Commonwealth Cemeteries of World War I on Google Earth

Tezze British Cemetery
(Piave area)
A new set of digital resources is now available to map and localize the WWI British cemeteries, burial plots and memorials around the globe. The project was possible thanks to the joint efforts of CWGC (Commonwealth War Graves Commission) and World War One Centenary - Continuations and Beginnings by University of Oxford. The application, based on Google Earth, allows to search among the First World War cemeteries, to locate the one nearest to you (thanks to a typical service based on geolocalization) and to obtain information from the CWGC site about the specific site you're interested in. Secondly, this becomes also a way to map the impact of the Great War in some specific areas as well as the movements and the presence of the British Army. The project enables you to find also burial plots and war memorials thanks to overlaid pins on the map. There is also a tutorial video you could watch to learn more (for instance, you can sometimes go down to a Google Street View level and explore the area).

First World War one day itineraries through Italy. Suggestion no. 5: Monte Pasubio and the "52 Galleries” Road

Fortifications. Austrian Tooth
Among the excursions, which combine historical importance and landscape interest, the Monte Pasubioand its “52 Galleries” Road may be noticed by all those who are fascinated by WWI history as one of the most interesting high level paths in the Dolomites. 

As Monte Grappa, Monte Pasubio held a high strategic role during the Great War, since both of them represented the last defensive position of the Venetian Plain. Occupied by the Italians short after the start of the war, Monte Pasubio became a strategic point of the trench line on south eastern borders of Trentino and Veneto region. In 1916, after the Austrian Strafexpedition, an Italian contingent was urgently transferred from the Isonzo Front and under the command of General Papa stopped the Austrian Army at Cima Palon, occupying the southern peak, known as the Italian Tooth (Dente Italiano), separated to the Austrian Tooth only by a small saddle (Selletta dei Denti). This was the background of bloody battles till the end of the conflict.

Originally the Italian front line was supplied trough the Scarubbi Road; this 8 Km long and easy military road was located on the northern side of the limestone ridge of the mountain and exposed to the enemies’ fire, so that Italian vehicles could not drive during the day and at winter time. That’s why in March 1917 the Italian 5th Engineering Regiment built in only 11 months on the southern side of the ridge a new safer trail: the "Strada delle Gallerie" included fifty-two tunnels and ran for more than 2 km in length.

This masterpiece of war and mountain engineering offers nowadays a wonderful chance to walk through history and rocks. The itinerary offers no difficulties and requires only proper trekking equipment and a torch (some of the tunnels are dark and even 300m long).
Drive to Passo Xomo, walk to Malga Campiglia (you can also drive to Malga Campiglia, there’s a payment parking, 5 Euros, but it may be full) and then to Bocchetta Campiglia. From here starts a large path (n.366); it runs through the 52 galleries road. Take time to read the informative boards, which illustrate the history of the road and of the battles of the region and to watch the fortifications. In about 3 hours you can easily reach the Rifugio Papa (1929m) and take a rest (note, please, that the refuge in summer time and especially at weekends is quite crowed; Plan-B: you may have a chilled pic-nic on the near meadows!). The way back runs along path n.370, mostly on the former Strada degli Scarubbi and leads with a 2.30 hours walk to Passo Xomo.

The following itinerary extension could be undertaken only if you have a good training and endure the longer tour and if you start walking quite early in the morning, reaching so Rifugio Papa before midday. From Rifugio Papa starts the path n. 105, which leads to Cima Palon in about an hour. Fortifications are everywhere and the ascent to this summit offers a unique view over part of the Venetian Plain, and north on Dolomites of Brenta, Lagorai and – on the horizon line – the Pale di San Martino and the Marmolada. From Cima Palon you can walk to the Italian and Austrian Tooth, and then back to Rifugio Papa; it takes about 2 hours in total. From Rifugio Papa, the way back always through path n. 370.

If you want to discover more about Monte Pasubio and the 52 galleries road, you may visit the exposition at Museo Storico Italiano della Guerra in Rovereto, Trento. Here a short presentation (only in Italian) of the exposition, opened till December 2013.

Communications during the Great War. An exhibition at Villa Manin in Passariano, Udine

We all know the impact of all wars in communication. The new exhibition we would like to highlight is hosted in the wonderful venue of Villa Manin in Passariano, Udine. It is a kind of journey through the different types of communications: magazines, trench newpapers, the huge flood of correspondence from the front, propaganda and war photography are the main themes that the curators of Consorzio Memoria Storica developed. And if you plan a visit, don't forget to check the website of Villa Manin, where interesting and well curated art exhibitions are often hosted.

The exhibition
Stampa, giornali di trincea, corrispondenza, propaganda e fotografia
28 July - 2 September, 2012
Villa Manin, Passariano di Codroipo, Udine, Italy
From Friday to Sunday, 10:30am-6:00pm (guided tours on Saturdays and Sundays at 4:00pm)
Info: T. +39.0432.481528,

The poets and the World War: "Arsiero, Asiago" and "Killed Piave-July 8-1918" by Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway on crutches
There is absolutely no need to add new words on Hemingway's prose. Not now and not here, at least. Probably not everyone knew that Hemingway wrote poetry. The "problem" with Hemingway is that a novel like A Farewell to Arms overwhelms and obscures his verses. Of course you can find his poems translated into many languages, and among his verses, there is a substantial group of poems dedicated to the Great War time and his experience in Italy. What we may notice is that his poetry is probably an example of "remembered war". It is not the same situation we may find in a poet like Ungaretti, who wrote live at night or at the first light his fragmented verses and kept the collection of sheets inside his haversack, preserved by his friend and officer Ettore Serra (publisher of Il porto sepolto in 1916). If we look at this group of poems they often report a place and the date at the end. The place is not in the front line and the date is after the end of the war, usually early in the 1920s. Their brevity and the fact that they are already in English allow us to post two poems (and not only one like we have done so far).


Arsiero, Asiago,
Half a hundred more,
Little border villages,
Back before the war,
Monte Grappa, Monte Corno,
Twice a dozen such,
In the piping times of peace
Didn't come to much.

Paris ca. 1922


Desire and
All the sweet pulsing aches
And gentle hurtings
That were you,
Are gone into the sullen dark.
Now in the night you come unsmiling
To lie with me
A dull, cold, rigid bayonet
On my hot-swollen, throbbing soul

Chicago 1921

The above poems were taken from 88 poems of Ernest Hemingway edited by Nicholas Gerogiannis.

"War Trauma and English Modernism: T. S. Eliot and D. H. Lawrence". The groundbreaking study of Carl Krockel

Since the Seventies the debate on war literature and English Modernism has become more complex. Especially Paul Fussell’s thesis, contradicting the mainly demythologizing role of the war literature, took the debate in new direction and focused on the role of a certain art of “fiction” in it, reassessing also the relationship between soldiers and civilians. Carl Krockel’s new book – War Trauma and English Modernism: T. S. Eliot and D. H. Lawrence, Hampshire, UK, 2011 – attempts to carry on this perspective and questions how WWI shaped English Modernism, focusing on S. Eliot and D. H. Lawrence. In many respects opposed figures of Modernism, neither of them saw active service, both of them testimony yet in their work the trauma of WWI, being threatened by a society fixated upon war (and we may find here some suggestion to think about what “global war” means).
Krockel compares Eliot and Lawrence to other war writers (among them, Owen and Sasson as prototype of the soldier-poet) in order to prove that both authors – despite not participating in war events and being so unable to represent the conflict realistically because they had not witnessed it – they opposed to realism, appearing it even inadequate for representing the war horrors, a new aesthetic technique. According to Krockel, literary innovation of Modernism represents so for both Eliot and Lawrence a new strategy to resist at the impact of war upon their lives.
We suggest this book not primarily for the debate on literary criticism, which seems to be sometimes too detailed for not insiders, but for the “multilevel reading” of this study. Referring to D. H. Lawrence’s and T. S. Eliot’s biographical and psychological attitude toward WWI and their indirect, yet painful experience of it, the book offers an interesting analysis of the relationship between soldier and civilian, physical and psychological traumatism of WWI on English society and depicts so how the legacy of the conflict goes beyond the trenches and spreads violence in the everyday life of veterans and civilians. Above all we recommend this study for the investigation of Lawrence’s (for instance, in The Rainbow and Women in Love) and Eliot’s (among all, The Waste Land or The Hollow Men, but also Ash Wednesday) works. It may be a good incentive to read once again their masterpieces and try to feel – not just understand – what WWI really meant. It may be a good incentive to listen once again to Eliot’s voice telling us: “[…] Son of man, / You cannot say, or guess, for you know only / A heap of broken images, where the sun beats, / And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief, / And the dry stone no sound of water. Only / There is shadow under this red rock, / (Come in under the shadow of this red rock), / And I will show you something different from either / Your shadow at morning striding behind you / Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you; / I will show you fear in a handful of dust.”

Writings of the Great War: the censor Leo Spitzer and "Italienische Kriegsgefangenenbriefe"

Leo Spitzer (1887-1960)
There is also a "silent explosion" occurring during the First World War. It is the explosion of writing, at all levels, in many forms, in all the classes of the population. Historians might have told the story of the war from this perspective of letters, of big masses of population writing letters and postcards (the stumbling grammar, the influence of spoken language on the syntax, the relationship between contents and the awareness of undergoing the censorship).
And someone started this venture. Well, not any Tom, Dick and Harry could do this: the man we're introducing now was one the most brilliant minds of his time. The most of Italian school books faces the above mentioned topic starting from a basic book of the Austrian romanist Leo Spitzer, author of an incomparable study on the letters that Italian war prisoners wrote. Spitzer was a censor enlisted in the Austro-Hungarian army and he was able to turn his war experience into one of the unforgettable studies blossoming after the end of the war. The book he published in 1921, Italienische Kriegsgefangenenbriefe. Materialien zu einer Charakteristik der volkstümlichen italienischen Korrespondenz, was revolutionary both from the point of view of the approach and from the one of the subject.

It is logical and normal to start this unit dedicated to the writing outcomes of World War I bringing him back to mind along with his lucky book. At a first deep glance, the innovation coming with this work is already given in its structure. See for instance the titles of the chapters and you get, already systemized by Spitzer's analysis, the typical situations (frames) to which the huge quantity of letters refers: how to start and to end a letter, how to say goodbye, the embarassment for the bad writing, the distance, the dream, children and wives, the resignation, the wait for peace, the requests for money and clothing, the relationship with censorship, the starvation, the humour etc. His analysis was the origin of a once in a century book. We still have difficulty in finding good disciples around: it's really a pity, because in Spitzer's book everybody could track the source a new discipline that we might call the "philology of the Great War". Wouldn't it be by far more interesting to investigate the war starting from the huge collection of available texts instead of daydreaming about the newest war relic?