11 febbraio 2007

10th February - Remembering the foibe

My dad's family is from Fiume, now Rijeka. It was a multicultural city until the first years of the 1900, something like Instabul. A lot of ethnic groups, a lot of language, cultures, people, visitors,....
Fiume was a city by the sea, so it was a point of cross for sails, who were the main transport device at those times.
My family was Italian, or at least they felt so. My grand-dad's family was originarian of Potsam, a town near Berlin (Germany). His family went to Fiume 2 or more generations before he was born.
My grand-ma, Daria, was Italian. Grand-pa Arno married grand-ma Daria in the 1940's, during the II world war.

Since they were Italians, they had to move from Fiume to escape from the Yugoslavian communist Tito. He was the responsable of the foibe massacre. Foibe are deep sinkhole typical of that region where the Italians, or anyone against Tito's regime, was thrown. Alive or dead.

This is a typical foiba (see Wikipedia foiba for further details).

350.000 Italians left these zones (Istria and Dalmazia) to escape the foibe massacre. They came to Italy, USA, Australia, South America, Belgium,.... the spreaded across the world.
People from Fiume have strong bonds and still publish their own paper. The last survivors who can remember these facts are now 80-something.
Italy and Italian have always ignored these facts. You might wonder why....well, first of all, the left party was not proud of that question and tried to bury it. Then, compared to the nazist concentration camp, the foibe are smaller. But there were and shall not be forget.

In 2004 Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi recognized these facts and instituted a day to remember them. This day is the 10th February.

I am gonna write this post to spread the voice about this fact. Because it is important not to forget.

Here some text regarding this subject, taken from Wikipedia (you can read all the wiki text here)


Foibe are often referred to in the context of mass killings in which the majority of victims were ethnic Italians. Such mass killings were committed after the capitulation of Italy on September 8, 1943 and in 1945, when Yugoslav partisans under Josip Broz Tito's command entered Venezia Giulia and Dalmatia, and captured what had historically been a multiethnic borderland.

The number of victims is still unknown, difficult to establish and a matter of much controversy. According to data gathered by a mixed Slovene-Italian historical commission established in 1993, the number of people missing in the present-day Slovenian Istria and Trieste (believed to have been thrown into the foibe) range from 1,300 to 1,600. This estimate does not include those killed in current Croatian territory. Some prominent historians like Raoul Pupo or Roberto Spazzali estimated the total number of victims at about 5,000.

The main motive for the mass killings seems to have been a plan of political cleansing, that is to say, elimination of potential enemies of the communist Yugoslav rule, including members of German and Italian fascist units, Italian officers and civil servants, parts of the Italian elite who opposed both communism and fascism and even Slovenian and Croatian anti-communists.

Italian sources claim that ethnic cleansing was another motive, but some historians disagree with that statement.

[...] In fact the ethnic map of the area could potentially be a decisive factor in the post-War conferences and for this reason, according to some Italian historians, the reduction of the ethnic Italian population was held desirable. Therefore the policies of political cleansing are also considered instrumental in prompting the subsequent exodus, which drastically reduced the Italian population of Istria and Dalmatia between 1945 and 1947.

Investigations of the Foibe

The first claims of people being thrown into foibe date back to 1943, when the Wehrmacht took back the area from the partisans. Obviously, these first claims have since come under much scepticism, since they were likely to be at least exaggerated by Nazi Germany for propaganda purposes.

No investigation of the crimes had been initiated either by Italy, Yugoslavia or any international bodies in the post-war period, until after Slovenia became an independent country in 1991.

Post War silence

The Foibe have been a long-neglected subject in mainstream political debate, only recently garnering broader attention with the recent publication of several scholarly books and historical studies. It is thought that after World War II, politicians wanted to direct the country's attention toward the future and away from fascist crimes, subsuming the issue of the Foibe within this mass "forgetting".

Another reason for the neglect of the Foibe can be found in the high degree of ideology historically present in the public debate in Italy. Many Istrians concealed their origins for fear of being identified by other Italians, who tended to believe that all Italian Istrians who left after the war had cooperated with the Fascists.

Reemergence of the Foibe issue

Since the end of the Cold War, and more recently under the Presidency of Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, the historical debate has begun to take on a less ideological tone. The coalition of Silvio Berlusconi brought the issue back into open discussion: the Italian Parliament (with the support of the vast majority of the represented parties) made February 10 National Memorial Day of the Exiles and Foibe, first celebrated in 2005 with exhibitions and observances throughout Italy (especially in Trieste)

3 commenti:

  1. I had never heard of this! Brava for posting this and telling the story of the foibe. I'll put something on my blog too, but in due time, as I'm thinking to combine it with a post about Italian-Americans being placed in concentration camps in the US--something else that's often conveniently forgotten by the powers that be. This type of history is so important to remember.

  2. I'm looking forward to read on your blog about it since I've never heard of it before!

  3. We talked about it, but I didn't know your family's origins...
    I think you did a great work posting these info, spread knowledge about this crime!
    Keep it up!


Di' la tua / Say yours!