Italian Atrocities

Historical content: 
American Imperialism
Historical skills: 
Sourcing

Assessment

Directions: 

Read the passage below and answer the questions that follow.

Source: 

This is part of a news story reporting on claims of Italian atrocities during a conflict between Italy and the Ottoman Empire in North Africa in 1911-12. In that conflict, Italy won control of Libya.

"All Nations Criticize Italy's Murders," The Day Book of Chicago, November 4, 1911.
Source text: 

“Italian cruelties in [the North African city of] Tripoli and wholesale massacres of men, women and children by Italian troops in Northern Africa may lead shortly to a concerted demand by the powers that Italy observe the rules of civilized warfare. . . . England, in common with Germany and Austria, is preparing to notify Italy that her conduct of the war is intolerable. Austria, Italy's hereditary foe, is said to be on the point of threatening armed intervention if the murders are not stopped. Germany, always friendly to the Turks, is aroused at the reports of brutality.”

Question 1:  How might this news story be useful as evidence of what happened in the fighting between Italy and the Ottoman Empire in 1911-12?

Question 2:  What about this source might make it less useful as evidence of what happened in the fighting between Italy and the Ottoman Empire, 1911-12?

About the Assessment

Like the Slave Quarters assessment, this question requires students to consider the relative strengths and weaknesses of a document as historical evidence.  Students with a sophisticated understanding of how to source a document will be able to explain how a news article from the time provides a useful contemporary account of Italian actions against the Ottomon Empire.  They will also observe, however, that an international news report by a local American newspaper may contain biases and second-hand information which make it less useful as evidence of what really happened.