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Generalship And Mass Surrender During The Italian Defeat At Caporetto

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Chapter Summary

The Italian defeat at Caporetto in October 1917 has been the subject of fierce historiographical debate. An examination of the conduct of the opening stage of the battle offers some answers as to the nature and causes of mass surrender at Caporetto. This chapter focuses on the first 48 hours of the battle, and the responses of senior Italian officers, in order to understand the central and controversial issue of how tactical defeat became strategic defeat, and how it happened so quickly. Not all lost battles lead to serious strategic disasters like that at Caporetto: the Italians had suffered tactical defeats before, most notably in the Trentino during the Austrian offensive of May 1916. By considering combat motivation and officers? decision-making we can seek to understand why so many men surrendered in the first few days of the battle, and how these surrenders entailed defeat on such a scale.

Keywords: Caporetto; Italian Defeat; mass surrender



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