Although Italy was one of the victorious Allies, it finished World War I with a sense of defeat. Six hundred and fifty thousand Italians had been killed and a million wounded. Italian industry slumped immediately after the war, and within a few months 10 percent of the industrial workers were unemployed.
Prices rose rapidly, and wages failed to keep up. The promised pensions for wounded veterans and families of those who had been killed were long delayed. Strikes and disorders became frequent. Many of the young men were released from the armies with no trade but war and no job to go to; they drifted restlessly, prey for leaders with glittering promises.
Perhaps most important, the Italian government began to spread propaganda among the Italian people to the effect that their wartime allies were robbing them of Dalmatia, which had been promised to Italy by the secret Treaty of London (1915) in exchange for Italy’s entrance into the war.
The United States had never agreed to this arrangement and now would not accept it. Although the Allied leaders at the Paris peace conference remained unaffected by the storms of protest arising from Italy, the Italian people came to believe that they had shed their blood in vain.