Maria Luisa Suprani Querzoli: Luigi Capello - profile of an Italian general

Maria Luisa Suprani Querzoli
Ed. Tralerighe, Lucca 2022
Pag. 198

After deepening the figure of Francesco Baracca, the author dedicates herself, in this new essay, to General Luigi Capello, analyzing in depth his thought through his writings, with the aim of “to lift the veil of oblivion (not before having investigated the causes) that has deposited on his imposing figure.” But, while for the first, the memory has been kept alive over the years, the second, after Caporetto, was fed, by the politicians of the time, to a commission of inquiry, thus carrying out, “a more sacrificial rite than one of justice, aimed above all at pacifying the souls of a harshly tried nation,” with the intent, not so hidden, "to find excellent scapegoats on whom to burden the guilt without bothering to ascertain their actual responsibilities in a definite way." These were identified in the chief of staff, Luigi Cadorna, “removed from the front through a task of mere representation,” and in General Luigi Capello who "he became, also due to his particularly impetuous nature, the figure on whom to converge the bitterness of a people for the involvement in the serious events of Caporetto."

Who, on the other hand, survived the "storm" unscathed was “the one who can be held primarily responsible for the debacle (the commander of the XXVII Army Corps)”: General Pietro Badoglio who, on the other hand, from 9 November 1917 held the position of Deputy Chief of Staff.

Before Caporetto, "during the very hard years and stingy of net results that distinguished the command of General Cadorna," General Capello's name was linked to successes such as the taking of Gorizia, the Sella del Vodice and the conquest of the Bainsizza plateau. He understood that the serious losses, compared to the reduced results obtained, were to be attributed to the “school formalisms distant from the complex and harsh reality of the conflict. […] In reducing casualties (the main reason for which was the excessive density of troops on the battlefront) while keeping the morale of the men high, he saw an objective to be pursued constantly.” He also realized the "little care given both to the continuous training of the troops, and to the information to be provided to them, and to the most adequate psychological preparation to support the morale of the men (all factors he considered essential prerequisites for the effectiveness of the action)."

Cadorna respected him - despite his constant search for visibility and his idyllic relationship with the press and "despite the excesses that characterized his character (exaggerated both in the praises and in the reproaches directed at his soldiers)" - and he feared him, since he was distressed by the idea that there was a conspiracy aimed at removing him from those who would have preferred Capello himself. The result was that Capello was transferred to a quieter place, so that he would have less visibility, to then be recalled to the Isonzo, in command of the XNUMXnd Army (where he prepared the advance of the Bainsizza), once, under the Cadorna's eyes, the shadows of the conspiracy had thinned out. But if the XI battle of the Isonzo was a success for him, the XII, that of Caporetto, definitively sealed his destiny in a negative way.

Despite his deteriorating health, he kept his mind clear and energetic. To her "we owe the timely idea of ​​the strategic retreat and the moral solidity necessary for the reconstruction of the forces in the new necessary arrangements while the ruins were still collapsing." But the folding order – which, "in his thought, it would not have constituted a reason for dishonor, but would have proved to be an effective act of full responsibility, capable of remedying, albeit in part, the damages already suffered" - agreed with Cadorna, was transformed, without his knowledge, “in order of resistance to the bitter end and the last reserves of the II Army were thrown into the abyss.”

Subjected to the judgment of a commission of inquiry, whose results were declared void as they were vitiated by the pressure of high personalities, he obtained a response, much less hostile than the previous one, from a second commission.

Subsequently sentenced to thirty years (which he did not fully serve) for an alleged participation in the assassination attempt (never supported by certain evidence) on Mussolini, who "seemed not to be convinced of his guilt," Capello also suffered “the moral slap of losing all the decorations (as well as the rank) he had been awarded.” They will be returned to him, with a Decree of 26 December 1947, six years after his death.

He would have wanted a rehabilitation with a resonance equal to the conviction, but this did not happen. Tested by the humiliations of prison, even if he was always supported by his family and loved by his cellmates, "Luigi Capello paid hard for his independence of thought since no one could elect him as an icon representing an ideology of any kind."

“The results of his thought, a harbinger of innovative elements, found the prerequisites for taking root completely: to those who still looked at reality through the lenses of tradition without posing the problem of coping with the changing needs, Capello's thought succeeded incomprehensible if not downright annoying.”

Gianlorenzo Capano