War from a grassroots perspective

“War from a grassroots perspective”, as we wrote before in the conference report of yesterday, which focused on the relationship between the front and the hinterland, the soldiers and their families, the self-organization of local communities, wartime postcards, and so on. The war, however, is seen from a real grassroots perspective by the fallen. They were commemorated with an unusual monument in the Sardinian town of Orgòsolo.

The walls of Orgòsolo have been decorated by – surprisingly good quality – murals since the 1960s, and from here they have spread to the other towns of Sardinia. But while in the other places they usually paint traditional scenes and figures on the walls of the houses, the majority of the Orgòsolo frescoes are politically charged protest paintings. Orgòsolo, laying in the heart of the Barbagia, the most closed, most archaic mountainous region of Sardinia, has always been the center of Sardinian independence and of protest against Italian power, whom they consider as invaders. It was especially so in the 1960s and 1970s, when they defended the traditional pastoral culture against the expropriation of land by the central power. The first murals, about which we will write in detail in a separate post, were expressions of this resistance.

The mural in question adorns the corner of via Cadorna. General – under Mussolini, Marshall – Luigi Cadorna was the commander-in-chief of the Italian army during World War I. In victorious Italy, many streets have been named after him. However, the opinion of the historians is not so favorable of him. According to David Stevenson, he was “one of the most callous and incompetent of First World War commanders”, who believed that discipline could resolve every problem. He was extremely cruel to his soldiers, while he could not attain the smallest success on the Isonzo front, due to a lack of organization, supplies and military overview. Between 1915 and 1917 he launched eleven major offensives against the Austro-Hungarian positions, all unsuccessful, with massive casualties. Then, when in late October 1917 the Central Powers launched a counterattack at Caporetto – today Kobarid –, they swept away in a few days the Italian army, the majority of whom – 275 thousand soldiers – surrendered. The Italians were able to finish the war only through French and British support. Nearly six hundred thousand Italian soldiers perished in the Isonzo and Piave fronts.

“For a brilliant attack, you calculate how many men the machine gun can break down, and you attack with a greater number of men. Someone will reach the machine gun.”
Luigi Cadorna: Letters

If a grateful Italian State guarantees that a street sign that the name of General Cadorna will forever be maintained, the mural painted next to it as a commentary will ensure, that the Sardinians – who lost especially many young people during the First World War – know precisely what is Cadorna’s due. The text commentary in the picture reads as follows:

“General L. Cadorna, the main responsible for the massacre of World War I.
Soldiers killed on all frontlines: 8 million 740 thousand
Italian soldiers killed: 571 thousand
Invalids and mutilated: 451.645
Missing: 117.000
210 thousand soldiers were shot dead or were convicted, because they did not want to fight any more.

And the First World War soldier’s song given in the mouth of the young widow, and thus of the whole community, makes sure that the memory of Caporetto be also maintained:

E anche a mi’ marito tocca andare (My husband must also go). Text and recording from here

E anche al mi’ marito tocca andare
a fa’ barriera contro l’invasore,
ma se va a fa’ la guerra e po’ ci more
rimango sola con quattro creature.

E avevano ragione i socialisti:
ne more tanti e ’un semo ancora lesti;
ma s’anco ’r prete dice che dovresti,
a morì te ’un ci vai, ’un ci hanno cristi.

E a te, Cadorna, ’un mancan l’accidenti,
ché a Caporetto n’hai ammazzati tanti;
noi si patisce tutti questi pianti
e te, nato d’un cane, non li senti,

E ’un me ne ’mporta della tu’ vittoria,
perché ci sputo sopra alla bandiera;
sputo sopra l’Italia tutta ’ntera
e vado ’n culo al re con la su’ boria,

E quando si farà rivoluzione
ti voglio ammazzà io, nato d’un cane,
e a’ generali figli di puttane
gli voglio sparà a tutti cor cannone.
My husband must also go
to put a barrier to the invaders
but if he goes to war and dies,
I remain alone with four children.

The Socialists were right, that so many
die, and we are not still awaken
but even if the priest tells you to go
you should not go, there’s not that Christ!

But you, Cadorna, are not satisfied with
the so many dead you’ve killed at Caporetto
we here suffer and cry all the time
but you, son of bitch, do not even hear it

I’m not interested in your victory,
because I spit on your flag,
I spit on all Italy,
I fuck in the ass the king with his arrogance

And when there will be revolution,
I want to kill you, son of a bitch
and all the bastard generals
I will to shoot dead with cannon.

3 comentarios:

cinzia robbiano dijo...

Finally, the name of Cadorna has been removed from many streets and squares in Italy.

Studiolum dijo...

What is the general opinion on him? Do people still know who he was? And if yes, what is his image like?

cinzia robbiano dijo...

The opinion of course is bad, as for all those Generals who sent thousands of men to death. I think he was an old fashioned strategist, like many others in European armies, with a little sensibility for his troups, supported by politicians who believed that countries were worth the sacrifice of many lives.