Standschützen. The Tyrol Front 1915-1918


The Tyrol Front 1915-1918

Museo Storico Italiano della Guerra

4 October 2018 | 10 February 2019
Tuesday to Sunday | 10 am to 6 pm

In May 1915, when the conflict with Italy started, Austria-Hungary had been at war for ten months and had already lost one million men against Serbia and Russia, counting the dead, the injured, the missing and prisoners.
To cope with the opening of a third front, the Hapsburg monarchy extended the conscription age from 18 to 50 years and asked Germany for help, which sent Alpenkorps troops in June 1915. The Standschützen were called up to guard the Tyrolean front, territorial militias composed of the over-fifties and under-eighteens, enrolled at the shooting ranges of Tyrol and Vorarlberg.

Although fewer in number than the Italian forces, the Standschützen and a few provisional units, along with the garrisons of the forts, held the front until autumn 1915, when the Kaiserjäger and Landesschützen regiments were transferred to Tyrol from Galicia, taking the place of the Alpenkorps.
Although Tyrol was not one of the main fronts, fighting in the mountains put the soldiers under enormous strain: transportation, building shelters, frostbite and avalanches were among the main causes of illness, injury and death.

Over time, the number of Standschützen diminished: in addition to the losses, young people were partly employed as militarised workers or – as they got older – became part of the regular army, while the elderly were moved to the rear or dismissed.

These pictures, rare and often unpublished, were taken between 1915 and 1918 in the war zone: from the Sesto Dolomites to Val di Fassa, Lagorai and Vallagarina. They portray trench scenes and moments of daily life from the Standschützen battalions of Innsbruck, Enneberg, Bozen, Kufstein, Brixen, Meran, Landeck, Nauders-Ried and Reutte.

The pictures come from archives and private collections, for whose availability the Museum is grateful.