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The family goes to war E-mail

In the early 1900s the trust in the new Austro-Hungarian currency was very strong. Even during the First World War and its aftermath, the devaluation of the Krona was completely out of the question, for the vast majority of the population. Therefore the later wake up call was much more disruptive.


In 1907, at the age of 25, the “Tante Mitzi” moved for a year to Venice, where she worked for the Trentin-Tami noble family, in their villa at Lido. There she learned the Italian language and the good manners. She also met the love of her life, the young Franz Vogl from Weigelsdorf bei Wien, with whom she developed a passionate love story.


The 1908 invasion of Bosnia and Herzegovina started a new European crisis. The following 1912 and 1913 Balkan wars further increased the tensions between the multi cultural Austrian state and Serbia. While the world around Tante Mitzi was going crazy and experiencing war and destruction, she held true to her values of family, honesty, work, tolerance and respectful coexistence in society.


When WWI broke out, “Tante Mitzi” was 33 years old. Her fiancé Franz was drafted to the eastern front, where also her brothers Alois and Filipp had to fight. In May 1915 Italy declared war with Austria, and the encroaching war front moved almost up to Villach. On September 16th 1915 the nearby Church on Mt. Lussari was bombed. In 1916 the situation in Saifnitz (Camporosso) became so dangerous, that the civilian population was evacuated. The “Tante Mitzi” family moved to Schieffling am Woerthersee, where Maria started working as a cook. Throughout the war she kept on writing love letters to Franz. Unfortunately one sad day in 1918 she received news from Vienna that Franz had been killed in action. This was the worst loss of Tante Mitzi’s life, and she vowed to herself not to have any other man in her life.


In 1918 the Austrian Monarchy imploded. On October 21st 1918 a new temporary national assembly was formed, which on November 3rd signed the armistice with Italy. On November 13th 1918 the new German-Austrian republic was declared. The new temporary border was placed just south of Klagenfurt and Villach. In order to secure the railway line between Vienna and Italy, Italian troops were even temporarily stationed in the city of Villach, in the central “Jägerkaserne” barracks.


In May 1918 the “Tante Mitzi” moved back to Saifnitz (Camporosso), followed by her brothers Alois and Filipp, now both war veterans. The family house no. 83 had been plundered, but the biggest surprise was yet to come. In June 1919 the winning powers of WWI signed the peace-treaty of Versailles, and in September the subsequent treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, where it was decided that the Kanaltal valley had to be given to the Italian Kingdom as a compensation of war. Through the same treaty a special commission was created, whose task was to determine exactly the amount of war damage suffered by the civilian population. The total war damages refunded to the TANTE MITZI was quantified in 1047,75 Krone (today approx. €5000). She kept just 1 gold coin of 20 Krone for her, while all her savings in Austrian money were put into an account she opened at the Sparkasse Villach bank. This saving account still shows today a credit of 5604,66 Krone (about €25.000). At this time Saifnitz/Camporosso became part of the Italian Kingdom, and exchanging Krone into the Italian Lire was not possible, also because the gold standard of the Krone was changed many times between end 1919 and August 1922.


In 1924 the Krone was drastically devalued, and converted into the Schilling. For 10.000 Krone banknotes became 1 Schilling, and 14.400 Krone banknotes were required to get 1 Krone gold coin. The TANTE MITZI believed that her savings account in the bank was protected from such devaluation, therefore she left it there. When in 1924 she wanted to withdraw some money, she discovered that she would receive only 1/14400th of the original value, because her saving account was considered liquid and therefore equivalent to banknotes, not coins. Therefore she left her money in the bank, and regretted her entire life not having bought a new house in time, since after the devaluation she could have afforded just a piece of bread.


In 1933 the Tante Mitzi’s mother died, after her daughter had taken good care of her during her final years. Luckily the family wealth was not in the bank, but actually consisted of land. From an excerpt of the land register it shows that the Tante Mitzi inherited from her mother a total amount of “5 Joch und 1046 Klafter" of land (approx. 32.000 sqm).