The war on the front was harsh, but the daily life of prisoners who found themselves living sometimes in conditions of extreme existential precariousness was much harsher. Many spontaneously surrendered themselves to the enemy in the expectation of a better treatment and thus found themselves living in labour camps or being used for various jobs. The fate of many Austro-Hungarian prisoners and with them of Slavs, Russians and other nationalities who were involved in the First World War was marked by long displacements close to the front along which a war of positioning was fought, with advances of some tens of meters at a time and retreats of the same distance, along a stretch of border that suddenly became redeemed land or land disputed with the hated enemy. The increasingly rare testimonies, and the analysis of specialist archive material, despite being scanty in nature, nevertheless offer interesting insights to reconstruct stories which were never narrated and add small, significant details of a story that has not been fully clarified in historiography. Statistical data are missing on the use of many military prisoners in Italy whose fate is still unknown today. Their use in the northern Italian territories, and above all in the Veneto-Friuli area, was mostly of an agricultural and logistic type in the construction of bridges and roads. It is possible that in the future other studies can reveal new details about their activities and offer researchers further elements to reconstruct the map of their movements and their use in Italian territories.
Keywords: World War I, Prisoners, Slavs, Russians, diplomacy