The Seeds of Italy’s Campaign
When the new Italian Comando Supremo began a propaganda campaign against Austria-Hungary in the spring of 1918, it was acting partly in response to Austria’s own campaign, partly in response to the shock of Caporetto. The CS realized increasingly that scruples ought to be set aside and weapons of any kind might justifiably be employed against a dangerous enemy. The propaganda weapon, in Italy’s hands, had an explosive quality precisely because it could exploit Austria-Hungary’s nationalist tensions, either through manifestos or through propaganda patrols. In the latter case, the Austro-Hungarian forces would eventually be faced with patrols composed of Czech or Yugoslav volunteers, men who had deserted or been captured by the Italians and then returned to the front to influence or subvert their former comrades. As the events at Zborov in June 1917 had shown, the very presence of such units, as propaganda patrols or even as combatants, could have a devastating effect.
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