Wednesday, November 7, 2018

ISRAELI NAVY CREATION & THE CIVITAVECCHIA MARITIME SCHOOL

A topic that is not well studied by academics is the Israeli Navy creation -thanks to the "Civitavecchia Maritime School" (called sometimes in Israel: "Betar Navy Academy")- with help from Fascist Italy in the 1930s. Many of us don't know that Mussolini had links with the Jewish of Italy, when he started his political movement that was later called "Fascism".

In October 1933 there were 4920 Italian Jews who were members of the Italian Fascist Party, nearly 10% of all the Jews living in Italy (please read the interesting essay in Italian:http://www.storiaxxisecolo.it/fascismo/fascismo18.htm).

Jewish Cadets of the Civitavecchia Maritime School near the "Sarah I" stern in 1937
Indeed one of the main fascist authorities was Maurizio Rava, who was governor of Italian Somalia. He was one of the many members of the "Fascist Party" (like Italo Balbo, Gabriele D'Annunzio, Guglielmo Marconi, Giovanni Gentile, to name a few of the most important) who did not like -and tried to reject, but sadly failed- the Mussolini union with the Hitler Nazism after 1936.

Maurizio Rava was born in a Jewish family in Milan. He enthusiastically joined the "National Fascist Party" ('Partito Fascista' in Italian language) during World War I: in 1919 he was a cofounder of the "Fascio" of Roma. In the 1920s Rava was vice-Governor of Italian Libya and a general in the fascist militia. From 1 July 1931 to 6 March 1935 Rava was the "Governor" of Italian Somalia. But in the late 1930s he faced problems within the party because of Nazi Germany's influences against Italian Jews. However he was always respected by the fascists (read: http://www.treccani.it/enciclopedia/maurizio-rava_(Dizionario-Biografico)/ ). After being nominated "senator", he died in 1941 because of wounds received in Italian Libya, when was a general of brigade fighting the British. In the last years of his life he was very close to Italo Balbo (the second in charge in fascist Italy after Mussolini) and promoted some links with the Israeli Navy.

Links to Jabotinsky Revisionism

Indeed Rava was linked to Jabotinsky (the main leader of the "Zionist Revisionism") who promoted the "Betar" (youth organization of the Revisionism) and who did the 1931 Betar Conference where was decided to promote the so called "maritime idea" of the 'Rodegal association' (read in Italian: http://www.effedieffe.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=30882:lasse-roma-berlino-tel-aviv-parte-ii&catid=24&Itemid=143 ). In this conference the captain Irmiyahu Helpern was allowed to create a jewish "group for maritime selfdefense", that was to be prepared in the Italian navy school of Civitavecchia (located near Rome). Maurizio Bendes, responsible for the Betar in Italy, started to contact the Italian authorities for the authorization to open a section school for Jews in the Civitavecchia military compound.

The Jewish Italian Revisionists obtained the official approval from the Italian admiral Thaon de Revel in January 1935. The same Mussolini agreed with this request since early 1934 and welcomed the contacts with the Jewish organizations (previously he had met 3 times with the Jewish leader Chaim Weizmann). Mussolini never met Jabotinski (who has been a student at the Sapienza University of Rome law school and always showed sympathies for the Italian Fascism before it suffered the influence of Hitler). Jabotinski ordered to the young Jewish members of the "Betar" the use of "brown shirts" similar to the "black shirts" of Mussolini, and was nicknamed the "Revisionism Duce" (LEONE CARPI, "Come e dove rinacque la Marina d'Israele, la scuola marittima del Bethar a Civitavecchia" - Nemi, Roma 1965)

Jewish Cadets over the Sarah I masts in the 1938 Tunisia voyage


In 1933 the Italian Foreign ministry (Mussolini was also Foreign Minister) began writing documents arguing that a possible Jewish state would be in the Kingdom of Italy's best interests, against British control of Palestine and the Middle East .

Although Jabotinsky had still not been able to arrange a meeting with Mussolini it became clear that the Italian government did view the Revisionists as potential ideological partners at the end of 1933. It was this change that facilitated the creation of the Betar Naval Academy in the Italian port city of Civitavecchia.

Nicola Fusco, the nominal head of the Academy, was administrative secretary of the local Fascist Party and the relationship between the cadets and the fascist establishment was close.

Indeed Alberto Bianco in 2003 wrote the « Les Sionistes Révisionnistes et l’Italie » (Bulletin du Centre de recherche français à Jerusalem: https://journals.openedition.org/bcrfj/136 ), showing clearly this relationship. The following are excerpts translated from French:
Moreover, Jabotinsky wants the cruise to serve the propaganda of the Jewish Navy. He is convinced that it is in the interest of the Italian government that this cruise be conducted under the auspices of the fascist regime. But he is also aware that after the problems have occurred, it is necessary to obtain the agreement of the authorities before starting this second trip. The Directorate General of the Merchant Navy asks for the authorization, informing the excellent results obtained by the students and the extreme recognition of the young of the Betar with regard to the regime. In addition, she asks that the students can cruise aboard the Sara I along the Italian coast, stopping only in the foreign ports of Nice and Marseille. She also recalled that previous trips made in April 1936 had not caused any problem. Mussolini gives his authorization on October 20, 1936. The start of the second cruise also looks like a grand ceremony. The speech delivered by Isacco Sciaky is indicative of his attachment to Zionism and fascism: "Students! Greet the Italian flag flying on your Jewish boat. Always remember what Fascist Italy has given you!...The waters of "Mare Judaicum" will mix amicably with the waters of the "Mare Nostrum" of Italy

Brief History of the Academy

In October 1934, the first 28 Jewish official students arrived in Civitavecchia to be trained in the Maritime School; in the next three years there will be almost 200 graduates. On the uniforms they carried an anchor, the Menorah (the seven-branched candlestick) and the lictorian bundle, and in some official ceremonies they hailed in Roman style, as recalled by the then group leader Avram Blass, later become admiral of the Israeli Navy.

In 1936 the Second Course began, inaugurated by the Chief Rabbi of Rome. Meanwhile, a 60-meter motor sailboat was also purchased, the 'Quattro Venti', renamed "Sarah I", which in the summer of that same year sailed towards Palestine, where it was welcomed with great celebrations by the Jewish community. It is the first merchant of the modern history of Israel.

The "Sarah I" in the Mediterranean sea in 1938

First commander of the "Sara I" was a professor of the school, Tiberio Paone. The second course was inaugurated on March 29, 1936, in the presence of the Chief Rabbi of Rome. The members increase considerably, going up to 52, with the Poles who were the largest group. The second educational cruise is limited to the Italian ports and the French airports of Nice and Marseille.

In February 1937, Commander Fusco was invited to London to meet with the leaders of the Zionist movement, including Jabotinsky, and some businessmen. There was a discussion about the creation of a Jewish fishing port to exploit the sea in front of the coasts of Palestine.

The third course opened in February 1937 with about seventy students. In the lessons were introduced fishing concepts. In order for the students to receive practical fishing lessons, a trawler, renamed "Neca", was purchased at a judicial auction in Porto Santo Stefano. It was then joined by a smaller one, the "Lea". The cruise of summer 1937 had Palestine as a destination, where at the arrival of "Sarah I" grand celebrations were unleashed in honor of the students of the school. The Palestine Post reported that visitors from Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and the settlements visited the ship to greet the "Jewish seagoing pioneers".

But in 1938 the school had to close after the fourth course was held. The sad reason: Mussolini government has now changed its political acceptance towards Judaism, under the terrible influence of Adolf Hitler and his Nazism. But the courses were very successful and the Revisionists also contacted in December 1935 and in April 1937 the Italian consulate in Haifa to see if they could send some youths to train with the Italian air Force (The Jews in Fascist Italy; p.262 https://books.google.com/books?id=U0zfCgAAQBAJ&pg=PT262&lpg=PT262&dq=la+scuola+marittima+del+bethar+a+civitavecchia&source=bl&ots=Brdvr98pZp&sig=Ixi5wYW3eR0EXSDNlL2UDSAU_ZI&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwju1rGvtL7eAhWB71MKHcf9AOkQ6AEwCXoECAoQAQ#v=onepage&q=la%20scuola%20marittima%20del%20bethar%20a%20civitavecchia&f=false )

Future commanders of Israeli Navy and the start of "Skayetet 13"

However in those few years the Academy trained nearly 200 Jewish cadets from all over Europe, Palestine and South Africa and produced some of the future commanders of the Israeli Navy.

A few of these cadets were successively trained by an Italian fascist sailor named Fiorenzo Capriotti to use Italian explosive motorboats and obtained an important sinking during the 1948 Israeli war of independence: the Israelis deployed an underwater demolition commando unit with high speed torpedo boats, that was the first military action of the special unit called "Skayetet 13".

Indeed in late October 1948, the Israeli Navy performed a feat of daring and resourcefulness. For some days a flotilla of Egyptian vessels had been coming very close to the Tel-Aviv coastline. This included the flagship of the Egyptian Navy, the "Emir Farouk". For a number of days the Israeli and Egyptian Navies had been acting in a threatening manner which was liable to escalate at any time. This mini-escalation took place amidst the largest israeli offensive of the war -Opeation Yoav, which was a major Israeli advance into the Negev, all the way down to Eilat and the Red Sea. The Emir Farouk's actions were seen as a threat to Operation Yoav and the Israel General Staff ordered action. The Emir Farouk was to be sunk.

Photo showing the Italian explosive motorboats used to sink the "Emir Farouk"
We have to pinpoint that in March 1948 David Ben-Gurion ordered Ze'ev HaYam (literally, "Sea Wolf"), one of the main figures in Israel's early navy and merchant marine, to go to Italy to find ships that could be procured for the naval service. While Ze'ev HaYam procured two large motor boats and two landing craft, he wanted to acquire the Decima Flottiglia MAS's MT explosive motorboats that had been used in the "Raid on Souda Bay (Crete)" to ram into and destroy larger ships. Ze'ev HaYam believed that these boats could turn the tide of the war. With the help of a relative and Ben-Gurion's consent, he bought six refurbished boats for $3,000 each from an ailing Italian factory, and while the factory owners were told what the boats were for, to the outside they were disguised as racing boats. In June the MT explosive motorboats were deployed in the "Sea of Galilea" lake and there Capriotti (who had received a silver medal for sinking a British destroyer in 1941 using these boats) trained a "commando" group of Israelis to use this navy weapon.

However this would not be an easy operation. The Emir Farouk moved about with two ships for escort, including a minesweeper, "and both usually stayed within protective range of coastal batteries." The small Israeli Navy could not sink it with conventional methods. So, a small assault force would have to be found: it was - a specially trained group of naval commandos using special Italian torpedo-ships.

They had four specially designed crafts filled with explosives which were intended to carry their operator to within 100 yards of their target. From there, the operator would aim his craft at the enemy ship, set the ship speeding off towards its target, and then seconds later, jump out, his legs attached to a flotation device. From there the craft worked something like a torpedo.

On October 22, 1948 the four boats were assembled for action. The first one took aim, fired, and the operator ejected well before the boat struck the Emir Farouk and detonated. The operator was safe, and the Emir Farouk was now badly damaged, but not destroyed. A second boat opted to have another go at the Emir Farouk. The impact and detonation broke the ship in two. Minutes later, it sank.

This was a tremendous feat for the young Israeli Navy.

Some years later, Capriotti was awarded by Israeli authorities, even if he has recently been a member of the neofascist party of Italy called MSI (Fiorenzo Capriotti, "Diario di un fascista alla Corte di Gerusalemme", 2002).

Wikipedia article

The following are excerpts taken from the Wikipedia article "Betar Naval Academy":

"The Revisionists and Italy"

Italy was a source of ideological, historical and cultural inspiration for the Zionist Revisionists of the 1920s and 1930s.The country under Mussolini was seen as a historical reminder of the roots of the Jewish people and as a contemporary example of a once glorious culture reclaiming its role in the world through the affirmation of power and national pride. From the early 1930s onwards Jabotinsky believed that the United Kingdom could no longer be trusted to advance the Zionist cause and that Italy, as a growing power capable of challenging Britain for dominance in the region, was a natural ally. Jabotinsky had been scheduled to meet Benito Mussolini as early as 1922, but for various reasons the meeting did not take place. However, in a letter to Mussolini, Jabotinsky attempted to win his support for the Zionist cause by arguing that for cultural reasons Italy's pro-Arab policy was misguided.Jabotinsky predicted that Italy and the Arabs would inevitably come into conflict and that a Jewish state in the Middle East could act as a buffer between Europe, Asia and Africa. In the second half of the 1920s Revisionism became a growing force among Italian Zionists and the first branch of the movement, the Raggruppamento d'Italia, was founded in 1925. In 1930 the first issues of Leone Carpi's L'Idea Sionistica advanced an anti-British stance and in 1932 the first Revisionist Zionist conference in Italy took place in Milan.

"Mussolini and the Revisionists"

In 1933 the Italian foreign ministry (Mussolini was also foreign minister) began circulating internal policy documents arguing that a strong Jewish state would be in Italy's best interests. Although Jabotinsky had still not been able to arrange a meeting with Mussolini it became clear that the Italian government did view the Revisionists as potential ideological partners. It was this change that facilitated the creation of the Betar Naval Academy in the Italian port city of Civitavecchia. Nicola Fusco, the nominal head of the Academy, was administrative secretary of the local Fascist Party and the relationship between the cadets and the fascist establishment was close. This was perhaps seen most clearly following the drowning of a cadet in 1935. On 28 May 1935 the Italian newspaper Popolo di Roma's report on the funeral ceremony illustrated the closeness of the relationship: an emotional commemoration took place on board the Italian ship the Domenico, which was flying its flag at half mast; all of the cadets were present, as were Halpern, Fusco, the mayor's representative, the port supervisor and all of the cadets from Lazio naval academy. The paper reported: "In the place where the accident occurred, the dead cadet's comrades prayed according to their own tradition, performed a military ceremony, and tossed a bouquet of flowers to the sea. All who were present then performed the Saluto Romano with their heads uncovered." In a clear expression of the solidarity between the Revisionist Academy and the Italian military the official publication of the Italian professional maritime schools, the Bollettino del Consorzio Scuole Profesionali per la Maestranza Maritima, stated, "In agreement of all the relevant authorities it has been confirmed that the views and the political and social inclinations of the Revisionists are known and that they are absolutely in accordance with the fascist doctrine. Therefore, as our students they will bring the Italian and fascist culture to Palestine."

Sunday, October 7, 2018

THE DISAPPEARANCE OF THE DALMATIAN ITALIANS: AN ETHNOCIDE?

Dalmatia is a region south of the Istria peninsula that was populated by fully Romanized Illirians at the end of the Western Roman Empire. These neolatin inhabitants in the early Middle Ages created the Dalmatian City-States, later assimilated by the Republic of Venice and so fully Italianized: this continuity of Dalmatia's Italians was antagonized since the seventh century by the Slavs, who slowly made disappear -for a group of reasons and circumstances- those Dalmatian Italians. But before their disappearance there were important Dalmatian Italians in History: Niccolo Tommaseo (the creator of the first Italian dictionary was born in Sebenico), Antonio Bajamonti (the famous 1865-1880 mayor of "Spalato italiana", who desperately tried to save the historical Italian rule of his city), Arturo Colautti (a famous journalist/writer who was one of the first supporters of the union of Dalmatia to Italy), Antonio Tacconi (leader of Italian irredentism who masterminded the creation of the "Governorato di Dalmazia") and many others left their legacy in the history of the Italian people.

Historically the disappearance started with the barbarian invasions (of the Avars and Slavs) of the eight century, that forced the autochthonous population of the Roman Dalmatians to take refuge in the Dalmatian islands and in some city-islands near the coast (like Ragusa, Trau and Zara, now called Dubrovnik, Trogir and Zadar). These "Adriatic" areas were nearly all romance-speaking until the "Duecento" (XIII century), when started the Ottoman invasion of the Balkan peninsula. Since then the Republic of Venice -that ruled the region until the Dinaric Alps for many centuries- was forced to accept many refugees (mostly Slavs, but also a lot of Slavicized Vlachs called "Morlachs") from the Muslim conquered regions of the western Balkans and soon the newly arrived become majority in the coastal region. When Napoleon conquered the Republic of Venice in 1797, the Italian linguist Bartoli calculated that in the "Dalmatian Venetia" more than two thirds of the population was Croatian speaking (with pockets of Serbian speaking areas): the Dalmatian Italians were a minority of less than 33% of the total Dalmatian population and were concentrated in the main cities. Because of higher fertility rate and further emigration toward the relatively rich and developed Dalmatian coast from the poor inland mountain regions, the Slavs in the first half of the XIX century become more than 80% of the Dalmatian population. The Austrian census done in 1857 registered -south of the Quarnero islands (Cherso, Lussino, Veglia and Arbe, now called Chres, Losinj, Krk and Rab)- 45,000 Dalmatian Italians (nearly all in the islands and in the main cities, where they were the majority in some towns like Zara and Veglia) and 369,310 Slavs: the romance speaking population of coastal Dalmatia was reduced to less than 20%! Since then started to appear the Croatian nationalism, soon in fight with the Italian nationalism: in one century and half of wars and political battles of every kind the Dalmatian Italians disappeared (being reduced in the Croatian census of 2011 to a few hundreds in an area that has nearly one million inhabitants!). This fact has originated the suspicion that the disappearance of the Dalmatian Italians could be related to an "ethnocide" (read in Italian: http://www.mlhistria.altervista.org/storiaecultura/testiedocumenti/tesiscaglioni/tesi.htm).

There it is in Italian language an interesting essay (of the Italian "National League") about the Italians of Dalmatia, which documents in quite detail their process of disappearance first under Austria and then under Yugoslavia. Here it the translation in English language:

=========================================================================

THE DISAPPEARANCE OF THE ITALIANS IN DALMATIA

Premise

Venice, after the year 1000 AD, for three centuries had made its presence in Dalmatia every year more and more incisive, although opposed by the rebellions of the coastal "neolatin" Dalmatian cities and by the pretensions of Hungary. So from 1409 - with the Venice's "Santa Intrada", meaning "saint entrance" in Dalmatia as it will be remembered - until 1797 Venice exercised continuously the full sovereignty on nearly all the Dalmatia coast from the Istria peninsula until what is now the coast of Montenegro.

Niccolo Tommaseo (Sebenico 1802-1874), father of Italian linguistics
During the four centuries of its undisputed dominion, the Republic of Venice with the "cagnide morlacche" (or vlachs slavicised soldiers)- which over time would have been transformed into the Slav militia - had rejected the Turks (wars of Candia and Morea) who were also pressing along the chain of the Bedie Alps (Velebit) and of the Dinarics mountains.

In those territories devastated by the Ottoman raids that came under the walls of Zara, depopulated by wars & famine, the Venetian Republic granted hospitality and assigned fields and lands to Bosnians, Vlach "Morlacchi", Erzegovesi and Serbs who escaped from the Turk.

While the cities along the coast preserved their "Venetianity" and their autochthonous romance language, the countryside became the seat of Slav populations who -progressively, entering in contact with the inhabitants of the maritime centers- adapted themselves to the local customs and rules (but maintained their Slav language). By the XVII century because of huge demographic increase the Slavs were soon majority, outnumbering -in the "Venetian Dalmatia" - the autochthonous Dalmatian Italians outside of the main cities.

Some venetians -and Italians- moved to live in Dalmatia in those centuries and helped to assimilate the Dalmatian neolatins inside the Italian cultural world that was experiencing the "Rinascimento" (Italian Renaissance), but their presence was only in the main cities and in some islands (like Lissa and those of the Quarnaro), while minimal in the countryside distant from the coast.

The first 40 years of Austrian domination

Two hundred years ago, Dalmatia with the Treaty of Campoformio (1797) passed to Austria which, excluding the French parenthesis (1806-1813) when Dalmatia was part of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy, would remain there until November 4, 1918.

Vienna, in the first forty years respected the Venetianness of this province, and administered it like the other Italian possessions of the Monarchy.

In May 1818, the "Council of Government of Dalmatia", while noting that "the inhabitants of the mountainous area and those of the maritime side were profoundly dissimilar for their customs, inclinations, occupations, aspects, and language", instead of administering with a military government - as proposed by Vienna - and the others with a civilian one, promoted the opportunity to "blend in a homogeneous people the two indigenous peoples so deeply alien from each other".

On 4 August 1821, with Sovereign Resolution, the Emperor dispose that the Municipalities of Dalmatia - with the exclusion of the Càttaro circle - were governed by structures and with similar criteria to those of the Municipalities of Lombardy-Veneto.The discussion of how much administrative interest was in Dalmatia was the responsibility of the "Aulica Chancellery for the affairs of Italy", and the laws and decrees carried the words: "Valid for the Kingdom of Lombard Veneto and Dalmatia".

The events of 1848

The first turning point in the history of Italians in Dalmatia occurred in 1848 with the affirmation of the principle of nationality.

In that year, the Venetian-Dalmatians loyal to San Marco (I "Marcolini") heard the call of the reborn Republic and participated in the defense of Venice enlisting in a military unit, the "Istrian-Dalmatian Legion". They were over three hundred. They came from all the cities of the coast and with them, from the Dinaric mountains inside Dalmatia, also sons and nephews of the faithful Schiavoni of 1797.They not only fought - [six died] - but assumed the highest responsibilities. - Niccolò Tommaseo from Sebenico and Leone Graziani from Spalato were triumviris. The Marquis Paulucci delle Roncole, from Zara, became minister of the Navy, then of the War. Matteo Ballovich from Perasto, superintendent of the Navy. Enrico Germani, from Sebenico, transport commander and member of the War Council. Vincenzo Solitro, from Spalato, member of the Assembly. Angelo Minich, from Cattaro, Head of the health service.

Four were the Dalmatians "proscribed" by Austria - Niccolò Tommaseo from Sebenico, Don Luca Lazaneo from Brazza, Count Demetrio Mircovich from Bocche di Cattaro, Federico Seismit-Doda from Ragusa.

In 1848, at the same time, Austria had the "insurrection of Vienna", with the request of constitutional laws and freedom of the press.In those years (1848-1849), despite exceptional ferments, while the Dalmatian-Venetians fought in Venice, and in the cities of the coast was constituted the "Civic Guard" which raised the Tricolor as its flag, the Dalmatian Croats with the the exception of some intellectuals abstained from any political activity.

On the other hand were very active those from Zagreb, where the "Illirism" of Gaj and Count Draskovic, as well as the theories of an "historical law" in support of an alleged "Trialistic Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia-Dalmatia", had found a more fertile ground.In Vienna, on March 17, 1848, Emperor Ferdinand granted the Constitution. Eight days later, the Croats in Zagreb, meeting in their Assembly, approved the so-called "national program". At the third point the union of Dalmatia was requested for Croatia.The Municipality of Spalato, as soon as it knew the content of the "national program", addressed a "supplication" to the Emperor asking that "Dalmatia, which for more than six centuries has always been treated, and also treats its public affairs, in Italian language, - that is taught in schools and is spoken and written almost exclusively in all the towns and villages of the coast and the islands and also in many Mediterranean countries - and in which there are everywhere, especially in the cities, families of Italian origin with customs and Italian customs, it could only be part of the Italian Section of Austrian State".

The Croats presented the "national program" to the Emperor on March 31st. Immediately also the Dalmatians-Italians present in Vienna, with an "address" to the Sovereign protested "against any proposal or deliberate that it was done in the name of Dalmatia, without the intervention of people appointed by it to legally represent it".

Despite the protests, on 19 December of that same year, the Banal Conference of Zagreb sent an "address" to all the Municipalities of Dalmatia, and its appeal to the union ended with the following words: "But you brothers and neighbors of italic idiom, that Dalmatia call your homeland, do not see in us Croat your enemies. We not even from a distance intend to touch your language, your customs, your rights, nor your statutes. Our sacred rights are sacred to us, therefore there must also be yours ". And they added: "We see in you the pleasant intermediators between our Slav nation and the brilliant Italy, to whom we have much to thank for our and for the Dalmatian shoreline. ... You have scattered among us many good germs, and we are grateful to you, for the Slavic can not be ungrateful."

It was the beginning of the struggle between Croatian "unionists" and Italian "autonomists", (and additionally a Croatian autonomous component) and until 1859/60, the Croatians of Zagreb were the antagonists.

The second turning point of the events in Dalmatia began with 1860. Austria, in that year, had lost Lombardy. In 1861 a new constitution was given. In 1866 also the Veneto was lost. The following year - 1867 - the unitary Austrian Empire was transformed into the dualistic State of Austria-Hungary (Ausgleich).But above all, the exit from the "Germanic Confederation" would have diverted Vienna's interests towards the Balkans. Becoming a Danubian power the Viennese rulers would have had to deal with the Croatian-Slavic component of their Empire.

Antonio Bajamonti (1822-1891), the best Italian major of Spalato
The events of those years, and above all the establishment of the double monarchy, gave the Croatians new pretexts to demand the annexation of Dalmatia. Boasting the so-called "Historical law" they proposed themselves as the third state of the Empire, in equal position with Vienna and Budapest.

But to have greater contractual force they had to make feel the weight of their number. And the 384,000 Croats, present in Dalmatia according to the census done in 1857, were more and more important to their opinion. But those Croats were administered by an Italian minority that - according to official statistics - amounted to only 45,000 people south of the Quarnaro area (https://books.google.cl/books?id=r60EAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA38&dq=%C3%96sterreichisches+K%C3%BCstenland&as_brr=1&hl=de#v=onepage&q&f=false ).

Even if though they constituted 12.5 percent of the Dalmatia's population (or nearly 20% if added Fiume (actual Rijeka) and the Quarnaro islands Cherso/Lussino/Veglia/Arbe), they were the most socially qualified, the most educated part, its economic activities, its extensive land holdings, its capitals. Above all - the Dalmatian Italians administered the 84 municipalities of the province.It was - in every sense - the actual ruling class. And locally the Croats willingly gave them a large mandate. For a deep-rooted respect towards the heirs of the Venetian counts, towards the traditional families. For their capacity. For habit.

Italian autonomists and Croatian annexionists

Zagreb, to undermine the Italian minority, was to make the Dalmatian Croats understand the importance of annexation. Hence the need to reduce or - possibly - to exclude Italian pre-eminence.It was a program that came in tune with the policy of Vienna, aimed at controlling Italian nationalism but also controlling the power of the Kingdom of Hungary. In fact, Croatia belonged to the Hungarian Kingdom, while Istria and Dalmatia responded to Vienna (the Austrian part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire). The annexation of Dalmatia in Zagreb would have, therefore, unbalanced the relations of forces in the Empire.

For Austria, after the establishment of the Kingdom of Italy (1861), it was essential to control and condition the Italians who were within their borders - in Trentino, in Istria, in Dalmatia. They felt too much the call of national and unitary values ​​that had animated the Italian Risorgimento.If for Vienna, the Italian minority in Dalmatia was part of a wider problem of international order, for Zagreb it constituted a question of internal order with constitutional significance.Different motivations and interests, but the goal was common.The constitutional changes introduced by Austria in 1860 included the establishment of Provincial Diets on an elective basis. Democratically, even if still in a limited way, they represented the popular will but, at the same time, and for the first time, involved the counting of the number that formed the groups.The antagonists were counted and were counted. The statistics came into play. And the contrast that had taken place on an institutional level will, from now on, be decided by the ballots.

The Dalmatian Diet was inaugurated on April 8th, 1861. Thirty Italian deputies, eleven Croatians. The Catholic and Orthodox bishops were part of the law. At the April 18 session, the government representative asked that the question of the annexation of Dalmatia to Croatia be discussed and requested the sending of a Delegation to Zagreb. The proposal was rejected with the unanimous vote of Italian deputies. The Croatian minority left for Vienna to protest to the Emperor. An Italian delegation immediately followed her and she was able to get the legitimacy of the vote cast. But Zagreb did not give up.

In September, autonomously, the Croatian minority presented to the Emperor an "address" to ask for the annexation. Francesco Giuseppe with the 'Sovereign Rescript' of 8 November postponed any decision until the problems with Zagreb were resolved in their entirety (parity of Croatia with Vienna and Budapest). That Rescript, however, on the issue of annexation explicitly stated that: "In any case, it would have been necessary to take into account the diversity of the national origin of the two regions, Dalmatia and Croatia, the divergence of their political viewpoints, the differences between them". Decisions that allowed Vienna not to officially take any decision.

But the Austrian Government - in daily practice - supported the Croats, even in their own interests.

In the fight against that Italian minority - which from 1861 until 1870 would consistently express the majority to the Council of the Empire, the Dalmatian Diet, in all 84 Dalmatian Municipalities - Vienna several times changed the electoral districts. Between 1873 and 1893 the Austrians created five new municipalities, and their institution changed the numerical and political relations also in other ten or fifteen Municipalities, from which the new ones had been cut out.

Vienna also promoted the use of Croatian teachers to educate the masses, mobilized the clergy to influence the population. From 1870 onwards the Italian minority progressively lost its deputies in the Council of the Empire. From 1882, the Dalmatian Diet, the president, the vice-president, and the councilors, would have been Croats. Italian administrations fell into all the Municipalities (like in the island of Lissa where only 50 years before they were nearly 80% of the inhabitants, read http://brunodam.blog.kataweb.it/2013/09/04/lissa-unaltra-perfetta-pulizia-etnica/ ), minus Zara.

Arturo Colautti (1851-1914), journalist/writer born in Zara

Statistics

In these same years the statistics recorded heavy regresses in the number of Italians. From 55,000 (including the Quarner islands) of the 1865 census they passed to 27,305 in the 1880 census. To fall to a minimum of 15,279 in 1900 and, inexplicably, go back to 18,028 in 1910.If the electoral defeats could be explained by the presence of the political scenes of their new men, [Constantine Vojnovic, Gaetano Bulat, Joseph Smodlaka], with the support of the Government, however falcidia remains incomprehensible of the number.

Because, in fifteen years, a community of 55,000 people, historically rooted in the territory, is reduced by almost 50 percent, falling to 27.305 units, one should think of epidemics, mass emigration, or massive change of ethnic identity when the struggle became more heated. But no source validates similar hypotheses. Instead, the reasonable doubt arose of a deliberate manipulation of numbers.

It is sufficient to show the date of the 1880 census with a document from 1887 - "Situation of the language of service in all the Municipalities of Dalmatia" ('Ausweis der Dienstesprache sämmtlicher Gemeinden Dalmatiens') - compiled for the use of the Lieutenancy of Dalmatia.The table shows that, in the 84 Municipalities, 19 had the Italian language as their office language, 26 were bilingual (of which 3 with prevalence of Italian and 9 of Croatian) and 39 used the Slavic language.In other words, the Italian language was used in 23 percent of the Municipalities (16 percent of the population). By sharing the bilingual common interest, the percentage reached 40 percent of the "Comuni" (Municipalities).

It was not possible, therefore, that the Italians constituted - as was apparent from the censuses - only the 5.8 % of the population in 1880, and furthermore impossible the 3.1 % in 1890. It was difficult to admit that a municipality of 16,000 inhabitants such as Trau (now called Trogir), tin order to administer 171 Italians (as indicated in the 1890 census), would have employed the Italian language in the offices. The same difficulty to admit applied for Còmisa with 52 Italians on a population of about 4,500 people. Or for Lissa who would have had 300 Italians out of 5,000 inhabitants, and so on.

Rise of Croatian nationalism

The Croats, having obtained the majority of the Dalmatian diet, did not insist on the annexation, although they ritually raised the question almost at each new session. But, since the Sovereign Resolution of Francesco Giuseppe of 1861, they had mobilized to de-nationalize (with the process of croatization) what was Italian.

To do the croatization meant to fight - in particular - against the use of the Italian language, which in Dalmatia had been and was the basis of living.

Austria, in 1813, assuming - after the Napoleonic period - full sovereignty over Dalmatia, had found that Italian as well as being the common language, was also the language of all administrations. Consequently, in 1815, he ordered that the judicial proceedings - as in the Lombardy-Veneto region - be treated only in Italian. Similarly, the notaries, according to the regulation of February 15th, 1827, had to formulate the deeds in Italian. It should not, therefore, be surprising that in 1842 the Schmiedt, in his "Das Koenigreich Dalmatien", could write: "The language and the Italian customs were increasingly dominating, so Zara and Spalato, for example, had the appearance of a city purely Italian".

And it is not surprising that Kaznacic, director of the "Avvenire" of Ragusa, in 1848 replied -to those who criticized him for printing a Croatian newspaper in Italian- that "except for rare exceptions, the universality of those who read newspapers in Dalmatia needs to learn from the Italian the slave truths ". Or that Costantino Vojnovic, noted that the Italian had "invaded schools, administration, justice, churches, theaters", and it was 1861.

When Austria lost Veneto (1866), the atmosphere in Dalmatia became increasingly murky. Vienna made its resentments felt against the subjects of Italian nationality, and had the faithful allies in the Croatians. In that year the Austrian government issued a decree making it compulsory for all civil servants to know the Croatian.

Antonio Udina (of Veglia) was the last speaker of the autochthonous "Dalmatian language"

In 1872, the Austrians ordered all offices in Dalmatia to handle written and oral practices in the language requested by the parties. But in the Austrian administrations the resistance of the Italian language had to be very tenacious if for its suppression it will have to arrive to 1909. The "Ordinance" provoked the protest of the Italian employees. And the "Memorial of State Officials of Italian Nationality in Dalmatia", directed to the Ministry of the Interior, carried 506 signatures.

The violence, the personal attacks, the damage to the camps had begun since 1866. The peasants, once quietly cohabiting with the "Italians", were stirred up by those who were more trusting, the priests. The first serious incident occurred in 1869, in Šibenik, with the aggression of the Italian sailors of the "Corzambano" pyro-corvette. About twenty wounded, even serious, on both sides. The fact resonated with the Italian Parliament. Tommaseo wrote the brochure "The Monzambano in Sibenik".

The struggle against the use of the Italian language, in the administrations of the State, developed at the same time on the level of school teaching.In 1866, in Dalmatia (excluding the school district of Càttaro) between government and municipal schools there were 38 "popular" (elementary) Italians, 34 bilinguals, 17 Croatian.For medium education, and all with teaching in Italian, there were 3 gymnasiums of eight classes (Zara, Spàlato, Ragusa); 3 gymnasts of four classes (Cùrzola, Sebenìco, Càttaro); a "real" (technical) school of seven classes in Spàlato, and one of 4 classes in Zadar; two nautical institutes, one in Spàlato and one in Càttaro. In addition two "normal schools" (magistrali), an Italian one in Zadar city, and one in Borgo Erizzo (district of the city) with Slavic language.In that year Vienna arranged that in elementary schools one should pass from teaching up to that moment taught exclusively in Italian to that in the Croatian language.

As soon as the Italians lost the majority to the Dalmatian diet, when the individual Municipalities fell, it was easy for the Croats to suppress Italian in their municipal or provincial schools. At the same time the Government supported the opening of Croatian schools by all means.In 1871 there were already 159 and 31 bilinguals. In 1910 the Croats would have been 459. Achievements that, from the social point of view, constituted a felt need in the face of an illiteracy that reached 62 percent among the Croats. But, at the same time, they constituted the most valid instrument to supplant what was in Italian.

The reaction of the Italians

The loss of representation in the elective organs and the abolition of the schools led to a twofold phenomenon in the Italian minority: organizing themselves into their associations, setting up their own schools.They were private initiatives, but they played a decisive role in city life. And from the struggle between "annexationists" and "autonomists", the "Italian party" was opposed to the "Croatian party".The Italians created the "Reading cabinets", they were gathered in the mutual aid workers' societies, in the Bersaglieri companies (target shooting) with uniforms similar to that of the Italian bersagliere, in the sports clubs (gymnastics, rowing, cycling, running, fencing). ).

The "Spalatino" Antonio Tacconi was a leader of the Italian Irredentism in Dalmatia (and masterminded the creation of the "Governorate of Dalmatia")

They constituted the city music bands, the social circles, the philodramatic societies. All hidden from the "Dalmatian Political Society" which, from 1899 onwards, in terms of action and propaganda, would avail itself of the "Society of Italian Students of Dalmatia". And through the students were created the "Popular libraries", were promoted - especially in Zadar - conferences of politicians, journalists who, invited, came from the Peninsula.Faced with the contextual need to provide for the education of their children according to their own tradition, in 1898 the Italians enthusiastically joined the "Pro Patria", established in Trento to spread the Italian school teaching in the provinces of the Empire. They enrolled in the "Dante Alighieri". They perched around the "National League".Constituted the "Adriatic Section" of the National League, they only financed it with their own personal commitment. In Zara they set up 4 kindergartens, an elementary school, the "Niccolò Tommaseo" boarding school, with 140 places for pupils from all the Dalmatian towns. Two elementary schools in Sebenico, two in Spàlato, one in Cùrzola. Teaching was also given by teachers who came from the Peninsula.

The outbreak of the world war prevented the opening of two other schools, one in Ragusa and the other in Cittavecchia.The defense of the language represented the synthesis of the political struggle. Not being able to exalt Italy was praised the language of "SI". Most probably, among all the ethnic minorities of Europe, that of Dalmatia was the only one that made reference to the language its irredentist creed. His anthem was "El Si!", And the refrain said: "In the homeland of Paravia", or "After death, in burial", "we will speak Italian, SI! .SI!".Well, according to the 1910 census, all this cultural, political, sporting activity would have been supported and developed by 18,028 Italians. If the most compact nucleus was that of Zara with 11,469 people, in the rest of Dalmatia the Italians, mathematically, would have amounted to 6,559. Suspect even for the same Croats. Ivo Rubic, in one of his works, will admit that under Austria "our municipalities, when they compiled the statistics, took into account a number less than the real when it referred to those who spoke Italian". But the statistics of Vienna were official and as such were accepted, even by the Italian Government.

The 1919 Peace Conference

Italy, in November 1918, occupied Zara, Sebenìco, the territories from Tenìn to Punta Planca, the islands in front and those in the south (Cùrzola, Lèsina, Làgosta, etc.), as established by the London Pact of 26 April 1925.For our soldiers, for the authorities, it was the discovery of a new world. The commander of the R.N. will write Puglia, Giulio Menini, who first attracted to Šibenik: "We were all ignorant, even we fighters, of having many brothers on the other side, and that that part of the population that now militates in the adverse party has such an Italian education, that for uses, customs and culture does not make it stand out from the purest citizens of Rialto. ".

The newspapers, public opinion, would have acquired more knowledge of the recent and past history of Dalmatia, during the discussions at the Peace Conference in Versailles, which brought to the fore the Adriatic question.While Italy, in the territories of the Pact of London, established the "Governorate of Dalmatia" (Rear Admiral Enrico Millo), a temporary government of the Serb-Croatians-Slovene (S.H.S.) was established in Spàlato. Kingdom born of the disintegration of Austria.

In this way Italy, as regards the arrangement of the eastern borders, found itself faced with a complex situation.In Versailles, to define the new frontier, Giulia, rather than Austria, would have had as a counterpart the Serbia that had been transformed into the Kingdom of the Serb-Croatians-Slovenians. It was the champion of Croatian interests based on the Pact of Corfu, stipulated in 1917 by the Serbian Nikola Pasic and the Croatian (of Split) Ante Trumbic.The State SHS, even if not included among the "Great", was heavily felt, supported - not inexplicably - by Wilson when, in addition to the messianic "14 points", think that his personal doctor was the Spalatino Dr. Biankini, brother of the Croatian deputy Jurai Biankini.

The First Exodus

From November 1918 until the beginning of 1921 (entry into force of the Treaty of Rapallo) there was a first and uncontrolled exodus of Italians from the areas occupied by the Serbs (from Spàlato, from Trogir, from Ragusa, etc.).The Consul General of Italy in Split, Carlo Umiltà, will write in his book of memories, "Yugoslavia and Albania", that "the Croatian and Serbian provocations and bullying [..] had pushed many thousands of Italians to abandon their country and to take refuge in the Peninsula ".

Already on 18 November 1918, the Provisional Government of Split had imposed on all officials the oath of loyalty to the State S.H.S. Those of Italian nationality opposed that "with regard to the provisional nature of the present situation they were not conscientiously obliged to lend it until the final decision on the part of the Conference of Peace". Immediately they were declared "fallen from office and emoluments".The violence of the Serbs and those of the Croatians did not even ensure personal safety.

In Spàlato, on 12th July 1920 the corvette captain Tommaso Gulli, commanded by R.N.Puglia and the motorist Aldo Rossi were killed.A large part of the Italian element, left at the mercy of its traditional adversaries, not protected by any diplomatic representation (the Consulates will be open in January 1921), left their homes.For a numerical comparison, even if approximate, of this exodus we can compare the data - by nationality - of the movement of the population of Zara, as they appear in the censuses of 1910 and 1921.Between the two dates the "Italians" (11.469 in 1910) increase physiologically by 606 units. The "Croats" decrease from 5,705 to 1,255 (-4,450) certainly not to remain under Italian sovereignty.The "foreigners" are increasing and may even be surprising: 2,289 in 1910 to 3,735 (+ 1446) in 1921. But this is not a distortion, but rather a particular phenomenon.In 1910 under the heading "foreigners" were recorded Austrian officials and employees who, while working in Zara, maintained their residence in the countries of origin. But with the occupation of the city by Italy, except for a few dozen people, they had all returned to their places of origin.Instead, starting from November 1918 and up to the beginning of 1921 (entry into force of the Treaty of Rapallo) under the heading "foreigners" were recorded people of Italian sentimental feelings from other places in Dalmatia. They were not yet Italian citizens, it was uncertain whether they were Yugoslavs for employment, or if they still had Austrian citizenship, and they could also be stateless. In doubt they were registered as "foreigners".

If in the spring of 1921 alone Zara received not less than 3,500 refugees from Dalmatia, it is legitimate to suppose that another five thousand six thousand have continued to Trieste, Venice, Ancona. But no one has ever spoken of this exodus.

In August 1941 the remaining Italians of Arbe (actual Rab) did a ceremony to celebrate the union of their island to the kingdom of Italy

The Treaty of Rapallo

To solve the Adriatic problem it was necessary to resort to direct negotiations between Rome and Belgrade, which signed the Treaty of Rapallo on 12 November 1920. Italy brought the eastern borders of Venezia Giulia to the natural borders made by the chain of the Alps.

Fiume became an independent state. But the Italian Dalmatia of the Pact of London was given to the new State of Yugoslavia, less Zara and the island of Làgosta (a total of 104 sq km of territory). The Italians of Arbe and Veglia protested and even sent their cities flags to Italy and San Marino (see the following image of a famous stamp of S.Marino Republic).

One should suppose that in Rapallo, the diplomats of Palazzo Chigi, almost feeling on its shoulders the weight of renunciation to the Dalmatia territories, wanted to protect the Italian minority that, in this way, remained under the sovereignty of the Yugoslavia state.

Perhaps failing to obtain a special status for that community - in this case changing some norm from the former Austrian law for the minorities of the ceased Empire - they devised a clause that allowed Italians - as such - to stay in their cities. Evidently the exodus of those thousands of Italians, in 1919 and 1920, as well as the reasons that had determined it, did not seem to have been evaluated and so Rome did not capture the real situation in which the Italians were experiencing in Dalmatia. In international customs it is expected that, with the change of sovereignty over a given territory, the population is able to not accept the citizenship of the new State but with the obligation to transfer its residence elsewhere. In other words, it is granted the right to exercise the right of option.

However, in the Treaty of Rapallo, in this traditional institution, a completely new clause was introduced. Those who opted for Italian citizenship were not obliged - as a rule - to transfer their residence. And innovation was considered a success of Italian diplomacy, so much so that Count Sforza - in the Chamber of Deputies - declared that they "had obtained privileges such as none of the recent European treaties had come to recognize for an ethnic minority".

But those who opted to remain Italians and kept the residence in place automatically became "foreigners". They remained ousted from the political and administrative life of their cities to which, until then, they had - well or badly - always participated. They were faced with considerable difficulties to continue their professions, to obtain licenses and permits necessary for the exercise of arts and crafts. And in that naturally hostile environment they would have been pointed out as "Italians".

On the other hand, those who opted not to be Italians became Yugoslavian citizens, as sanctioned by the Constitution of the State of Yugoslavia: "Citizenship is one in the whole Kingdom".

With the Treaty of Rapallo the General Consulate of Spàlato, the Consulate of Sebenìco, the Vice Consuls of Cùrzola and Ragusa were reopened or established to allow the Italians to opt. In those moments, however, Rome still ignored how many Italians "really" there were in Dalmatia, which certainly were not the 6,559 of the 1910 census.

At the Chamber of Deputies, during the debate on the Treaty of Rapallo, the same Salvemini, who certainly was not in favor of Italian aspirations in Dalmatia, stood at the figure of 40,000 Dalmatian Italians. Similarly, the deputy Colajanni did not rule out even a presence of 60,000 people.
Furthermore, in 1919 the Spalatini (native neolatin citizens of Spalato) had affixed 8,000 signatures - authenticated - to a petition sent to the Italian Delegation to the Peace Conference to demand the annexation of the city to Italy. That is, in the city of Spàlato/Split alone there were at least 8,000 Italians able to sign.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in order to have more precise data, had to ask the Consular Representatives for information on the spot that they answered with a series of notes between February and April 1921.The Italian Vice Consul in Cùrzola reported the "huge number of citizens of Cùrzola - 118 families with 564 members - who announced themselves to this civil commissioner with the intention of leaving the city and moving to the Kingdom". And he added: "Excluding the regnicoli here domiciled and the officials of the ceased Austrian regime entered our service [who are almost all Italians] and not even calculated the Italians of fresh date, declared such after our occupation, still remain between Cùrzola and the neighbor Petrara Village as many as 189 families with 835 members ". Overall, therefore, the Italians were more than a thousand.

From Sebenìco, that Consul informed that in the city lived 190 Italian families with 650 people and , with the surrounding territory, they would have been at least 800. Data for defect, since when the so-called "second zone" (Sebenìco) was evicted - as far as we know - 20 families left on 20 April 1921. A week after 300 people, and on June 13 another 653.

In Lissa, April 17, 1921, the Italian flag was lowered. The minutes of the handover were countersigned by the mayor Lorenzo Doimi of de Lupis and 30 Italian family leaders.

In relation to Ragusa, the Consul General of Spàlato, reported on the existence of about 100 families of "Regnicoli" (Italians born in the Italian Peninsula), and added: "Italian Dalmatian families who will opt will be fifty".

In this search for data, the list of names of the Dalmatian magistrates and chancellors who were displaced in the Peninsula can be of some interest. These are 74 former Austrian employees placed in the roles of the Italian judiciary in Dalmatia since 1919.The Consul General Umilta, in his book of memories, would have written that, "Including Zara, remained annexed to Italy, the Italians were certainly not inferior to 50/60 thousand." And he added: "Then we must mention those who, isolated in the countryside and in small villages, were to be called Slavs not to be slaughtered by the Croatian energumens, then the indifferent who, while they wished that their country was annexed to Italy, did not dare to demonstrate openly their aspiration, so as not to see any possibility of life precluded ".Finally, a more political than statistical consideration: "In short, among Italians proper and sympathizers, there were no less than one hundred thousand people in Dalmatia, who did not expect anything good from the union of Dalmatia to Yugoslavia.

The exodus of Dalmatian Italians from Spalato

Second Exodus

By 1921, the Italians who were still in the Dalmatia occupied by the Serbian troops, and in the areas formerly controlled by the Italians, were able to exercise the right of option. But there is very little news about it.

The elements that the Consul General Umilta provides, even if not included in an official or service publication but in his book, are probably those closest to reality given the authoritativeness of the source and the non-instrumentality of the volume, considering that it was published in 1948."When it came to the moment of the option," he writes, "and this operation lasted about five months, a ten thousand people became Italian citizens [..], a total of fifteen thousand people remained yugoslavian subjects".The option applications, collected by the consular representations, were sent for notification to the "Civil Commissariat for Dalmatia", then the Prefecture of Zara. And they were a declaration of faith. The interested party, in fact, signed a question where, in addition to the reference to Article 7 of the Treaty of Rapallo, it was specified that the option was "in accordance with the rules that will be enacted". That is, you opted for a closed box.

On 11 April 1923, the newspaper "Corriere di Zara" reported the news that up to that date, despite a rather complex procedure, 3,419 applications had been accepted. Furthermore, a note from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs shows that 344 late applications had been accepted by late May 1925, while a hundred were still in the preliminary investigation.In any case, it is believed that in 1921-1922 more than 10,000 Italians exercised their right of option. In general, people traditionally clinging to their cities, or who had their own heritage, their own self-sufficiency, so they could resist the pressures of the environment.The other 15,000 who did not opt, despite remaining "spiritually" Italian, became confused with the Croatians. But, in progression of time, many later moved to Italy. Because of the difficulty that the Croats, at all times, opposed to their cohabitation. For the political instability of Yugoslavia. For the animosity of Belgrade towards Rome that found immediate resonance in the Dalmatian cities.

According to a Yugoslavian statistic, only between September 1926 and October 1929, 1,493 Italians emigrated from Dalmatia, and Ivo Rubic considers the presence, around 1930, of only 7,500 Italians. Therefore the figures presented by the Consul General Umilta can be considered coherent.

The Last Exodus

Italy returned to Dalmatia in April 1941. Following the Pacts of Rome on 18 May, that were concluded with the Independent State of Croatia which arose from the disintegration of Yugoslavia, Italy included under its own sovereignty both the territories of the London Pact of 1915 and those of Spàlato & Càttaro, erected to new provinces of the Kingdom of Italy which, with that of Zara (constituted the "Government of Dalmatia").

In 1941 there were 20,000 Italians and 2,000 Croats in Zara. In the rest of Dalmatia there will have been at most 3 to 4 thousand Italians (lacking precise data), with the most consistent groups in Spàlato, Ragusa, Sebenìco and Cùrzolabr/>
On July 25, 1943, the personnel of the "Government of Dalmatia" and of political organizations from the Peninsula returned to Italy.

On September 10, while Zara was being guarded by the Germans, and the city's population suffered no offense, the Tito's partisans entered the town of Spàlato. They remained there until September 26, when the city was conquered by the Germans. In those 16 days, between Spàlato and Trau, the titines suppressed 134 Italians, including public security agents, carabinieri, prison guards.Ten people were shot in Sebenìco, although the partisans had the chance to stop only one day. Shootings happened also in Ragusa. Another 94 Italians were suppressed in various locations in Dalmatia. 51 were also shot by the Germans or died in Nazi deportation camps. And each figure shown here corresponds to the sum of persons identified by name. Therefore, it is permissible to think of others who, similarly disappeared, have left no memory.

During 1943 and 1944, from the place occupied by the Germans - like Spàlato, Ragusa, Sebenìco - the last Italians, took the road of exile in their homeland. But there were still the 20,000 Italians from Zara. Tito, making the city appear to be a crucial logistic center for the supplies of the German divisions engaged in the territory of Yugoslavia, convinced the allies of its military importance.The Anglo Americans, between November 2, 1943 and October 31, 1944, with fifty-four bombings razed the city to the ground. No less than were 2,000 dead under the rubble. About 10-12,000 were the "Zaratini" citizens who at various times managed to save themselves in Trieste. Just over a thousand were able to reach Puglia.The Tito partisans entered Zara on October 31, 1944, and 138 were the Italians shot, suppressed, or drowned: this number limited to those identified by name.

With the Treaty of Peace of 1947, Italians who were still in Dalmatia were granted the right to opt for Italian citizenship, but with the obligation to transfer residence in Italy. There will not have been more than five thousand and all of them were scared by the terror related to the foibes and the massacres done with continuous harrassments perpetrated by the Titos's partisans.

The exodus was total. In Dalmatia the Italian minority had ceased to exist.

Lega Nazionale

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A group of Dalmatian Italians (and Istrians) in a 1947 refugee camp in Tuscany's Pisa

An Ethnocide?

Finally I want to remind the readers that in 2018 there are still one hundred Dalmatian Italians in Cherso-Lussigno/Cres-Losinj and about a half hundred in Zara/Zadar.

Someone (a few dozen old ones) is also found elsewhere, from Spalato/Split to Lagosta/Lastovo and Ragusa/Dubrovnik of Dalmatia. However you do not reach half a thousand, to be optimistic! The Dalmatian Italians who exiled in the world have their own association called "Libero Comune di Zara in esilio" (Free city of Zara exiled in the world) and have their magazine called "Il Dalmata" (http://www.libertates.com/newlibertates/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/dalmata-97-dig-def.pdf ).

In short, in the nineteenth century according to the reliable Austrian census of 1857 there were in Dalmatia (excluding the Quarnaro/Kvarner islands: Cherso/Cres, Lussino/Lošinj and Veglia/Krk) 45,000 Italian Dalmatians and 369,310 Croats ( https://books.google.cl/books?id=r60EAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA38&dq=%C3%96sterreichisches+K%C3%BCstenland&as_brr=1&hl=de#v=onepage&q&f=false ). So, officially almost 15% of the inhabitants in Dalmatia south of the Quarnaro area was Italian (and if you add these islands of the Quarnaro where the Italians were very numerous, you reach almost twenty percent) but today unfortunately nothing remains. Only a percentage that is practically nothing! And -sincerely- this fact raises a disturbing question: this disappearance of the Italians in Dalmatia should be called "Ethnocide"?

PS: If interested in further information, please go to http://researchomnia.blogspot.com/2013/08/lagosta-perfect-ethnic-cleansing.html (about the complete disappearance of the Italians in Lagosta -now in Croatian called Lastovo, a Dalmatian island that was officially part of the Kingdom of Italy until 1947).

MAPS OF DALMATIA WHEN WAS PARTIALLY ITALIAN (after the Republic of Venice fall in 1797):

A) Map showing the borders of Italy from WW1 to WW2 with blue line and the borders of the Governorato of Dalmatia (1941-1943) with yellow points line


B) Map showing the Dalmatia inside the Napoleonic kingdom of Italy (1806-1810). In 1808 was added Ragusa
.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

ROMANS IN LITHUANIA (AMBER TRADE)

There it is a "special link" between Rome and Lithuania since classical times, a link due to the "amber".

Indeed no Roman legion ever reached the shores of the Baltic sea, as we all know, but at least one Roman soldier arrived for sure in what is now modern Lithuania. In his “Natural History” Pliny the Elder (23-79 AD) wrote that during the reign of Nero (37-68 AD) a member of the equestrian noble order was sent (with a group supporting him, of course) to the northern regions to procure the supply of amber to decorate the arms of gladiators. According to him, it was a distance of about six hundred Roman miles between the center of amber source (in coastal Lithuania and surroundings) and Carnuntum (near Vienna, on the right side of the Danube). He brought back amber in such vast quantities that during the days of gladiatorial contests the whole Roman amphitheatre, gladiators and servants were decorated with amber. The largest piece of amber was 13 pounds in weight (4,2 kg). Pliny the Elder explained the passion for amber. He wrote that instead of wearing neck-rings many Roman women used amber as they counted on its curative powers (it was a widespread belief that amber could cure thyroid and other throat diseases) and on the magic of its beauty.

This link seems to be at the origin of why sixteenth-century Lithuanian noble houses were only too happy to ground their contemporary power in a historical myth which traced their ancestry to Ancient Rome. The Roman origin myth of Lithuanians aristocracy takes us back to the times of Emperor Nero when the Roman Duke Palemon (probably the name of the member of the equestrian order remembered by Pliny) and 500 of his noble companions, incensed by the tyrant's high-handedness, took their families (four Roman patrician houses: the Centaur family, the Column family, the Bear family and the Rose family) and left the Eternal City. After a long journey through seas and oceans, they settled on the Baltic coast, according to the myth. These 500 noble Romans allegedly started the dynasties of Lithuanian dukes and gentry. The Roman origins legend helped solve two important issues: first, Lithuanians thus made claim to a place in History among other European peoples and, second, linked their story to the History of Antiquity and Christendom (Lithuana is the northernmost country worshipping Catholicism and Rome's Pope). In sixteenth-century Lithuania, the Roman origin myth became a powerful historical narrative and a centre of Lithuanian identity. The political community of the Grand Duchy, still in formation, needed it to anchor its identity. The story of Palemon, propagated in contemporary chronicles, gave the origin myth to the class of landowners and gave them a place among European peers.

Furthernore, we must pinpoint that the ancient West Balts came into contact, directly and indirectly, with the advanced material culture and foreign concepts of imperial Rome during the period known as the "Old Iron Age" (AD 1-400) in Lithuanian archaeology. Roman traders and their middlemen arrived to procure natural drift amber, an exotic material that would be transformed in the workshops of Aquileia (northern Italy) into items much desired by the fashionable ladies of Italy: finger rings, necklaces and amulet pendants, ornately carved scent bottles and other miniature vessels, mirror-backs, and intricate figurines of deities, theater performers, and cupids riding dolphins and horses. This trade contact, some archaeologists believe, greatly stimulated the cultural evolution of Baltic society. They term it a “golden age” that saw trade embassies from Rome, and by the early third century cargo ships from the Frisian port of Fectio (near Utrecht, Netherlands) anchor off the Baltic coastline, bringing in sacks of coins, metal tools and weapons, textiles, household wares and personal ornaments to be exchanged for amber (according to academics Michelbertas and Jovaisa). This allowed Balts to acquire new metal and farming technologies, plants and livestock, which in turn increased productivity and population and began to stratify Lithuanian society into nobles and farmers.

Last but not least we have to remember that what is now Lithuania was at the end of the so called "Amber route". The route had different branches, one from the Oder river toward the central-western Alps, while the main branch of the route led from Lithuania across the Alps into the northern Italy. Yet another land amber road led from the shores of the Baltic Sea as far as the Dniester river, through the mouth of the Danube into the Caucasus, reaching into the eastern regions of the Black Sea and the south-western parts of the Caspian Sea. The travellers of these routes reached as far as Asia Minor.

Indeed in the first through the third century, “amber route” represented, speaking in modern terms, an entire industry. Huge treasures of raw Baltic amber have been found between Wroclaw and Partynica along the Oder River in Lower Silesia. It is believed that animal fur and hide, honey and wax were traded with the Romans along the same routes. In exchange, bronze, silver and gold coins, brass and glass vessels, ceramic items, glass and enamel beads, brooches decorated in enamel and brass, also non-ferrous metals, like copper, zinc, tin and silver were imported into the Baltic lands from the provinces of the Roman Empire. In the third century the land amber route declined in importance giving way to sea trade preferred by all the peoples of the Baltic region. In the third – fifth centuries, the eastern roads were used for trade with eastern neighbours. The third and fourth centuries saw trade links expand with the Scandinavians, especially with the islands of Gotland and Öland.

Amber, alongside with imported articles, was an object of trade not only with the Roman provinces, but also within the Baltic lands. Amber jewellery was not an exclusively female ornament; it was worn also by men and boys, even though women’s graves yield more amber artefacts. Often beads of amber were used in strings. Amber beads were combined with beads of glass and enamel, also with brass spiral pendants.In the Late Iron Age amber was costly merchandise in the Roman Empire. Thus, only small amount of it was spared for the local market. The situation changed in the Middle Iron Age. After the fall of the Roman Empire, from the second half of the fifth century, the amount of amber is seen to have increased in all burial monuments in Lithuania. Amber beads-amulets are being excavated in the graves of men and women. Women’s graves are often found to contain amber spindles among other utensils. The burials from the seventh till the ninth century contain fewer imported items. At that time the previously established trade routes with Western and Southern Europe were temporarily disrupted.

In a few words, by the 1st century AD, the Roman Empire was carving this semi-precious material into elaborate decorative items, small implements, and eating utensils. To meet the huge demand for raw amber, a trade route developed. It began on the shores of the Baltic Sea, traversed present-day Poland, and continued south through Eastern Europe to the Adriatic coast of present-day Italy (reaching the port-city of Aquileia, as can be seen in the following map). From there, it went overland across the Italian peninsula to Rome. This "Amber Way", as it became known, was the precursor for all trade routes connecting north and south Europe.

Indeed there are many interesting books about the amber trade done by Roman merchants in localities of Lithuania (and the surrounding coastal areas): the following are some excerpts related to Dauglaukis, from a book written by Eugenijus Jovaisa and titled The 'Balts and the Amber' (Vilnius: Publishing Office of Vilnius Academy of Fine Arts, 2001):

Dauglaukis findings

Amber ornaments, together with Roman artefacts, were excavated in most burial monuments in Lithuania. For example, the cemetery of Dauglaukis which is attributed to the culture of the lower reaches of the River Nemunas. Dating to the Old Iron Age, this rich burial monument manifests a versatile usage of amber in the daily life of the Balts.

A 127 burial grouping of Dauglaukis falls into three chronological groups which encompass a period from 70 to 260 AD (70-150, 150-220, 220-260). Twelve Roman bronze sestertii were located in ten graves in the cemetery of Dauglaukis. Their biggest part is attributed to the dynasty of Antonines: Antoninus Pius (138-161), Antoninus Pius adopted successor Marcus Aurelius (161-180) and Commodus (177-192) who was the last in the dynasty. This consecutive order indicates active contacts between the Dauglaukis community and the merchants from the Roman Empire. It might seem that there should have been coins of the Severan dynasty, however, it is not so. Other Roman coins are attributed to the late Roman emperors, e. g., there was found a bronze sestertius of Gordian's III reign (238-244).

The community of Dauglaukis lived under the conditions of military democracy. The stratification of society was based on wealth and patriarchal system. Men's graves comprise burial goods which abound in weapons and tools of labour. A man was a leader in the family, household and military. Whereas women's graves were mostly furnished with ornaments, though some burials are equipped with such household articles as awls, needles and, in very rare cases, parts of spinning equipment. It seems that a woman must have been confined to the concerns of the household only.

Private property determined the division of the community of Dauglaukis into 3 classes: 1) “common”, 2) “well-to-do”, and 3) “rich”. An apparent reflection of this differentiation is an average number of burial goods found in a grave of an individual. A “common” tribal woman had 2.7 burial items, a “well-to-do” woman possessed 7.5 articles, and a “rich” woman owned even 14.4 burial goods. Similar finds come from the graves of men: a “common” man had 2.8 items, a “well-to-do” man possessed 5.1 burial goods, and a “rich” man was equipped with 8. 5 burial items. It is interesting that the well-to-do and rich members of the Dauglaukis community owned the largest share of amber - almost 75.3%. Archeologist Sidrys has made a statistical analysis of the amber finds in the cemetry of Dauglaukis and confirmed a direct subordination between amber and rich graves.

Grave 41 yielded 97 amber beads, pendants and other articles together with pieces of raw amber. Amber was used for decorations by everyone: men and women, girls and boys. The biggest volume of amber was located in the graves of women and girls. Amber beads were often used to adorn necklaces (14). As a rule, amber was used together with enamelled and glass beads, sometimes with brass spirals.

It is of interest to note that no genuine amber necklace has been found so far with the exception of the cemeteries of Vidgiriai and Plinkaigalis, dating to the end of the 5th century and the beginning of the 6th century AD. Sidrys writes: “Amber must have had no high status or high economic value since the merchants of Middle Lithuania did not mediate between the locals and the Romans in amber export”. The author demonstrates a poor understanding of the end of the Old Iron Age. Though the merchants of Middle Lithuania did not mediate between the locals and the Romans, archeological finds comprise spectacular Roman collections of enamelled and glass beads, imported fibulae and, most importantly, a very rare sample of imported bronze jug. However, there is no or little amber, and the further from the sea, the less amber is found in the burial monuments of the Old Iron Age. But in the burial monuments of the Old Iron Age only! This pattern, however, does not apply to the Middle Iron Age. Why? In the Old Iron Age a high demand of amber in the Roman Empire made amber a highly expensive good in the amber source metropolis itself. Not without reason, amber was combined with imported enamelled and glass beads to decorate necklaces. With the fall of the Roman Empire, already from the second half of the 5th century AD we observe an increase of amber objects in all Lithuanian burial monuments. Therefore, it is not by chance that considerable quantities of amber are found in the above-mentioned cemetery at Plinkaigalis in Middle Lithuania.

Sidrys also notes that “the statistical subordination between amber and rich graves was confirmed in Dauglaukis, as opposed to Vidgiriai which was outstanding in amber”. Compared are two burial monuments which are incomparable by definition. The cemetery of Dauglaukis dates to the period 70-260 AD whereas the early cemeteries of Vidgiriai date 450 years later. If the author had treated amber as a “high-ranking” good, it would have been obvious that with the decline of the “Amber route”, amber became more available to the Baltic tribes themselves.

Amber beads-amulets were located in twenty graves in Dauglaukis. Most of them were found in men's graves, and only some were unearthed in women's and girls' graves. In our literature there are no comprehensive studies made on the nature of amber beads-amulets. We can only assume that these amulets are trully genuine. In men's graves they are usually found in the neck area. They must have been hung on a string and worn round the neck. Tacitus makes a mention of amulets worn by the 'Aestians'. It is true, though, that these were boar-shaped figurines or boar masks which “... protected them, and ensured the safety of the worshipper even among his enemies”.

An interesting find also comes from men's grave 82. It is composed from brass spirals, an antropomorphic brass pendant and one amber bead. Perhaps it was not by chance that amber was coupled with a human-face-shaped pendant? The women of the Dauglaukis community also wore amber to decorate sashes which supported their hair. Such ornaments come from four graves. Women used sashes, made from woollen cloth or leather, to underlie their hair, and on the back of the head would attach an ornament composed from brass spirals separated by big pieces of amber. It should be added that such finds have no equivalents in the assortment of women's head-dress decorations dated to the Old Iron Age.

Amber pendants are extremely scarce in Dauglaukis. They were accidentally excavated in three graves. Grave 63 possessed a necklace which had amber as both 1) a component used together with enamelled and glass beads, and 2) as a pendant. Amber pendants can vary in form. They can be drop-shaped (grave 70), rectangular (grave 79), “wooden mortar-shaped”, etc.

Beside two Roman coins, an amazing article was found in woman's grave 55. It resembles a modern-day thread spool or a fly-wheel. It is the only such find out of all Lithuanian burial monuments dating to the Old Iron Age, and it is hard to say what purpose it served. It might have been a woman's tool used for spinning. Grave 6 was equipped with an amber spindle. Grave 34 deserves a mention, too. It contained three little pieces of raw amber.

The burial grounds of Dauglaukis have revealed a wide range of amber usage in the Baltic household. The finds encompass ornaments, items of religious purpose, tools for labour. With its origins in the Neolithic Age, amber tradition was developed in the Old Iron Age.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

THE POMPEII OF SWEDEN

We all know that Roman legions never reached the Scandinavian peninsula. It is possible that a Roman 'Client State' existed in what is now Danemark (please, if interested read my researchomnia.blogspot.com/2015/08/roman-client-state-in-denmark.html ), but actual southern Sweden was too far to the north to have any minor link to the Roman empire. Of course, explorations were done in the region by the Romans (initially under Augustus) and the Roman merchants traded in all the Baltic sea with the famous "amber commerce".

Two rings and one coin found in 2017 confirm a theory that the Öland island was in close contact with the Roman Empire. Close by, were found pieces of Roman glass. The coin was made in honor of Western Roman Emperor Valentinian III (425-455 AD). The emperor is depicted on one side of the coin, with his foot resting on the head of a barbarian – a common motif in coinage from the period.

Indeed the Romans set up a network of hardened roads for the amber trade with inns a day’s horse ride apart, inside their empire. Many military strongholds providing safety for travelling merchants were also established (a few also in "Barbaricum" territories, according to recent researches). Travelers included not only merchants but also soldiers and officials. Settlements developed and cities sprang up at the junction of the main marching roads. The itinerary in those centuries ran from Aquileia, one of the Roman Empire’s main trading hubs (located near the northern tip of the Adriatic sea), to what is today Vienna, Brno, Wroclaw and onwards to Sambia in the area of today’s Kaliningrad/Koenisberg region (and Lithuania and Latvia), where the amber deposits were much bigger.

Roman merchants also traded with southern Sweden and the Öland island was a trading outpost, according to recent archaeological discoveries. The Romans who travelled north for ‘the gold of the Baltic’ would take with them various items to be traded, including fabrics, ceramics, metal objects, trinkets, wool, as well as bronze and brass artefacts. They brought back sacks of amber, animal skins, wax, feathers and beaver coats. Due to increasing intense economic contacts, Roman coins also were started to be used (nearly one thousand "solidii" -from the fourth and fifth centuries AD- have been found in the southern Scandinavia region, read numismatics.org/digitallibrary/ark:/53695/nnan59692), but actually there it is not a huge research by academics on this matter.

However, there are some interesting studies in the last years about the so called "Sweden's Pompeii": Sandby borg in the island of Öland.

In this Swedish island archaeologists have discovered many Roman coins with nice jewelry and various objects, like onions (that were not produced in Scandinavia). For example, see the video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMoIWk0rjE8&feature=c4-overview-vl&list=PL7439DE669A0B72B3 or read the interesting article www.atlasobscura.com/articles/swedish-ancient-onion-found, where it is written that: "...Found a 1,500-Year-Old Burnt Onion Linked to ‘Sweden’s Pompeii’...The ancient vegetable affirms a Swedish island’s ties to the Roman Empire.....Nicknamed “Sweden’s Pompeii” by researchers, Sandby Borg was the site of a mysterious fifth-century massacre. In 2013, Sweden’s Kalmar County Museum and Lund University researchers found the slaughtered remains of its inhabitants. They had been ambushed and butchered by unknown attackers in the middle of the night. Some bodies were “lying by the door as if they were running for the door and people were coming in,” said Helene Wilhelmson, one of the archaeologists. They were not buried, and left in their frozen terrorized state for centuries.It’s possible that the raiders were looking for Roman gold rings and coins found last year at the ring fort. The onion further shows that the people had close links to the Roman Empire...."

Aereal view of Sandby borg with its possible port on the east side of Öland island


Brief History

The first mention of Swedes in History comes in 98 AD from the Roman Tacitus, who calls them Suiones. Jordanes in the sixth century calls them Suehans and Suetidi (the same people but possibly in two divisions).

Indeed the long and narrow island of Öland in the Baltic Sea, close to Sweden's south-eastern coast, in the fourth/fifth century was becoming important as a crossroads for Baltic trade. Commanding it was meaning power and status. Archaeology on the island has shown that the gradual disintegration of the Roman empire has left a large number of former soldiers deposited here. Presumably this was after having followed the trade routes themselves or returning home after having offered themselves for service to Rome, as no Roman outpost had ever been established this far north. These soldiers have probably found that some degree of their experience was required on the island, but they also largely turned their hands to a more pastoral existence.

"Two thousand years ago, Öland was connected to the mainland by the Baltic, and from there to the Mediterranean via established overland trade routes. Ölanders profited greatly from long-distance trade with the rest of Europe. Archaeological excavations and chance finds have turned up hundreds of Roman coins, bronze statues, glass beads, and vessels dating to the first four centuries A.D., when Öland had extensive contact with the Roman Empire. As the empire began to decline, Scandinavian warriors from the islands of Bornholm, Gotland, and Öland found that a set of skills different from what they had sharpened before was now in demand. They had traveled thousands of miles south between A.D. 350 and 500 to work as mercenary bodyguards for the last of the Roman emperors, who paid well to guarantee their loyalty. Ölanders had long brought their wages back to the windswept Baltic island in the form of Roman solidi, gold coins commonly issued in the late empire. The solidi found on the island are distinctive, matching dies that have been uncovered in Rome. “A lot of them are very fresh, in mint condition,” without the characteristic wear of coins that have been passed from hand to hand in trade. “There’s a direct link to Rome, and later to Milan and Arles.”. Andrew Curry, "Archaeology" (www.archaeology.org/issues/207-1603/features/4158-sweden-sandbyborg-massacre)

Several massive fortifications known as "borgs" (forts) have been established on the island, with earthen walls and Roman-style gates around 4.5 metres (fifteen feet) that encircle small villages and food stores. These borgs appear to be temporary residences rather than permanent settlements. Around 480 AD one such borg was attacked and defeated, its hundreds of inhabitants brutally executed, some with their mouths stuffed with goat and sheep's teeth. Greeks and Romans both buried warriors with coins in their mouths to pay for their transportation into the afterlife, but Germanic tribes also had a similar practice, suggesting a shared Indo-European origin for the practice. This version, however, seemed to be a parody of that custom.

The bodies were left unburied, rotting where they lied. None of the considerable wealth that was left behind was plundered. Leaving behind such valuable plunder, not only at the time of the massacre, but for every generation afterwards until the settlement was overgrown and hidden by nature, suggests something greater than mere political warfare. It suggests dire warnings against trespass across the generations, with parents instructing their children not to go near the cursed site. Usually only plague sites can generate such an impact, although the cause in this borg's case is still unknown.

"...A three-year-long analysis of the site has revealed the skeletal remains of at least 26 villagers, including those of children. Less than 10 percent of the decayed fort was excavated, so many more bodies may still be waiting to be found. Some skeletons were found in their houses; others were sprawled out on the fort’s main circular street. The positions of the bodies and the nature of their injuries point to a sudden, violent attack. Some were killed instantly, while others took longer to die of their wounds. Traces of half-eaten food, pots still in their hearths, and scattered possessions were also uncovered, suggesting the villagers had no idea what was coming...Incredibly, everything inside the fort—including the bodies—has been left unperturbed since the day of the massacre. “The evidence suggests that no survivors”—if there were any—“or neighbours could, or wanted to, enter the site after the massacre,” write the researchers....." George Dvorsky (gizmodo.com/this-recently-discovered-fifth-century-massacre-in-swed-1825526799

One other theory is that some sort of religious or shamanistic involvement was responsible. Fifth century Romans were mostly Christians, while Scandinavians were all staunchly pagan. If the borg with its large Romanised population has been Christianised and was attempting to 'infect' the rest of the island, the local pagan priests may have been responsible for organising an attack. Orders would have been given that nothing be touched. The priests may themselves may have gone in and taken and destroyed Christian objects, forbidding anyone else from touching anything in the fear that a cross may be found that they had missed. Such priestly commands would be even more unbreakable that a fear of disease.

Sandby borg Roman artifacts and jewerly
Other explanations about the Romanised "Sweden's Pompeii"

The Roman "amber commerce" was done mainly with a route that from ancient Roman Pannonia (actual western Hungary) reached the Baltic sea in the area of Koenisburg (actual Kaliningrad). The Swedish island of Öland is located just in front of this Prussian region and so could have been used by these Roman merchants as a trading outpost located a few miles from ancient Sweden.

Romans used to have for their commerce small outpost in islands facing some distant regions. This was the case of Ireland: in places like Drumanagh (interpreted by some historians to be the site of a possible Roman fort or temporary camp) and Lambay island, some Roman military-related finds may be evidence for some form of Roman presence. The most commonly advanced interpretation is that any military presence was to provide security for traders, possibly in the form of an annual market where Romano-British and Irish met to trade; other interpretations, however, suggest these may be distant Roman trading outposts.

Of course, the Ireland's Drumanagh/Lambay was an outpost that existed from the first to the third century AD during the 'hey day' of the Roman empire, while the possible Öland outpost was in existence in the fourth century. But the outpost could have been initially very little in the first or second century (and still to be fully discovered in future under the ruins of the Borg area). Further archaeological research will help in this matter.

Finally I want to remember that there it is also a remote (but real, IMHO) possibility that the Öland island settlement was linked to the Danish "Roman Client State" that seems to have existed even in the island of Bornholm. Indeed in 2014 Ulla Lund Hansen has written that has been discovered a nice bronze brooch in the Danish island of Bornholm, located in the middle of the Baltic sea and not far from the Poland & Sweden coast.

It was found at the ancient village of "Lavegaard", during the excavation of a Roman settlement on the island of Bornholm, located nearly one hundred miles south of Öland island. She wrote that "Larger excavation is underway, revealing an AFFLUENT ROMAN SOCIETY"...and the archaeologists hope to uncover many well-preserved remnants of this ancient community called Lavegaard. Besides the owl brooch, the archaeologists have found pottery and ancient building materials, postholes marking the sites of ancient houses, along with architectural features such as ovens and hearths (and a cemetery). All evidence of industry in the form of iron smelting or iron extraction and ceramics firing, and several well-preserved metal objects are also preserved...The excavated area now totals more than 5000 m² and so is part of a much larger settlement, which in Roman times would have had direct access to the sea via an inlet, now a wetland located just south of the settlement.In fact, all the evidence suggests that Lavegaard was a rather affluent society in its day.

With easy access to the sea and evidence of industry and coins (dating to AD 161-175) at the site, the inhabitants of Lavegaard could presumably afford to buy and produce valuable jewelry and other objects(read more at "sciencenordic.com/ancient-roman-artifact-found-danish-island" ). And some valuable Roman jewelry/objects have been found in the borgs of Öland island (see above image). But I have to admit that this explanation seems to be based on a very weak possibility.