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Apostles of the AlpsMountaineering and Nation Building in Germany and Austria, 1860-1939$
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Tait Keller

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781469625034

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469625034.001.0001

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The High Alps in the Great War

The High Alps in the Great War

Soldiers and Summits on the Alpine Front

Chapter:
(p.89) 4 The High Alps in the Great War
Source:
Apostles of the Alps
Author(s):

Tait Keller

Publisher:
University of North Carolina Press
DOI:10.5149/northcarolina/9781469625034.003.0005

This chapter examines how the twentieth century’s “seminal catastrophe” shaped the mountains. Long-standing disputes between Italian irredentists and Austrian nationalists erupted in armed conflict in May 1915, creating a battlefront that crossed the Dolomite, Carnic, and Julian Alps. General Luigi Cadorna led the Italian forces and focused his attacks on the Isonzo Valley. The Italian army had also organized elite units of soldiers, the Alpini, who were familiar with the rugged terrain. The newly formed German Alpine Corps, under the command of General-lieutenant Konrad Krafft von Dellmensingen, defended the heights. The migration of armies to the mountains accelerated developments that had begun in the nineteenth century. Industrialization of the Alps intensified with the vast expansion of roads and railways and the migration of war machinery and troops to the peaks. Like the landscape itself, mountaineering ideals were militarized during the conflict. In the aftermath of war, the political reorganization of central Europe recast perceptions of the Alps, particularly among the defeated. As the result of the Great War, the Alps, once the realm of serenity, now also provided a foundation for national fantasies of future conquest.

Keywords:   First World War, Irredentism, Alpine Front, Italy, Luigi Cadorna, Isonzo Valley, Alpini, Konrad Krafft von Dellmensingen, German Alpine Corps

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