Enlisted as a cadet at the beginning of the war in 1914 […] and deployed to the Carpathian front, [Guido Brunner] deserted in March 1915 close to Venice and became a cavalry second lieutenant in the Italian army.
His father Rodolfo Brunner belongs to Trieste’s powerful Brunner family, whose members are without exception most loyal followers of the Kaiser and the state. Rodolfo Brunner too is a proven patriot with unquestionable Austrian sentiment, he always acted accordingly and never shied away from any sacrifice useful to support a patriotic endeavour. His son’s desertion caused him great desperation. He sent his wife and his brother to Venice to command him to come back home and, when he did not arrive, he took his family to his estate in Cavenzano di Campolongo (Austrian Friuli) to avoid everyone and hear nothing. At the outbreak of war with Italy, he could not escape in time, so he became a prisoner of the Italians and was confined. This way, he was compromised as a father, while he was also wanted for the call to arms for his officer rank, in spite of his 57 years of age: this way he hoped to atone for the shame of his son.
The young man’s desertion is to be ascribed exclusively to the politically corrupting influence of his uncle, Salvatore Segrè.
[ASTS, Imperial Regia Direzione di Polizia, b. 399, 1916, K.K. 5 Armee-Kommando, Trieste 3 luglio 1916, cit. in Millo, L’elite del potere, p. 223]
Rodolfo Brunner descended from a family hailing from Western Austria that made its fortunes in the textile industry. He married Gina Segrè, the pro-Italian sister of the famous financier and irredentist Salvatore. Landowner, industrialist, financier, Rodolfo was one of the richest and most influential men in Trieste on the eve of the First World War.
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