Hungarian POWs in Italy and Their Future Prospects After WWI


For many Hungarian soldiers in Italy, 3 and 4 November 1918 meant not the armistice and a return home, but the beginning of a prolonged stay in one of the Italian prison camps. It is widely known why these soldiers fell into captivity, but their prospects of returning home are still somewhat unclear. The topic is particularly interesting since some of the Hungarian soldiers were to return to a different country from the one they left given that from 1918–1919 onward, their native land now belonged to one of the successor states of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. The issue of ethnicity was entwined with various political and ideological concerns in regard to which ethnic groups returned home first and for what reasons. In fact, there were some attempts made by Hungarian counter-revolutionary groups in Vienna, Arad and later in Szeged, to demand the release of Hungarian POWs so they could be enlisted in a war against the Hungarian Republic of Councils. The situation in Italy should not be overlooked as well, given that prisoners were generally an important labour force for them. We must mention also the Paris Peace Conference which addressed the future of these POWs. In view of the abovementioned, the topic cannot be viewed only from the Italian or Hungarian perspective. This study deals with the various aspects of Hungarian POWs’ returning home after the Armistice of Villa Giusti.