London Treaty (1915)

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The Treaty of London 1915 ( Italian Patto di Londra ) was signed on April 26, 1915 during the First World War as a secret treaty between Italy on the one hand and the allied Great Britain , France and Russia on the other. It envisaged Italy's entry into the war against the German Empire and Austria-Hungary , for which the recognition of various territorial claims, such as B. the southern Tyrol , was assured.


Before the First World War , Italy was a member of the Triple Alliance with Germany and Austria-Hungary. Since the Triple Alliance was a defensive alliance , but after the assassination attempt in Sarajevo the war began as a war of aggression by the Habsburg Monarchy on Serbia , Italy was no longer obliged to provide assistance and initially declared its neutrality .

After Italy's annexation of Libya in 1911, anger over the French occupation of Tunisia in Italy in 1881 subsided. On the other hand, Italians still lived under Austrian rule in Trentino and the coastal region . Conversely, during the war France was interested in being able to withdraw its guards from the Alpine border with Italy in order to strengthen the front against Germany.

Formation and content of the agreements

The areas of the Adriatic Sea that fall to Italy according to the Treaty (red line)
Parts of Tyrol (South Tyrol and Trentino) that were assured to Italy

On 4 March 1915, the Italian Foreign Minister commissioned Sonnino the Ambassador Guglielmo Imperiali in London, the demands of Italy for a declaration of war on the part of the Entente Triple submitted after less far-reaching deals had not satisfied Austria-Hungary Italy. The Italian demands were accepted in London, with South Tyrol in particular being the object of exchange for the Italian demands in the Balkans , which Russia strictly rejected. The "secret treaty" was then signed on April 26, 1915 at a conference. It was also agreed that appropriate army and naval agreements should be concluded to coordinate the war effort against the Central Powers . In particular, Russia committed itself to relieving attacks on Austria-Hungary, if this should direct its main power against Italy, France and Great Britain committed themselves to active combat against the Austrian fleet in the Mediterranean. In return, Italy undertook to fight all opponents with all available forces. On May 23, 1915, the Italian ambassador in Vienna presented the declaration of war to his government.

For the peace agreement, Italy was assured of large territorial gains:

  • Tyrol to the Brenner
  • Trieste and Istria except Rijeka (Fiume)
  • northern and central Dalmatia with the offshore islands
  • the possession of the Dodecanese in the Aegean Sea, which was already occupied by Italy, was guaranteed
  • the possession of the already occupied Libya was guaranteed
  • Italy should get a fair share in a possible division of Turkey (the area of Antalya and adjacent areas up to and including Konya and Smyrna )
  • in the event of a division of the German colonies, compensation was promised to Italy in Africa
  • Italy was granted the right to direct Albania's external relations

Italy, in turn, undertook to recognize the claims of Serbia and Montenegro to a coastal strip around Rijeka as well as in southern Dalmatia and not to oppose a division of Albania into Serbia, Montenegro, Greece and a small Albanian remnant state around Durazzo .

British-Italian secret treaty

In a parallel secret agreement (without the inclusion of France) in 1915, Great Britain assured Italy not only of the vague compensation promised in Africa but also specifically that it would acquire Abyssinia (Ethiopia).

public perception

After the October Revolution of 1917, the Bolshevik Russian government began to publish the secret treaties of the Russian Empire , including the Treaty of London . The Austro-Hungarian military administration translated the passages concerning Albania into Skypetarian and published them. In Albania the mood against the Italian occupation troops in the south turned. On June 3, 1917, the commander of the Italian occupation forces, Lieutenant General Giacinto Ferrero, proclaimed the unity and independence of all of Albania under the Protectorate of Italy in Gjirokastra .

After the October Revolution , the Council of People's Commissars published the text of the Russian treaty in the government newspaper Izvestia in November 1917 , in order to educate the population about Italy's imperialist war aims and to justify the Brest-Litovsk peace treaty .

After the end of the war, Italy actually got South Tyrol , Trieste and Istria and kept Libya and the Dodecanese . However, Dalmatia was added to the newly formed Kingdom of Yugoslavia . The zone in the south of Turkey had to be evacuated again because the government under Kemal Ataturk did not accept the peace treaty, and Italy also initially received nothing when it came to the distribution of the German colonies.

The Italian military successes had been less successful than hoped despite great war effort. In addition, Italy did not receive the territorial gains promised in the treaty in full. Therefore, despite the victory, the disappointment in Italy was great. This is considered to be one of the reasons for the rise of fascism .

In 1924/26 the British left some relatively insignificant Egyptian and Kenyan border areas to round off Libya and Italian Somaliland (oasis of Jarabub, Jubaland ) to fascist Italy since October 1922 .

Individual evidence

  1. a b Rolf Steininger : 1918/1919. The division of Tyrol . In: Georg Grote , Hannes Obermair (Ed.): A Land on the Threshold. South Tyrolean Transformations, 1915-2015 . Peter Lang, Oxford-Bern-New York 2017, ISBN 978-3-0343-2240-9 , pp. 3–25, here: p. 6 .
  2. Gerhard Hellwig , Gerhard Linne: data of world history . Bertelsmann Lexikon Verlag Gütersloh 1975, p. 373.
  3. ^ Michael Schmidt-Neke: Development and expansion of the royal dictatorship in Albania (1912–1939). Formation of government, mode of rule and power elite in a young Balkan state. (= Southeast European Works 84), Oldenbourg Verlag, Munich 1987, ISBN 3-486-54321-0 , p. 43.


Web links

Commons : Treaty of London (1915)  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files