After the battles of the river Piave, Monte Grappa and Vittorio Veneto.
25 October: in Ampezzo the Austrian retreat begins; it is followed by the chaos of thousands of soldiers who are escaping, of vehicles overloaded with hungry and ragged soldiers and stragglers with no discipline.
4 November: the war ends. Armistice of Villa Giusti between Italy and Austria.
7 November: two Italian officers arrive in Cortina to scout: the troops occupy the village again on
10 November: That time either there are no celebrations; too many victims and too many disasters did not allow any exultations.
The consequences of war in Ampezzo.
In Ampezzo there were 88 casualties, 10 missing soldiers, 15 dead civilians, 21 died after the armistice as cosequence of wounds and war diseases. In total 134 dead who left 25 widows and 78 orphans: a very high number. There were also many men who came back maimed, without a leg, without an arm or other mutilations.
The Ladin Valleys were divided according to the “watershed” principle:
– Cortina d’Ampezzo and Livinnallongo are assigned to the Province of Belluno (1923)
– Val Badia and Val Gardena are assigned to the Province of Bolzano (1927)
– Val di Fassa remains united to Trento.
The idea behind this division was to undermine the internal cohesion of the Ladin people.
Indeed, the different political and administrative organisation of the valleys threatens to reducemutual contact increasingly.
In the places were the battles were fought, there remained many graveyards: more than 50 in the area surrounding Cortina d’Ampezzo. In 1920 the mortuary authority made reconaissance on account of the Ministry of War. In 1921 the corpses of the small and numerous war cemeteries were gathered together in the “Cimitero degli Eroi del Cadore” (Cemetery of the Cadore Heroes) placed in Fiames.
On 23 July 1939 the Sacrario (Sacrarium) of Pocòl was unveiled; besides that “Tempio Ossario” (Temple Ossuary ) there is the project to build the “Museo della grande guerra”.
The damage brought about by the war was great; it amounted to 500.000 lire (the wage of a worker was 20 lire per day). The damage caused to pastures by trenches, roads, diggings, huts etc amounted to 227.000 in 1921. The damage made on 2.451 hectares of woodland was of 13 million lire.
Another curiosity: in 1914 the taxes paid by Ampezzo to the Habsburg Empire were 7 % of income; In the same period of time in Cadore 27% was paid to the Italian Kingdom.
The collectors of Ampezzo
After the war, all weapons and munitions were collected at first; afterwards, the huts were pulled down and what remained was gathered together with other firewood; then the human remains were collected too and paid for at a price of 5 liras each (helmets were worth 2 liras each); finally iron and other metals.
Those collectors handed down the spirit of search to other generations who found in the collection and in the memory of that past a means by which the knowledge, including visual knowledge of the objects or pictures shown in a museum, could be handed down to future generations; that became a warning against ever allowing such a tragedy to happen again.
The idea of a War Museum
In 1964 some relic hunters began collecting. In 1979 a Committee was founded in order to establish a “Museo di guerra” (“War Museum”) and a centre for historical research in Cortina d’Ampezzo. Despite a number of hurdles to overcome, the will to achieve the goal has remained.
At last certain initiatives are coming to fruition with agreements between public bodies and private organisations and the coordination of volunteers.
Any kind of collaboration is welcomed.
In order to increase and preserve the knowledge of local history, private citizens who have pictures, postcards, diaries, letters, newpapers or any other material which can be useful for the Museum are kindly asked to contact the voluntary association “Hayden – Cortina d’Ampezzo” 32043 Cortina d’Ampezzo (BL) Italy – Telephone 347 497 0781 0436 390 003