The Second Battle of the Piave River, fought between 15 and 23 June 1918, was a decisive victory for the Italian Army against the Austro-Hungarian Empire during World War I. Though the battle proved to be a decisive blow to the Austro-Hungarian Empire and by extension the Central Powers, its full significance was not initially appreciated in Italy. Yet Erich Ludendorff, on hearing the news, is reported to have said he 'had the sensation of defeat for the first time'. It would later become clear that the battle was in fact the beginning of the end of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
With the exit of Russia from the war in 1917, Austria-Hungary was now able to devote significant forces to the Italian Front and to receive reinforcements from their German allies. The Austro-Hungarian emperor Karl had reached an agreement with the Germans to undertake a new offensive against Italy, a move supported by both the chief of the general staff Arthur Arz von Straußenburg and the commander of the South Tyrolean Army Group Conrad von Hötzendorf. In the autumn of 1917, the Germans and Austrians had defeated the Italians at the Battle of Caporetto. After Caporetto, the Italians fell back to the Piave and were reinforced by six French infantry divisions and five British infantry divisions as well as sizeable air contingents.
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