Social Science


Did Art by Western Front Soldier Predict the Russian Revolution? The Secret History of the ‘Guerra alla Guerra’ Peace Postcards

Authors: John Paull

The allegorical artwork ‘Guerra alla Guerrra’ (War against War) was created by the Italian-Australian artist Ernesto Genoni (1885-1975). It features a young woman wrapped in red and rising out of a battlefield. Her wrap billows over the war-scape to form a massive red flag. The work was published in 1916 as a postcard by the Milan-based Pro Umanità organisation headed by Rosa Genoni. During 1916, Ernesto Genoni enlisted as a volunteer in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) and he served on the Western Front as a stretcher bearer. By the end of 1916 he had been plucked off the battlefield and conscripted into the Italian Army where he refused to take the oath of allegiance. He subsequently served time in several military prisons for insubordination and as a medical orderly in the Italian military hospital in Verona.The ‘Guerra alla Guerra’ postcards were sold in Italy and Australia to fund the war-relief work of Pro Umanità of feeding POWs and supporting widows and orphans in Europe in the wake of the catastrophe of the First World War. ‘Guerra alla Guerrra’ was prescient in that it appears to illustrate the spirit of revolution growing out of the devastation of war. The following year the Russian Revolution overthrew the Czarist regime (in 1917). By the close of WW1 in 1918 the talk of revolution and its threat to the ‘established order’ was rife throughout Europe. The original artwork has not been located. The postcard was reproduced for the 2018 centenary of the Armistice of 11 November 1918.

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[v1] 2019-01-09 20:45:39

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