Our planet’s World Wars serve as a painful memory of human error, rivalry, and an incriminating desire for domination. Fatalities from WWI numbered more than 16 million, but even more devastating was WWII. The latter saw fatalities ranging above 60 million internationally. Now, the devastation promises to be one of the world’s historically prominent events centuries from now due to the sheer amount of loss and violence. However, resulting artifacts serve as an intriguing time capsule speaking to the reality of the conflict.
Climate change has caused icy rock faces and long-frozen mountain peaks to thaw. As a result, a WWI refuge has emerged from a seemingly impossible location among Italy’s iconic Dolomite mountain group. Standing among the European Alps, photos capture a uniquely constructed WWI refuge set on the face of one Dolomite mountain.
According to the Daily Mail, historians believe the highly elevated refuge sheltered Italian troops as they fought the Austro-Hungarians in the First World War.
Upon first glance, the refuge seems near impossible to reach. Its doorways appear to drop immediately off the rock face should a soldier set a single foot outside the shelter. Possessing no rear entrance and sitting at an intimidating location of 8,858 feet above sea level, professionals state soldiers used rope ladders and cable-ways to reach the refuge.
Interestingly, the refuge appears similar to a remote forest cottage. In contrast, however, the unique structure occupies the side of a mountain. Constructed of brick walls and a slanted roof, the mountainside refuge possesses two open doorways. It also boasts four windows, two of which appear shuttered.
Accessing WWI Shelter Proved Potentially Fatal
Today, the cliffside WWI refuge remains a Unesco World Heritage Site. Although, it previously meant life or death for numerous WWI soldiers.
According to the outlet, both Italians and Austro-Hungarians built shelters into the sides of the Dolomite mountains during WWI. May 23rd, 1915 saw Italy declare war on Austria-Hungary, followed by what the news outlet deemed a “merciless battle.”
Later, the conflict was deemed “The White War” due to the conflict’s freezing conditions. The location of the conflict saw unique battle tactics compared to those that had taken place on more even ground. Since the Dolomites were previously much colder, sporting treacherous rock trails but also icy frozen passages, both armies triggered avalanches to take out enemy troops.
Nevertheless, the thawing mountain group has revealed more than just this beautifully constructed WWI relic. The Daily Mail states a lost WWI mountain camp emerged in the mountains of Lombardy as the planet warms. As such, the warmer climes revealed historic clothes, postcards, and even canned goods.
After hundreds of thousands of fatalities on both sides, the outlet states The White War concluded on the Italian front. The conflict ended three years after it began, concluding on November 4th, 1918.