Friday, February 3, 2023


February 10: National Memorial Day of the Exiles and Foibe

In a few days more is going go be the "National Memorial Day of the Exiles and Foibe" , called GIORNO DEL RICORDO in italian or "Day of Remembrance" in english.

We all know that at the end of WW2 there has been an ethnic cleansing of the authocthonous italian population in Dalmatia and a tentative to do the same in Istria and Venezia Giula. Historian Guido Rumici wrote that more than 11000 Italians in those years were killed in the "Foibe" (please read: Guido Rumici, "Infoibati (1943-1945). I Nomi, I Luoghi, I Testimoni, I Documenti". Mursia, 2002. ISBN 978-88-425-2999-6), while some thousands were killed in different ways and more than 350000 were forced to exile. In a few words: nearly 400000 italians suffered the "ethnic cleansing" of Tito, the Yugoslavia's communist dictator!

As happened in other "cleansing" in History -like in Armenia- those who shamefully did this uncivilised act usually deny it. That is why I am adding to my february essay the translation in english of an italian book, related to the evidences and proof about the yugoslavian ethnic cleansing of Italians in the eastern Adriatic coast.

Map showing the most famous "Foibe" in Istria and surroundings

The following excerpts from a book published in 2019 by the "Nova Rivista Storica" of the editrice Dante Alighieri deal with post-war population movements, expulsion, and ethnic massacres affecting Yugoslavia, during the years 1943-1947, with a focus on the Italian Eastern Border.

The author Eugenio Di Rienzo argued that Yugoslav political and military leaders considered the aftermath of the Second World War, in their neighbourhood, a convenient window of opportunity for "adjusting" the ethnic structure in specific regions according to their ideological visions and nationalistic ideals. Such an “ethnic cleansing” combined with Bolshevik social engineering occurred in Istria-Venezia Giulia, Dalmatia and partially also in the city of Trieste.

QUANDO LA STORIA DIVENTA SMEMORATA ("When History forgets"), of E. Di Rienzo

Indeed, there was no doubt that on the eastern coasts of the ancient «Venetian sea» there was a planned depopulation action (compulsory, forced and forced exodus/physical elimination) aimed at the Italian-speaking populations, for two reasons:

1 ) The killing of our (Italian) compatriots was not only a form of political struggle because it was not limited to the fascist militiamen and soldiers of the Royal Army, who had participated in counter-guerrilla actions and forced de-Slavization programs, but concerned the Italian population as a whole and even militants of the Liberation Committee who had fought shoulder to shoulder with the IX Korpus of Tito's Yugoslavia. On the Slavic-communist side, an attempt was made to dominate and subordinate the Italian units to its own directives and, in case of failure, it passed, as in the case of the "Osoppo-Friuli Brigade" (composed of volunteers of secular, liberal, Catholic, monarchist inspiration) to the ferocious and treasonous violence against them. Even the communist partisans, naturally more inclined to comply with the Tito directives, were put in a position not to offer resistance to the violent and sudden progress of the "Slawisierung" (slavisation) carried out with the arms policy. Most of them were forced by the Slavic commands to operate far from Italian territory in order to weaken the military presence of our compatriots in Venezia Giulia, on the Dalmatian coast and in Trieste in particular.

2) Those massacres were not even only the result of a war of class unleashed by the Slavic peasant masses against the elites Italians from the coast, because the "infoibati" were Italians of every social stratum, without distinction of wealth, class, affiliation or political conviction (except for the militants of democratic anti-fascism), age or sex. As we read, in fact, in the mournful diary of the Tito occupation of Trieste (1 May - 12 June 1945), written by Pier Antonio Quarantotti Gambini, one of the most important figures of Italian and Trieste culture of the twentieth century:
"It is almost impossible to know if an arrested person is still here in Trieste, or if he hasn't already been led away towards a foiba, his hands tied with wire behind his back, in those columns of deported or dying people who cross the city every night. What is surprising is that there is no news of any capture of large exponents of Nazi-fascism or of policemen. Only continuous arrests and mysterious disappearances of petite people, and moreover obscure: young dilettantes, enlisted in the Civic Guard to escape the calls of the German republics and who took up arms against the Nazis alongside the Volunteers in the insurrection; Finance policemen, Carabinieri, commoners who have disputed with the citizens of Tito these days, or who had long since been noted for their national sentiments, Italians from the old provinces of the humblest classes, boys stopped in some group on the street, and also women and girls. To vanish into thin air it is enough to be Italian. Having been Fascists or Republicans has nothing to do with all these arrests; on the contrary, it would seem that the Titos have almost a preference in targeting those who have never given proof of fascism and even above all those who have been anti-fascists. And, to those who point out to them how they have already persecuted and even killed many anti-fascists in 1943, and are now doing the same, they respond with the formula that they have created for these cases, because Tito's movement, even more than Mussolini's and of Hitler, always moves within the tracks of some formulas, which most of the time are nothing more than sentences. But, for every situation, for every case, for every circumstance his sentence is ready. And then, they say “we must hit the fascists even without a card and without a badge"

It is noteworthy to pinpoint that in the Balkan appendix of the "socialist paradise" the ethnic reclamation -perpetrated with military hands- was current practice from 1945 to 1948 and beyond. Indeed until 1950, about 57,000 ethnic Germans in Yugoslavia territories fell to the blows of Slavic-Bolshevik violence and a much higher number of German prisoners of war died by lynching, summary executions, "infoibamenti", or died of starvation in the so-called "expiation marches", organized by the Yugoslav Communists, which stretched for about 1,300 km, from the southern border of Austria to the northern border of Greece. Even more numerous were, then, those reduced to the condition of "worker-slaves" by the armed forces of Tito and by their willing collaborators who did not wear any uniform.

And this enormous number of deaths must not be forgotten in order to understand the meaning of what happened on the Italian Adriatic coast between 1943 and 1947. An event that cannot be described except with the term "democide" (created by Rudolph Rummel), i.e. mass murder planned by part of a government against the members of an ethnic community to which it was decided to deny not only the right of citizenship but also that of existence.

Photo of Norma Cossetto, an istrian girl killed in a Foiba in 1943 only because she was italian. After the Second World War, Norma Cossetto's death has been considered emblematic of Foibe massacres and ethnic cleansings of Italians by Yugoslavs in Istria. In 1949, the University of Padova conferred to her the laurea "honorary" and in 2005 the Italian President Ciampi awarded her the "Medaglia d'oro al merito civile".

In order to close (with complete information) this february essay, allow me to pinpoint the full statistics of this "democide": Rummel calculated that -in addition to 24,000 italian deaths because of foibe, lynching, hanging, drowning, summary executions by firing squads, etc...- between May 1945 and the end of 1947, more than 190,000 Italians crossed the border. There were also 160,000 people, including ex-partisans and anti-fascists, who left after Stalin’s break with Tito (1948-49) or as a result of the "Trieste crisis" in 1954.

Finally, we must remember that in the territories of former Yugoslavia now (2023) there are only about 40,000 Italians (nearly all in north-west Istria and in Fiume-actual Rijeka). This fact means that in the territories lost to Jugoslavia by Italy because of defeat in WW2 and that had more than 430,000 italian inhabitants in 1945, only 8% of them remain: a nearly perfect ethnic cleansing!

And in Dalmatia this democide is complete: for example, in Zara (actual Zadar) there are only a dozen italians, while the city in 1940 was fully italian and with 21,372 inhabitants!