00 men. On top of this humiliation, Italy was snubbed at the conclusion of the war with the Treaty of Versailles and its exclusive negotiations.

Orth, "Banco di Roma," 1920. 46 x 31. Very Fine Condition.

Orth, “Banco di Roma,” 1920. 46 x 31. Very Fine Condition.

Above is Orth’s “Banco di Roma,” a poster encouraging Italians to subscribe to the 1920 National French Treasury Loan. The female on the right is Marianne, a national symbol of the French Republic, signifying liberty and reason. She reaches towards the Colosseum, showing the political alliance of France and Italy. The text beneath her translates to “It is the ashes of death which creates the homeland.” This quote is by the French poet and politician Alphonse Lamartine, who helped found the French Second Republic and was known as a spokesman of the working class. In an effort to pay for war debt and rebuild Europe, Orth sends a message of rebirth after destruction and the power of collaboration.


Check out our upcoming show titled “A Call to Action; Posters of the First World War” which includes over 100 original World War I propaganda posters. The Show will run from September 13- September  23rd at our gallery at 2201 Fourth Street, in Berkeley, CA.

This post was written by Nicole Garson, Intern, UCB class of 2016 and edited by Elizabeth Norris, Proprietor of Vintage European Posters

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