Italy would switch sides in 1915. Whom did this hurt?

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Mar 16, 2016

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Most certainly the former allies.

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There are all sorts of quotes pertaining the Italian unaggressive behaviour over endless war campaigns and years. All are disparaging. At least this one is funny (albeit mostly true). It is attributed to Louis XIV who, unhappy about the numerous victories that the Prince Eugene de Savoy had inflicted to his troops (Savoy was a constant French ally and Eugene one of his innumerable nephews) is said to have said: "Monseigneur de Savoy never finished a war on the same side from which he has started it".
Such ungentlemanlike behaviour, with a few notable exceptions, continued until WWII. That is, until the Italian Royal Family was eventually sent to exile and the country became a Republic.

Rather than "who did the Italian switch of sides benefit"? you rightly ask who did it hurt? Rightly, I say, because the switch certainly did not profit the Italians who, at the end of the conflict, felt that they had been deprived of their righteous felt territorial rewards (after all, that was the reason why they had switched side and entered the war for).

Hence my answer is that the ones who were hurt worse by the manoeuvre were the Italians who, in spite of the their war effort for three (instead of four) years, in spite of the heavy losses and destruction, gained in exchange less than a third of what they had been promised by the new allies (the Entente) who enticed them to the switch.
The consequence of such delusion and loss of capital coupled with tumbling fiscal revenue was: inflation, unemployment, a radical change of government policy and, eventually, the rise of Fascism.

Let us not forget that what became known in Italy as the "Stolen Victory" was accompanied at the Peace Table by the ultimate humiliation. Austria in fact flatly refused to cede the Tyrolian province occupied and demanded by Italy as compensation, since the Imperial Government felt that their army had never been defeated by the Italians after Caporetto. Their, rather specious, argument was that the Italian victory at Vittorio Veneto was merely a consequence of their own defeat on the other fronts. The compromise that sealed the Peace Treaty was a cession of the Tyrol territory to France who immediately retroceded it to Italy.

Hence my answer to your question is ; Italy.
Such answer however does not imply that it would have been better for the country if the Italian Government had opted to remain on the side that eventually lost the war.

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