3565 THE TWENTIETH CENTURY-THE GREAT WAR.
"Unspeakable Turk" the Armenia that
had been stained for centuries by the blood
of a helpless Christian people and that the
remnant of the Armenians would either
be given their freedom or placed under
the protection of a civilized power. Toward
the end of 1915, a series of events began
which seemed likely to result in the latter.
After his removal from the chief command, Grand Duke Nicholas was sent to
the Caucasus region, and with his coming
operations took on a more active aspect.
In December, 1915, and the period following, he won repeated victories over the
Turkish forces. In February, 1916, he
captured the great mountain fortress and
town of Erzerum, with hundreds of cannon and thousands of prisoners, and followed up this success, the greatest Russian
victory since the fall of Przemysl, by
taking Bitlis west of Lake Van. The
Turkish forces were driven westward all
along the line; Trebizond was captured,
northwestern Persia was redeemed, and
the Russian left wing marched southwestward toward the region of Bagdad.
It was believed that the British troops
in Mesopotamia and the Russians further
north would ultimately attempt to join
hands, exclude the Turks and Germans
from Persia, and try to capture Bagdad
and all of the region round about it.
CHAPTER CLXXVIII-ITALY JOINS THE ALLIES.
THE Allied view of their
advantage in case of
a long war was rendered more plausible
by reason of the fact
that, in the spring of
1915, they won a great
which resulted in Italy's throwing her army
and navy into the conflict on their side.
Italy, as is well known, had been a
member of the Triple Alliance since 1882.
This alliance was the work of Bismarck,
who took advantage of Italian indignation
at France over the seizure of Tunis to
secure the Italian signature to the compact. The Italians did not know then,
nor did they know for many years, that
Bismarck himself was the real instigator
of the French action.
In many respects the alliance was an
unnatural one. Austria was more bitterly
hated by Italians than any other power,
for it was against Austria that the Italians
had fought for independence and national
unity; and in the Dual Monarchy there
still remained large numbers of people
of Italian blood who remained "unliberated." And there were Pan-Italians,
usually known as "Irredentists," just as
there were Pan-Slavs and Pan-Germans.
The alliance endured for thirty-two
years, but the Italians had an uneasy
feeling that they derived no benefits from
it. They felt that when their interests
clashed with those of Austria, it was
the Austrian interests that received most
consideration from the senior members
of the firm. Furthermore, a large portion
of the Italians were democratic in their
aspirations; but neither Austrians nor Germans spoke much about "Democracy and
Freedom." Italians also complained of
"the arrogance of the Teutons," and there
can be no doubt that Italian susceptibilities were often ruffled by German
methods. For several years the conflicting
interests of Austria and Italy had tended
to weaken the bond, and Italy's seizure
of Tripoli was little short of a declaration
of independence from Teutonic influence.
Even as early as 1911, the German Bernhardi had written: "Modern French
writers are already reckoning so confidently
on the withdrawal of Italy from the Triple
Alliance that they no longer think it
necessary to put an army in the field
against Italy, but consider that the entire
forces of France are available against
When the Great War broke out, the
world was not surprised that Italy stood