Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Destruction of Palazzo Longo in Capodistria

Palazzo Longo, build in the 16th century
Demolished in February 2018

The destruction of Italian heritage in Istria continues, as the Slovenian government recently demolished the historical Palazzo Longo in the city centre of Capodistria.

The historic Palazzo Longo is – or rather was – an imposing and prestigious 16th century building, built in Venetian Renaissance style, which belonged to the noble Longo family who lived there for centuries. The Longo family originated in Venice in the 6th century, but later spread throughout the Italian world, with branches in Italy as well as in Istria and Dalmatia. The oldest mention of the family in Istria dates back to 1202 with Martinus Longus.

One member of the family in Istria, Francesco Longo, was Podestà of Capodistria in 1510, when the city belonged to the Republic of Venice. The last members of the Longo family lived in the Palazzo until the 1890's. The building was regarded as one of the most important Renaissance buildings in the city of Capodistria.

Coat of Arms of the Longo Family
Palazzo Longo, Capodistria
Abandoned for many decades, the building – owned by the Slovene government – was neglected and left to rot. It was sold by the municipality to a private owner named Doris Božič in 2010 during an auction. In 2015 there was a plan to restore the building. However, representatives of the Slovene Ministry of Culture declared that the building was unstable, dangerous and needed to be demolished.

The implicit and shameful admission behind this declaration is that the Palazzo had been so severely neglected by the Slovene government for so many years that they allowed the building to fall into decay, no doubt intentionally so.

On January 31, 2018 the government declared that the building must be demolished within 30 days. The demolition of the Palazzo Longo was completed in February 2018. It is expected that a new shopping centre or hotel will be built on the site of the old Italian Renaissance building.

As was recently admitted by Slovene author Vesna Mikolič, following the exodus of the Italian population after World War II the city of Capodistria was repopulated with Slovenes from other regions of Yugoslavia who did not identify with the Mediterranean city nor with its historical cultural heritage. The new Yugoslav administrators and Slovene immigrants deliberately neglected buildings in order to hide or suppress the Italian character of the Istrian city. As a result, many of the old Italian structures fell into decay and were often vandalized by hoodlums.

In light of the long history of destruction of Italian heritage in Istria on the part of the Yugoslav and post-Yugoslav governments, as well as the frequent desecrations of monuments and buildings still conducted by anti-Italian vandals to this day, it is difficult not to see this most recent demolition as part of an intentional plan to neglect an ancient building and purposefully allow it to fall into ruin in order to provide a justification for its destruction. Whether this negligence was intentional or not, the responsibility nonetheless must fall on the Slovene authorities, who owned and irresponsibly neglected the structure for so many years.

Today an alarming number of other historic Italian buildings of Capodistria are falling into a state of decay and are also facing the threat of demolition. The Palazzo Totto, Palazzo Bassegio, the ex-Servite Monastery, the Venetian “A Gheffo” House and several medieval structures are all in danger of being demolished. If this occurs, then what will be left of old Italian Capodistria?

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Statements of Lawrence Yates Sherman on the Treaty of London

Here we have the statements of Senator Lawrence Yates Sherman, who spoke before the United States Congress on August 4, 1919, on the Treaty of London and how the Entente Powers failed to honor the treaty and uphold their promises to Italy after World War I:
When Italy cast her strength into the war against the Central Powers it was a vital decision. Five million Italian soldiers created a battle line from the Alps to the sea; 500,000 dead and 1,000,000 wounded with $13,000,000,000 expenditure testify to the greatness of the Italian sacrifice. ... Germany was compelled to withdraw soldiers, artillery, and war supplies to strengthen Austria in her struggle against the new enemy on her southern flank. A neutral Italy would have left the dual empire free to send its military forces to strengthen Germany and enable the latter power to concentrate instead of compelled to divide her forces in the drive toward Paris and the channel ports. Italy's casting her lot, therefore, with the allied powers marks a decisive event in the fortunes of war. It ranks with the entry of the United States in the Great War against the Central Powers. Italy sat at the peace table knowing that she merited recognition commensurate with her sacrifice. Prior to her entering the war in 1915 a treaty was concluded, dated April 26 of that year, with Great Britain, France, and Russia. Under its terms the peace treaty entitled Italy to receive the district of Trentino, the entire southern Tyrol to its natural geographic boundary, the River Brenner, the city and suburbs of Trieste, Goritzia, and Gradisca, all of Istria to Quarnero, including: Volosca and the Istrian islands of Cherso and Lussino, and also the smaller islands of Plavnik [Plauno], Unia, Canidole, Palazzuolo, San Pietro dei Nembi, Azinello, and Grutzo, together with the neighboring islands.
... Our President had denounced and still denounces secret treaties. That denunciation is continued in the league of nations. I share in the dislike of such diplomacy in the future relations of civilized powers; but I can not reach that ultra level of morality that condemns a secret treaty, after having received its benefits and permitting the beneficiary to retain all the advantages and repudiate the promise... It [the London Treaty of 1915] gained for the Allies the Italian Nation. It was not merely Italy's military and naval strength she cast into the scale against Germany. I repeat, it was the creation of a battle line on Austria's southern flank, which drew from the eastern front in France strength then vital to German success. The morale of the Allies was strengthened beyond the estimate. In the foregoing situation President Wilson condemned the London Pact and denied the duty of Great Britain and France under its provisions to give Italy her frontiers guaranteed in that treaty
... If our President had not injected himself and the United States Government into the conference against the treaty, Italy would have received the guaranteed boundaries and territories for which she has performed a full service. There is no moral turpitude nor essential wrong in giving Italy the entire benefit promised in the treaty.
The ninth of President Wilson's points in his address to Congress on January 8, 1918, declares: A readjustment of the frontiers of Italy should be effected along clearly recognizable lines of nationality.
It is possible that when the President delivered this message he did not know of the London treaty of 1915, affecting Italy's frontier. Let that be assumed, although I doubt whether he lacked such knowledge. It was generally understood as early as 1916 that such a treaty existed and was the prevailing motive that carried Italy into the war for the Allies. This one of the 14 points is lamentably executed. Another idealism wrecked. I am in accord with the invalidity of secret treaties applied to future transactions, but I can not arouse my indignation over secret treaties which were vital steps in overcoming a treacherous public enemy, whose methods were without restraint either by common humanity or by any known rule of diplomacy or civilized warfare. I find it impossible to attain the sublime moral frenzy into which our President works himself when entranced by his ethereal phrases adapted only to the high altitude of the politically sanctified. I believe Italy is entitled to the full measure promised her in the 1915 treaty.
In the absence of such benefits Italy's claims at the hands of her allies have not been equitably met. Disappointment and ingratitude are the lot of Italy at Paris in return for her great sacrifice. President Wilson is responsible for Italy's exclusion from the fruits of victory. She lies on the tidewater of the Mediterranean, with the Adriatic Sea extending along her eastern and northern border. Within her boundaries and beyond in other countries are the Alps. In that mighty chain of mountains to her east and northeast are the ancient and historic passes through which Asiatic and eastern invaders have for thousands of years poured their warlike hordes on the frontiers of western Europe. The Alps are nature's defenses. The passes are the natural gateways and are supremely vital to the defenses of Italy. Through these passes came the great Slavic invasions in the fourth and fifth centuries. Their silent walls, if their stony lips could speak, would tell when Attila, the scourge of God, marched with his legions to subjugate western Europe and destroy Christendom. They would record the invasion of the Ostrogoths under Theodoric, when the flood of Asiatic barbarism again poured over western Europe. These silent witnesses saw the great Hun invasion in 943 A.D. Italy's defenses can not be safe by merely making the shore line of the Adriatic her northeastern and Southeastern boundaries. It would compel her to maintain a navy at tremendous expense far beyond what ought to be imposed upon her.
All the great Alpine basin, whose waters flow into the Adriatic Sea, is Italian territory. Those mountain heights and valleys, reared by the Omnipotent in imperishable majesty and beauty, are Italy's. The hand of God traced her everlasting boundary lines in the snow-crowned peaks and sunlit swiftly-flowing rivers that fall into the great Italian sea.
Along the eastern shore of the Adriatic is a narrow belt of coast land about 210 miles long and from 1 mile to 35 miles wide. This zone of fairly level plain is bounded on the east by the Dinaric Alps, an almost continuous precipitous wall of rugged mountains, rising in places in cliffs 6,000 feet above the sea level. This mountain chain is Italy's eastern defense. The Adriatic, unless fortified and manned by a formidable navy, is the facile highway for attack. The nation that owns or controls the plain between the Alps and the Adriatic commands, when fortified, Italy's Adriatic boundary. It is a perpetual menace. Dalmatia is of consequence in the future of Italy.
... President Wilson turned a deaf ear to Italy, and Great Britain and France, somewhat relieved to have our Government assume responsibility, silently acquiesced. I should like to have seen Lloyd-George's face when he acquiesced or allowed it to pass unchallenged. I believe if he could have been observed, the honest Welshman would have been seen to blush.
Therefore Italy is told she can not profit by secret treaties for which she has paid the price in blood and a supreme good faith in keeping Italian national honor. She loses a commercial port and a naval base by a single stroke of the Wilson pen. Her northeastern defenses against future enemies are untenable under the settlement made by the Paris conference. A few days ago Croatia rebelled against her status in the new government. She demanded independence. The revolt was quelled, it is true, but its population is restless. There is no guaranty to Italy of stable conditions on her northeastern Adriatic shore, with Fiume in other hands.
... The new Jugo-Slav Republic is an experiment. More than the ordinary uncertainty attending the launching of a new State inheres in the undertaking. The population included in the limits of this new State are not homogeneous. They are of diverse racial origin, language, religion, and ideals. While generally of the Caucasian race, there is a decided strain of Turkish blood in some of the people of this newly created State. There is another equally perceptible strain of Mongolian origin. Nowhere in all Europe can there be found such mingled strains of blood or such a hybrid population as here is sought to be welded into this new State. Their language is not alike; many dialects, of the same language are spoken, and more strains of blood can be found in the population of the proposed new State than in any other population sought to be united under the flag of a single government.
The attempt to fuse such a polyglot people into a self-governing State is characteristic of the indifference exhibited in the league of nations for actual as against idealistic conditions. It is a magazine charged with all the elements of potential explosion. A large portion of its people are accustomed to an unsettled life consequent upon unstable surroundings in the frequent local wars which have prevailed there and devastated their country for many years. That element is not disposed to the tranquillity of private occupation. They are more or less inured to violence, and are of nomadic habits. The foundation for stable government is not there, and the prospects are not reassuring. Italy can not be criticized for wishing a strong frontier against such a restless neighbor, whose presence upon the Adriatic border of Italy practically constitutes another Mexico—and we all know what Mexico on our own border means.
... Shantung is given Japan pursuant to a secret treaty exacted by the latter power in 1917 and notes of 1915 and 1918. It was the price of Japan's permission to China to declare war with the Allies and a part also of the price of Japan's nominal participation in the war. Japan's sacrifices are unworthy of mention with those of Italy. She watched the progress of the great war with an eye somewhat single to her own advantage. Her military forces fought the German in Shantung to seize the proceeds of Germany's robbery of China. Neither international law nor the new code of international morals based on the condemnation of secret treaties can justify the plunder of China. The league of nations and the peace treaty will be condemned by the impartial historian for the sanction of this flagrant crime. President Wilson brands his denunciation of secret treaties with insincerity when he refuses Fiume to Italy, after her heroic sacrifices, and in obedience to secret treaties delivers Shantung to Japan, despite her course of studied selfishness in the Great War.
I fail to understand, Mr. President, why in the case of Japan a secret treaty is sanctified, while in the case of Italy it is condemned. I can explain it in no other way than by saying that Japan has become the Prussian of the Orient, and it was desired to placate her at the peace conference.
Italy is awakening to new life. She begins to show a resurrection of her mighty powers manifested through the centuries. Her Mediterranean and Adriatic ports are adapted to be gateways for an extensive commerce. With the danger of the dual empire and restless provinces on the east removed, she can again develop into a large factor in Europe. With the common peril to the Allies removed, it is difficult to resist the conclusion that Great Britain watches with jealous eye the chance of every European nation to divide her supremacy in foreign trade and merchant shipping. When the piping days of peace return, Great Britain, as of old, will look after her own affairs to the exclusion of all other countries.
... Italy is practically ignored in the material benefits apportioned to the Allies in the treaty. The reparation commission is controlled by those who inflict upon her this humiliation. England and France are the large beneficiaries of German indemnities. Italy is excluded.
... Not by my vote will I so requite our loyal associate in a common peril for her faith and her sacrifice. This great nation must be dealt with in terms of justice. Her men died amid Alpine snows, on the Piave, and in Macedonia. They fought in Siberia, in Lybia, within sight of Jerusalem's holy memories, and where Nineveh's crumbling walls tell of the unspeakable vanity of all human things. With one-thirty-second of the area of continental United States and one-third of our population, she sent 5,000,000 soldiers to bear arms under the colors of Italy and prove, not alone their allegiance to Victor Emanuel III and their country but their supreme faith in us and our associated nations. The epic of Italian heroism is written in blood from eastern France to the Holy Land, from the Baltic to the Sea of Galilee. Her unrequited faith and service cry from the Paris conference to this Senate Chamber for American justice. A league of nations born of repudiation of Italy's claims and the spoliation of China is cursed from birth with an irredeemable outrage on the rights of two ancient and friendly powers.
—Senator Lawrence Yates Sherman, Congressional Record: Proceedings and Debates of the 66th Congress of the United States of America, August 4, 1919

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Statements of Lawrence Yates Sherman on Fiume

Here we have the statements of Lawrence Yates Sherman, a United States senator who spoke before the U.S. Congress on August 4, 1919, on the Italianity of Fiume and Fiume's right to join Italy:
Passing north along the shore line the Istrian Peninsula suggests the port city of Fiume, the storm center of controversy at the peace conference.
Anciently Fiume was a part of Venice. In the age of that city's commercial glory, when she commanded respect by her wealth and power, Fiume dwelt in the overflow of her plenty and magnificence. She continued Italian until the Corsican, wielding the military strength of France, became the dispenser of thrones and gave territory to his military allies. Napoleon delivered Fiume with certain adjacent country to Austria. It remained a possession of the dual empire until Austria-Hungary toppled with Wilhelm II to defeat. When the London treaty of 1915 was concluded the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire was not foreseen. The results of such a division of territory were not undertaken to be anticipated. Fiume was a part of Hungary. It therefore, with the change in spirit and effect, has become a part of Italy's guaranteed frontier if she is to be protected on her Adriatic boundary as France is to be guaranteed against German aggression by the provisions of the treaty respecting the Rhine and the limitation on fortified posts. If France is given Alsace-Lorraine, Italy ought to have restored to her her Italia irredenta and be given Fiume, as her people ask.
Anciently Hungary was composed—down to the time of this treaty—of Hungary proper, of Croatia, of Fiume, and the adjacent district appurtenant to and subject to the free city of the earlier days of Fiume. Various smaller countries, including Croatia-Slavonia, are created into the Jugo-Slovakia State. If there is anything in self-determination, the city of Fiume, 75 per cent Italian, belongs to Italy and ought by simple justice alone to have been given her by the treaty agreed upon at the Paris conference. The various racial and political elements of the Jugo-Slavic government can not be fused into a homogeneous unit by a mere decree of the Paris conference. No covenant of the league of nations will obliterate the ancient feuds that have divided and reddened the Danube Provinces from Belgrade to Salonika. Tranquillity on Italy's Adriatic border, she knows full well, is not secured by the league of nations fiat. Italy takes counsel of human experiences. Her history reaches through many centuries. Her experiences with the nations of Europe abundantly justify her in asking adequate security for her boundary lines now. Since 1915 she can not forget that Croatian soldiers under Austrian colors fought Italian troops savagely. The Croatian forces carried spiked war clubs that would have done honor to a native of equatorial Africa or a Modoc Indian in North America. Italy knows the character of her eastern Danube Province neighbors. She believes in the peace league, as we do, and in adequate guaranties, as France believes, as evidenced by the treaty now pending in this Chamber... She has no faith that the Jugo-Slav State is so constituted that Italy will be well able to defend her frontiers unless the security claimed is given.
Fiume is the port city of the northeastern Adriatic. It is the converging point for the trade of the eastern interior. Its prospects for commercial importance are encouraging, and, with the blessings of peace, it will gather to itself commercial strength. The city is Italian in blood, language, and tradition. Italia irredenta from the Trentino to the south shore of Dalmatia is at least 65 per cent Italian by the ordinary tests applied in race analyses. Fiume in December, 1918, had a total population of 46,264, with 35,000 Italians. The vote of its people praying for union with Italy, taken October 30, 1918, less than two weeks before the armistice was signed, declared by an emphatic majority for that amalgamation. Self-determination, which has been a favorite solution of the problem on the lips of others, is invoked by Italy in vain. President Wilson turned a deaf ear to Italy, and Great Britain and France, somewhat relieved to have our Government assume responsibility, silently acquiesced. I should like to have seen Lloyd-George's face when he acquiesced or allowed it to pass unchallenged. I believe if he could have been observed, the honest Welshman would have been seen to blush.
Therefore Italy is told she can not profit by secret treaties for which she has paid the price in blood and a supreme good faith in keeping Italian national honor. She loses a commercial port and a naval base by a single stroke of the Wilson pen. Her northeastern defenses against future enemies are untenable under the settlement made by the Paris conference. A few days ago Croatia rebelled against her status in the new government. She demanded independence. The revolt was quelled, it is true, but its population is restless. There is no guaranty to Italy of stable conditions on her northeastern Adriatic shore, with Fiume in other hands.
... The new Jugo-Slav Republic is an experiment. ... Fiume is not the natural seaport for the larger part of this region. The cities east and southeast, more than a dozen in number, with over 500 miles of coast line, give access to the sea. Among these ports are Spalato and Cattaro. Both these ports are reached by railway connecting with Bosnia, Herzegovina, Slavonia, Serbia, and the hinterland. It is claimed this region of the Jugo-Slav State requires Fiume for the passage of its commerce. The groundlessness of this contention is exposed by showing that only 13 per cent of the imports and exports passed through Fiume before the war, while Croatia, the adjacent Province to Fiume, sent only 7 per cent of her entire imports and exports through this entrance to the Adriatic.
Fiume has been a separate body politic, annexed, however, to the Hungarian Crown. It has not been a part of Croatia. The Hungarian Parliament in 186S declared the right of Fiume, the city, the harbor, and the district to be such. Croatia on November 15, 1868, by its Diet, after full debate, accepted the Hungarian law, declaring Fiume a separate municipality or district by an almost unanimous vote. That vote has never been repealed or otherwise reversed.
It seems idle for Croatia and her Jugo-Slav associates now to set up claims to the city. Fiume is not only traditionally Italian, but her blood, customs, and soil have been Italian in act or spirit for centuries. While annexed to Hungary it was an artificial union, brought about by military force, which has never extirpated the Italian character. Therefore Italy is justified, when the Austro-Hungarian artificial jurisdiction founded upon force is destroyed as a result of the war, in asking to resume the natural relations subsisting between Fiume and the mother country.
Shantung is given Japan pursuant to a secret treaty exacted by the latter power in 1917 and notes of 1915 and 1918. It was the price of Japan's permission to China to declare war with the Allies and a part also of the price of Japan's nominal participation in the war. Japan's sacrifices are unworthy of mention with those of Italy. She watched the progress of the great war with an eye somewhat single to her own advantage. Her military forces fought the German in Shantung to seize the proceeds of Germany's robbery of China. Neither international law nor the new code of international morals based on the condemnation of secret treaties can justify the plunder of China. The league of nations and the peace treaty will be condemned by the impartial historian for the sanction of this flagrant crime. President Wilson brands his denunciation of secret treaties with insincerity when he refuses Fiume to Italy, after her heroic sacrifices, and in obedience to secret treaties delivers Shantung to Japan, despite her course of studied selfishness in the Great War.
... With Fiume handed over to the league of nations as a mandatory trust to be administered by four or five out of the nine on the council, or in the hands of a weaker nation with no foreign commerce, and especially under the provisions of the treaty, Great Britain's influence in that port will be paramount. That is a fort of her far-seeing policy. If I were an Englishman I would not criticize it, but as an American I do. I believe it to be part of her coming struggle to control the merchant shipping and the foreign commerce of Europe, as she has done for many centuries. Her people, she being at home an island empire, are a sea-faring people. The flag of her merchant shipping goes to the ports of every country. Both her regular lines of shipping and her tramp steamers are found wherever there is a commerce to gather. Following her well-known disposition therefore to take care of her commerce, to gather into her treasury and into her markets all that there is in Europe and in the Far East, she looks with an eye single to her own advantage upon the placing of Fiume in the hands of the league of nations to be administered under four-year limitations, with a vague promise that some time in the future it will be returned to Italy. As the Senator from New Hampshire suggests, with Italy in control, with Fiume an Italian port, Italy would have the advantage and not the British Empire; and this is where we, acting under the lead of our President, are expected to pull the British chestnuts out of the Commercial fire of the future.
... Italy is practically ignored in the material benefits apportioned to the Allies in the treaty. The reparation commission is controlled by those who inflict upon her this humiliation. England and France are the large beneficiaries of German indemnities. Italy is excluded. There can be no reply to her modest claims, fortified by the wish of the people of Fiume to be returned to their own people. It is no compensation to reply that Fiume is to be converted into a mandatory city, held by the league or some of the principal member powers. Like Shantung, to delay is to deny. If it can not be given now to Italy, if ingratitude manifests itself at this early stage, it will mature into open hostility at the end of any given period when Italy claims, by the self-determination of the people and her own rights, the annexation of the city.
—Lawrence Yates Sherman, Congressional Record: Proceedings and Debates of the 66th Congress of the United States of America, August 4, 1919

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

40 Days of Terror: The Yugoslav Occupation of Trieste

Trieste was under Yugoslav occupation from May 1 to June 12, 1945
and Western Allied occupation from June 1945 to October 26, 1954
(Image: Return of Trieste to Italy, 1954)

It is April 1945. The war is in its final stages. On April 28th Benito Mussolini and several members of the Italian government are assassinated by Italian Communist Partisans. On the following day, April 29th, General Heinrich von Vietinghoff, Supreme Commander of the German Forces in Italy, through his representative General Karl Wolff, accepts the unconditional surrender of Caserta imposed by British Field Marshal Harold Alexander, Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in the Mediterranean. Later that evening, Marshal Rodolfo Graziani, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Italian Social Republic, surrenders himself to the Anglo-Americans in Milan.

The bulk of the Wehrmacht is already in retreat. The troops of the Italian Social Republic have been ordered to disarm, but continue fighting in some parts of Piedmont and Julian Venetia. On April 30th most of Trieste is in the hands of Italian Partisans belonging to the National Liberation Committee (CNL). But with Josip Broz Tito's Yugoslav Partisans already penetrating the suburban villages and nearing the gates, the city of Trieste is full of anxious waiting, uncertain of its fate.

The Yugoslavs are in a hurry to arrive first in Trieste, ahead of the Anglo-Americans, so that they can claim credit for the “liberation” of Trieste and Julian Venetia, which – they hope – will force the Western Allies to recognize Yugoslavia's claims over Italy's northeastern territories – namely Julian Venetia, with Istria and Trieste – at the peace conference.

The Italian Partisans in control of Trieste since April 30th are comprised of Socialists, Liberals and Anti-Fascists, but not Communists. The Italian Communists of Julian Venetia instead follow the directive of Palmiro Togliatti, leader of the Italian Communist Party (PCI), who joined his Communist Partisans to the Italian-Slovenian Anti-Fascist Executive Committee (CEAIS), which is disassociated from the CLN and operates in favor of the Yugoslav Communists.

On May 1st, the Yugoslav Partisan 9th Corps – composed of Slovene Communists – enters Trieste and begin their infamous forty-two day occupation. The CLN is cast aside and the Yugoslav Partisans falsely claim responsibility for “liberating” Trieste. The Italian flags are lowered and in their place they raise red flags with the hammer and sickle and tricolor flags defaced with red stars, a Communist symbol used by Yugoslavia and other Communist countries.

The Western Allies arrive in Trieste the following day, on March 2nd, with the 2nd New Zealand Division commanded by Gen. Bernard Freyberg. The Yugoslavs, however, assume full powers in Trieste and the reign of terror begins. They entrust the command to Gen. Josip Cemi, who is replaced a few days later by Gen. Dusan Kveder. Franc Stoka, a Slovene Communist, is appointed as Political Commissar.

The city is ruled according to marshal law. They impose draconian ordinances restricting all freedom. Despite the war already being over, the Yugoslavs declare a “state of war” and impose a brutally long curfew from 3:00 PM to 10 AM. Citizens are only permitted to leave their homes for 5 hours per day. Trieste's clocks are also moved back one hour to match those of Belgrade, so that the city can be artificially placed in the same time zone as Yugoslavia.

The only legal newspaper is “Il Nostro Avvenire”, a Communist newspaper which serves an anti-Italian and pro-Yugoslav political agenda. All other newspapers are banned. Manifestations of national sentiment are strictly prohibited. Public gatherings are forbidden. All economic and industrial entities are seized. Movement of vehicles is restricted.

The Yugoslav Partisans use the slogan “Smrt Fazismu - Svoboda Narodu!” (“Death to Fascism - Freedom to the People!”) to justify their killing of non-Communists and those who are opposed to Yugoslav imperialist designs in Italy. The Yugoslav secret police, the OZNA, whose barbaric methods surpass those of the Gestapo, is given carte blanche to round up and imprison any Italians who are deemed a threat to Yugoslav occupation.

The “Guardia del Popolo” (also called “Difesa Popolare”) – a Yugoslav civilian police force composed of Slovene Communists – is also used as a political tool to influence the social fabric of the city. They go about the city seeking to eliminate non-Marxists and sow terror through violent repressions and ethnic cleansing.

Thousands of citizens are taken from their homes, on an average of one hundred per day, under the pretext of being “Fascists” or “Nazi collaborators”. Very few, however, are actually Fascists or collaborators; in fact most are ordinary Italian civilians; some are officers, and still others are even Socialists and combatants who fought among the Italian Partisans, who are also targeted by the Yugoslavs despite sharing the same anti-Fascist ideology.

On May 4th thousands of Yugoslav peasants arrive in Trieste, shouting their provocative slogan “Trst je nas!” (“Trieste is ours!”). On May 5th approximately 50,000 Italians organize a peaceful march in Trieste to protest against Yugoslav annexation plans. They wave Italian flags and sing Italian songs in a parade, to demonstrate that Trieste is an Italian city. A column of protesters turns onto Via Imbriani – a street in Trieste – whereupon the Yugoslav soldiers open fire on the unarmed civilians, killing five and wounding ten. Three of the victims are women.

This event will be remembered as the Massacre of Via Imbriani.

The names of the dead are:
  1. Graziano Novelli, 20 years old;
  2. Carlo Murra, 19 years old;
  3. Mirano Sanzin, 26 years old;
  4. Claudio Burla, 21 years old;
  5. Giovanna Drassich, 69 years old.
And the wounded:
  1. Albino Canaletti;
  2. Manlio De Mattia;
  3. Tancredi Kolarski, who is disabled as a result;
  4. Camillo Carmeli;
  5. Angelo Cavezza;
  6. Antonio Kreiser
  7. Augusto Mascia;
  8. Pina Solimossi;
  9. Renato Artico;
  10. Marialuisa Fonda.
Meanwhile, the Western Allies simply observe and report to their commanders, without intervening. On May 8, 1945 the U.S. State Department publishes a memorandum, stating:
“The Yugoslavs are even trying to establish civil control in the eastern part of Udine, the Italian province beyond Venezia Giulia. In Trieste the Yugoslavs are using all the familiar tactics of terror. Every Italian of any importance is being arrested. Yugoslavs have taken over complete control and are conscripting Italians for forced labor, seizing the banks and other valuable property, and requisitioning grain and other supplies on a large scale. The Archbishop of Gorizia and other priests have been arrested, and many others are threatened.”
In the city of Trieste and its environs, terror becomes the norm: Tito's goal is to “make Trieste Yugoslav” and annex the city to Yugoslavia. This is to be achieved through ethnic cleansing, by “cleansing” Trieste of Italians and replacing the population with Slavs.

Just as the Yugoslavs had already been devoting themselves to committing a true genocide in Dalmatia, Istria, Fiume and the rest of Julian Venetia, so too in Trieste the Italian population is subject to a serious attempt at ethnic cleansing. Several thousand Italians from Trieste disappear, simply vanishing without a trace and never return.

Many Italian citizens are killed in the Foibe Massacres; others are deported to concentration camps, such as the ones in Goli Otok or Borovnica, known as the antechamber of death. Trieste itself is transformed into one large concentration camp. They target not only Fascists, but also left-wing Italians, indiscriminately making slaughter of both Fascist and anti-Fascist, military and civilian, male and female, adult and child. Indiscriminate arrests, confiscations, requisitions, robberies and violence of all kinds exasperate the people of Trieste, who in vain plea for help from the Western Allies.

The Yugoslavs also begin to eliminate traces of Trieste's Italian character and openly Slavicize the toponyms. On May 19th the main street in Trieste, “Corso Italia”, is changed to “Corso Tito”.

Monsignor Antonio Santin, Bishop of Trieste and Capodistria, describes the atmosphere in the city:
“Everyone was filled with alarm and fear... Violence dominated the city; they attacked everything that was Italian. Every day Slovenes demonstrated throughout the city, with Yugoslav and Communist flags hanging from the windows. Hundreds upon hundreds of unarmed civilians, policemen and civil servants were taken away simply because they were Italians; they were thrown into the sinkholes at Basovizza and Opicina. Tied with barbed wire, they were placed on the edge of the pit and then killed with machine gun fire and plunged to the bottom.”
(Mons. Santin, “Al tramonto”, 1978)
The writer Silvio Benco likewise speaks of Trieste in those days:
“Pain and terror reigned in Trieste. We listened to the jubilation of so many people on the radio, people living in the happily liberated cities... but over us loomed the degradation of being cheated by fate.
All that the city had loved was attacked, denied, suppressed, covered by myriads of foreign labels like a funeral blanket; the Flag of the Italian Nation was shot with bullets, monuments were besmirched, soldiers were camped at the base of the statue of Giuseppe Verdi... Never before had Trieste suffered such cruel deformation of her face and inversion of her sentiments.
Nor could Italians be certain of their lives: every night the Yugoslavs searched homes and took away people on trucks, some of whom never came back. Every day thousands of citizens from the other provinces of Italy [occupied by the Yugoslavs] fled towards the Isonzo, even on foot; and when, in response to all this anguish, a huge crowd gathered in the streets shouting "Italy! Italy!", machine guns unloaded on them.
It seemed that the very name of Italy was to be dead and buried.”
(Silvio Benco, “Contemplazione del disordine”, 1946)
The Anglo-Americans, in need of the port of Trieste for their own lines of communication to Central Europe, and finding that Tito proved himself each day more and more unreliable and no better than a tyrant, finally force the Yugoslav troops to withdraw from Trieste and retire beyond the Morgan Line. On June 9th, in Belgrade, the Yugoslav dictator and his Chief of Staff Gen. Arso Jovanovich sign an agreement with the Anglo-Americans.

Before leaving Trieste, the Yugoslavs take everything they can load onto their vehicles. They clean out the Bank of Italy, stealing 183 million lire – equivalent to $1.83 million according to the exchange rates in Allied-occupied Italy (or approx. $9.6 million according to pre-war exchange rates).

On June 12, 1945 the Yugoslav occupation officially ends. But some of their ardent supporters stay behind, and these elements will clandestinely continue the Yugoslav struggle against Italians, resorting to terrorist activities, such as kidnapping and killing of Italian civilians.

The citizens of Trieste joyfully celebrate when the Yugoslavs leave. However, the agreement signed between the Yugoslavs and the Anglo-Americans, known as the Belgrade Agreement, also constitutes the devastating loss of Italian Istria, which is to remain under Yugoslav occupation.

The Western Allies militarily occupy Trieste for the next nine years, until it is finally reunited with Italy on October 26, 1954.

See also:
40 Days of Trieste: Slavs Celebrate a Communist Dictator
April 25: The Feast of San Marco – Not Liberation
Trieste, the Most Italian City

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

April 25: The Feast of San Marco – Not Liberation

Feast of St. Mark (Festa di San Marco)

On April 25, while most of Italy is celebrating the Feast of the so-called “Liberation”, the Julian-Dalmatian exiles are celebrating another feast: that of St. Mark.

Official mainstream historiography, written by the victors of war, depicts April 25 as a day of joy and celebration, a day which represents the liberation of Italy from Fascism, the reintroduction of democracy and Italian freedom, and the end of the Second World War. Such an interpretation ignores the terrible crimes and atrocities committed by the Allied Powers in Italy, the brutal violence and massacres perpetrated by the bands of partisan terrorists, the many persecutions conducted by the Communists, the Allied restoration of the Mafia, and the silent war that carried on in many Italian regions even after the official cessation of hostilities.

Not to mention the de facto loss of Italian sovereignty that took place a result of the occupation of Italy by the Allies – an occupation which reduced Italy to political and economic slavery. It is a precarious and rarely spoken of political situation that continues today (there are now more than 100 U.S. military bases on Italian soil, an open demonstration of ongoing foreign occupation).

Was April 25th truly a liberation? Let’s recount a few historical facts:
  • Was it a “liberation” for the 1,000 Italian civilians killed in Bari on December 2, 1943 as a result of illegal poison gas secretly smuggled into Italy by the Allies?
  • Was it a “liberation” for the 3,000 men, women and children raped and sodomized near Monte Cassino by French Moroccan troops during the Marocchinate in May-June 1944?
  • Was it a “liberation” for the 614 school children and civilians of Milan, killed by American bombers in the Gorla Massacre on October 20, 1944?
  • Was it a “liberation” for the hundreds of Catholic priests and religious slaughtered by the Communist Partisans between 1943 and 1947?
  • Was it a “liberation” for the city of Trieste, whose population was terrorized by the Yugoslavs, and which remained under Allied occupation until October 26, 1954?
  • Was it a “liberation” for the 20,000-30,000 civilians slaughtered in the Foibe Massacres and the 350,000 Italians forced into exile between 1943 and 1954?
To celebrate April 25th as a national holiday – and to call it a “Day of Liberation” – is an insult to these victims and to all other Italian victims of the war. It is also shameful and disrespectful to all those courageous soldiers who fought under the Italian flag, shedding their blood and sacrificing their lives in battle against those same invaders who are hailed today as “liberators” of the country.

For the Italians of Istria and Dalmatia, April 25th represents genocide, deportation to concentration camps, the massacre of thousands of Italian civilians, the rape, torture, persecution and terror suffered at the hands of the Yugoslav Partisans, the occupation and annexation of Istria and Dalmatia by the Yugoslav Communists, and the expulsion of Italians from their native homeland.

Asking the Italians of Istria, Dalmatia and the Quarnaro to celebrate such events by observing April 25 as a “Day of Liberation” is the same as asking the Jews and Poles to observe September 1 in celebration of the Invasion and Occupation of Poland.

Therefore, Julian-Dalmatian Exiles look to another April 25th: the feast of St. Mark.

The Feast of St. Mark is a liturgical celebration in the Catholic Church, observed universally by the whole church on April 25. Although celebrated throughout the world, the feast is celebrated most energetically in the city of Venice. It almost carries the status of a national feast. St. Mark has always had a special place among the Venetians: he is the patron of the city, and the famous Lion of St. Mark – the ancient symbol of the Republic of Venice – is none other than a symbolic representation of Venice's great patron saint.

Every place the Venetians went, they carried with them the Lion of St. Mark, the symbol of Venetian civilization. In Istria and Dalmatia the palaces, churches and fortresses proudly displayed the Venetian Lion of San Marco. Despite the attempts of the Slavs to dismantle or chisel them away since occupying and partitioning that territory after the war, these lions are still present today, and bear witness to the Italic roots of the culture, history and language of that region.

St. Mark, with all he represents, thus hold a very dear place in the hearts of the Julian-Dalmatian Italians, most of whom are still living in exile in Italy. For them, their hearts and minds are now turned to him on April 25th; not to the disgraceful Day of “Liberation”, but to San Marco, the sacred patron and representative of the culture and civilization of their lost homeland, which today is at the mercy of Croatian and Slovenian occupiers.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

The Placitum of Risano

The Placitum of Risano (Italian: Placito del Risano; Latin: Placitum Risanum) is a document issued by an Istrian assembly held at Risano, near Capodistria, in the year 804. It is the most important historical document from Istria in the Early Middle Ages.

Among other things, the placitum is noteworthy for its complaints against Slavic immigrants in Istria. The document is preserved in the National Archives in Venice, Italy.

Historical Background

In the Early Middle Ages, following the collapse of the Roman Empire, Istria successively belonged to the Kingdom of Italy (476-538), Exarchate of Italy (584-751) and Kingdom of Italy (751-952).

Since 774 the Kingdom of Italy had come under the rule of the Carolingian dynasty, who ousted the Longobards from power. During this transfer of power, Istria briefly returned to Byzantine rule. But by 788-789 Istria was fully reintegrated into the Kingdom of Italy under the new Carolingian rulers.

In 799 the King of Italy established the March of Istria, a frontier land within the Kingdom of Italy, designed to protect Italy from invaders – more specifically to keep the Avars, Slavs and Magyars out of Italy. In the following year, Charlemagne was crowned Emperor and the Kingdom of Italy (with Istria) became a constituent kingdom of the Carolingian Empire.

The population of Istria was Latin-speaking and Italian in origin. They clung stubbornly to their Roman laws and heritage. The Slavs had made their first incursions into Istria between 599 and 600. Throughout the first half of the 7th century the Slavs and the Avars made numerous raids into Istria, plundering and destroying many cities, but they never made any permanent settlement in the region.

At the turn of the 9th century Slavs were settled in Istria for the first time; they were brought in as servants to work the land as vassals by John, the Carolingian Duke of Istria. This was fiercely opposed by the native Roman inhabitants. The duke was accused by the Istrians of bringing foreigners into their land, of misusing taxes, and of committing a number of other violations against the rights and privileges they had enjoyed since Roman and Byzantine times.

The Placitum of Risano

In 804 an assembly was convened at Risano, a small town near Capodistria. Here the people of Istria issued a series of complaints addressed to Charlemagne. The acts of the assembly were recorded in a document known as the Placitum of Risano. The document was drawn up by Peter, a deacon of the church of Aquileia, at the behest of Patriarch Fortunatus of Grado.

The assembly was attended by Duke John, by three imperial emissaries, and by 172 juridical witnesses who were selected as local representatives of the Istrian cities and castles. These representatives came from Trieste, Parenzo, Pola, Rovigno, Pedena, Pinguente, Montona, Cittanova, Albona, and several other Istrian towns.

The Istrians swore upon the Gospels and the relics of saints that they would tell the truth, and then proceeded to express their grievances. Among other things, the Istrians complained that Duke John had violated the customs of the country by inviting Slavic immigrants to settle in their land. They further complained that these Slavs usurped their property and threatened to kill the Istrians:
“Moreover he [Duke John] introduced Slavs on our lands: they plough our lands and our clearings, they make hay from our meadows, they use our pasture, and they pay a due to John from these our lands. Now we no longer have cows or horses. And if we say anything, they say that they will kill us.”
The Istrians conclude by saying it would be better to die than to live and be forced to endure such a state of affairs with the Slavs and Duke John:
“For three years we have given the tithes that we owe to the holy church to the pagan Slavs, when John installed them upon the lands of the churches and our people, to his sin and to our perdition. We do all these duties which we have mentioned under violent constraint, which our ancestors never did. And so we are all entering into poverty. And our kinsmen and neighbours in Venice and Dalmatia, and even the Greeks under whose power we formerly were, deride us. If the lord Emperor Charles can rescue us, we can escape; otherwise, it is better for us to die than to live.”
In response to these protests, Charlemagne's emissaries admitted that the duke had abused the Istrian population; they agreed to restore the old Roman customs and to stop Slavic immigration in Istria. Duke John apologized and offered to expel the Slavs back to their own land:
“About the Slavs you have mentioned: let us go to the places where they reside, and let us see where they can stay without damage to you. If afterwards they cause damage to the fields, the woods or the clearances, or any other thing, we shall expel them. Or, if it pleases you better, let us move them to deserted places where they can be of use like other people.”
As a compromise, the Slavs who were introduced by John were settled in some uncultivated districts in the Istrian countryside, where they could work the land as servants, with the permission of the neighbouring Istrian locals. This was the first permanent settlement of Slavs in Istria.

This settlement did not last long, however, as there is no further documentary evidence of any Slavic presence in Istria again until the 12th century.

Full text:
Placitum of Risano (English)
Placitum of Risano (Italian)
Placitum of Risano (Latin)

Friday, February 23, 2018

The Italian Aims in the Adriatic: Dalmatia, Fiume and the Other Unredeemed Lands of the Eastern Frontier of Italy

(Written by Alberto da Giussano, taken from the magazine “Il Carroccio”, Volume 6, July 1917)

Italy, after defeating Austria-Hungary must claim all the lands embraced between the Adriatic and the Julian and Dinaric Alps i.e., eastern Friuli, Istria with Trieste and Fiume, and all Dalmatia; whilst leaving to the Croatians and to the Serbians commercial ports of their own on the Adriatic.

All the "unredeemed" lands of the Adriatic coast have century-old Italian traditions dating back to their earliest Latin inhabitants. Even at Fiume, where until recent years, the Latin tradition seemed least certain, recent excavations have shown that the original seed, which later on had such a vigorous fruition, was sown by Rome.

Geographically not only eastern Friuli and Istria as far as the old classic frontier of Arsa, but also Fiume and Dalmatia are Italian, for they are situated on this side of the watershed which divides the affluents of the Danube from those rivers which flow into the Adriatic.

Culture, geography and history are the factors which detract from the purely numerical importance of statistic in those parts where they seem unfavorable to the Italians. But even statistics support Italian claims in a large portion of these unredeemed lands despite the systematic bad faith of the Government which compiled them.

Friuli, Trieste and Istria

The fact that these lands belong geographically to the Appenine Peninsula is not seriously disputed even by German geographers. The fact has been universally admitted for thousands of years.

The Julian Alps clearly divide eastern Friuli and the territory of Gorizia from the Carniola. The division is distinct even as regards the character of the landscape which, on this side of the Alps, is thoroughly Italian.

Starting from Monte Nero the Julian Alps "follow, above Idria, the administrative boundary line between the coast and the province of Carniola, through the pass of Planina-Circhina. From Idria they run, mainly in a south-easterly direction, along the heights which command the road from Idria to Planina, near the river Uncia, dividing Italy from the Slav lands at the central pass of Longatico (Unterloitsch) and including, to the west, the forests of Tarnova and Piro. From Longatico skirting the western heights, they follow the Trieste-Laibach railway line as far as Postumia (which they leave to the west) following the administrative boundary line along the ridge of the Albi mountains, whence they descend, embracing Fiume and some square miles of Croatia, and join the sea at about the level of Buccari, opposite the head-land of San Marco, which is part of the Italian territory". (1)

The official Austrian statistic for 1910 return 90,119 Italian speaking inhabitants in eastern Friuli. (2) The Slovacs, according to these same statistic, number 154,564. A calculation which may be considered reliable because it is based on electoral returns, gives, on the other hand, the following figures:
Italians subject to Austria 112,000
Italians subject to Italy 8,000
Slavs 130,000
Germans 3,500
According to these figures the number of Italians is almost equal to that of the Slavs. But the Italians almost all belong to the urban population, they are the more highly educated and have therefore a distinctly higher national value. So notable is this superiority that even if they only numbered 90,000, as the Austrian statistics try to make out, the national character of these lands would not be changed, for it is and continues to be Italian.

The very name of Eastern or Austrian Friuli used in the official acts of the Vienna government, is proof that Goritian Friuli is an integral part of that Friuli already united to the mother-country.

At Trieste in 1910 the Austrian statistics show that out of 229,000 inhabitants, 118,959 are Italian, 56,916 Slovacs, and 11,856 Germans. To convince us that these, like all the other figures of the Austrian census are falsified, we need only look up the official returns of the 1900 census which gave 116,825 Italians, and 24,679 Slovacs. Nor is this all: the K. K. Central Kommission fur statistik (of Vienna) in 1913 declared that the returns of the Austrian census at Trieste exaggerated the number of the Slav inhabitants.

The truth is that in 1910 the Italians of Trieste, inclusive of those who could claim Italian citizenship (almost all of whom were natives of Trieste) numbered 182,113, and the Slovacs who mostly dwell in the hilly section of the town, numbered 37,063, of whom over 45 per cent are immigrants of recent date.

In Istria the Austrian statistics place the number of Italians at 147,417, Slovacs 55,134, Croatians 168,184. It is evident that these figures also need correcting. In Istria as in eastern Friuli the number of Italians is nearly equal to that of the Slavs; but here again the former account for the educated section of the population and form one national unit, whereas the Slavs are partly Croats and partly Slovacs, that is to say they belong to peoples speaking different languages. Moreover, almost all the Slavs speak Italian and many of them speak dialects so full of Italian words that more than one glottologist has been in doubt whether to classify them among Italian or Slav dialects.

Considered as a whole, Friuli (Provinces of Gorizia and Gradisca), Trieste, and Istria, which are divided by no natural barrier and which should, therefore, be considered as forming one region, that of Julian Venetia, were inhabited in 1910 by over half a million Italians as against not more than 350,000 Croats and Slovacs. Nor does this take into account Fiume, which likewise forms part of Istria and, therefore, of Julian Venetia, and where the Italians form 65 per cent.


Fiume, situated at the eastern base of the Istrian peninsula, belongs geographically to Istria to which it belonged politically until 1776.

The eastern frontier of Istria, which some place at the Arsa, the original frontier of the tenth Augustean Region, is really formed by the watershed of the Julian Alps which descend to the sea at the Canale della Montagna, opposite the headland of St. Mark, near the island of Veglia.

The boundary line formed by the Arsa had a purely administrative value in the time of Augustus; had it been the military frontier the Romans would not have built further east, for the defence of Italy, the two great Valli of the Julian Alps. The majestic ruins of one of these works can still be seen, following for some distance the course of the Fiumara, a stream which forms the political boundary line between Fiume and Croatia.

But, as stated above, the real geographical frontier lies further to the southeast, on the crest of the Julian Alps, and includes, besides Fiume, the sea towns of Buccari and Portoré.

Until February 1914, the origin of Fiume was unknown. An arch between two houses in the old part of the town, traditionally known as the "Roman arch", and the junction on its present location of many Roman roads, as shown by the Itinerari and the geography of Claudius Ptolomy, afforded grounds for supposing it to be of Latin origin.

The majority now incline to identify Fiume with Tarsatica, rebuilt after its destruction, clear traces of which were found in the Roman foundations on which the mediaeval city was built.

The ancient Roman Oppidum, for such Tarsatica had been, reappears in the middle ages under the name of San Vito al Fiume, known later on as Fiume, a name which the Slavs translated by the word Ricka, a Croatian word for watercourse. San Vito is still the patron saint of the town to whom the principal church is dedicated.

All known documents relating to the city of Fiume bear witness to its uninterruptedly Italian character, which victoriously survived the Slav invasion in the 7th century which, for a time, seemed to have submerged every thing.

In 1776 Maria Theresa made over Fiume to Hungary and — as result of the protests of the inhabitants — a royal decree of April 23rd, 1779, proclaimed it to be a separate body annexed to the crown of the kingdom of Hungary.

In 1848 it was taken from Hungary by the Croatians of the Bano Jelacic, who held on to it for nineteen years without succeeding, spite of tenacious endeavours, in undermining its Italian character, and in 1867, on the dualistic settlements between Austria and Hungary, it was restored to this latter.

At present Fiume is governed on the basis of a "provisional arrangement".

In 1863 the so-called "deputations of the kingdom of Hungary, Croatia and Fiume" met at Budapest and decided that "the free city of Fiume and its territory" should remain, in accordance with the charter of 1779, a separate body provisionally annexed to Hungary, corpus separatum adnexum sacrae Regni coronae.

In the first years after 1868 the autonomy and the Italian character of Fiume were respected. But for nearly twenty years the Italians of Fiume, harassed on all sides, struggling against the Croatians and the Magyars who have done every thing in their power to denationalise them, have been engaged in a desperate but so far victorious fight in defence of their threatened Italian nationality.

The Italian character of Fiume is irrefutably proven, even by the government census returns.

These figures show that in 1910 there were 24,000 Italians in Fiume (exclusive of some 6000 Italian citizens most of them natives of Fiume), 12,000 Slavs (Croats, Serbs, and some Slovacs) and 6400 Magyars.

The fact is that before the war at least 35,000 of the 54,000 inhabitants of Fiume were Italians, that is to say 65% as compared to 28% of Slavs and 6% of Magyars.

Economically speaking Fiume is of the greatest importance to any nation which wishes to command the Adriatic. Only some 50 kms. from Trieste as the crow flies, and connected up with the railway system of St. Pietro along which run the express trains from Fiume to Vienna and from Trieste to Vienna, this Adriatic town could easily gain command of all the commerce of the Trieste hinterland. It is therefore necessary that the country which is to possess Trieste, i.e. Italy, should also hold Fiume. From this point of view Fiume may be considered the economic fulcrum of the Adriatic.

Strategically Fiume is of great importance, not so much for the command of the seas — for the country which holds the Quarnero Islands holds the keys to the Adriatic — but because without Fiume Italy would be deprived of the natural barrier of the Julian Alps, the only valid obstacle to future possible invasions, and the geographic unity of Julian Venetia would be disrupted.

Nationally speaking Fiume may be considered, as Rome formerly considered Tarsatica, as an advanced sentinel of our race. Fiume is a Latin fortress which has withstood for centuries the attacks of diverse peoples; it is a centre radiating Italian culture on the borders of Italy; it is the eastern vertex of the "fated triangle" (Trieste, Pola, Fiume); it is one of the three hinges of Italianism in Istria. Should Fiume be abandoned to Croatia or to Hungary the national character of Istria would be endangered in the whole of its eastern section.

Fiume has always asserted its complete independence from all connection with Croatia. Until the end of the xvm century the Croats themselves recognized that Fiume did not belong to Croatia. In 1779 the Chancellery at Vienna recognized indirectly that Fiume belonged to Italy. In 1882 that same Chancellery denied that Fiume was Croatian. Until the outbreak of the European war the inhabitants of Fiume themselves continued admist struggles and sacrifices of all kinds to repeat this negation.

The Coast From Fiume to Dalmatia

The watershed between the Danube and the Adriatic divides the Croatian coast between Fiume and Dalmatia from the hinterland. But so inconsiderable is the distance which separates this drainage area from the coast that it could only be held with difficulty by a state which had not possession of the hinterland.

The coast line between Fiume and Dalmatia extends for a length of some 130 kms. and boasts some good harbours which would be more than sufficient for the needs of an independent Croatia.

The Croatians — if they have possession of their own coast — have not even a pretext for claiming Fiume in the name of their economic needs, just as Hungary, cut off from the sea by at least 300 kms. of Croatian territory, cannot justly lay claim to that city. It should be noted that Croatia's share in the traffic of the port of Fiume only amounts to 4 per cent of the annual movement and that to reach the port of Fiume the Croatian railway has to make a detour which it could avoid were it to run to its own sea coast.


Dalmatia is an Adriatic territory and as such belongs to the orohydrographic system of Italy.

Throughout the innumerable islands of its archipelago it displays the same geological and morphological features as Istria. It is clearly divided from the Balkan peninsula by a high chain of mountains almost everywhere rising above 1500 metres.

The studies made by Prof. Danielli of Florence on the flora and fauna of Dalmatia show that the Dinaric Alps divide two very different regions, one of which, Dalmatia, preserves all the characteristics of the Italian lands.

Dalmatia, cut off from the Balkans by the mountains, is joined to Italy by the sea, and some particulars, studied with great interest by geologists, lead to the supposition that the Adriatic, before it became a sea, was a continuation of the Paduan plain. Even now the Adriatic seems less like a sea than a great lake within the territory which is bounded to the east by the Julian and the Dinaric Alps and to the west by the Appenines.

There is only one gate open in this mountain barrier, that of the Narenta. But this does not mean that the Narenta is necessarily a frontier. South of this river, Hertzegovina stretches in two points to the sea, at the bay of Neum-Klek, north of Ragusa, and at Suttorino at the Bocche di Cattaro. The country which shall possess Hertzegovina will therefore have two natural outlets in the southern Adriatic.

Dalmatia was Roman from the 2nd century B.C. until the fall of the Western Empire. Four Roman Emperors were Dalmatian, amongst whom Diocletian, founder of Spalato.

On the fall of Rome it was in Dalmatia that the Western Empire still survived for some decades.

The Dalmatian cities, prosperous Latin communities, governed themselves freely even after the fall of Rome, obeying their own laws and statutes which were purely Italo-Roman in character, untainted by German barbaric feudalism. At first they were under the protection of the Roman Empire of the East, and subsequently they became independent republics, following the example of the free Italian communes. In 1409 they passed definitely under Venetian rule, which retained suzerainty over them until 1797, though they always retained their municipal autonomy. Like Rome, Venice conquered Dalmatia, determined thereto by the absolute necessity of commanding the Adriatic, a command essential to the life of Italy.

In [1815] Dalmatia came under Austrian rule as having formed part of the Kingdom of Italy of Napoleon I.

Austria respected the Italian character of Dalmatia until 1866; but after the loss of Lombardy and Venetia a policy was adopted which aimed at fostering the Croatian element in this region. Little by little, by means of unheard of violence and fraud, the municipalities of the Dalmatian cities, which had been Italian for centuries, passed into the hands of the Slavs. Courageous Zara alone managed to hold out, and preserved intact its Italian patrimony and Italian municipality.

Dalmatia, like Fiume, has been Catholic ever since the days of the Apostles. The members of the Orthodox Church in Dalmatia are about 90,000 almost all descendents of fugitives who settled at Cattaro or on the Bosnian frontier, driven there by the Ottoman armies.

Dalmatian civilization is solely and exclusively Latin and Italian. The eastern Balcanic civilization begins on the further side of the Dinaric watershed, which forms the natural frontier between the Balkans and Dalmatia.

The contribution which Dalmatia has in all times given to the Italian motherland in sciences, letters, civil and military arts, is indeed notable.

All the Dalmatian cities, even the small towns of the archipelago, are real gems of Latin and Italian art. One of the most beautiful is Ragusa, situated in a picturesque and highly fertile district. The palace of Diocletian at Spalato, and the two cathedrals of Traù and Sebenico, the cathedral of Zara, and the palace of the Rectors at Ragusa, are undoubtedly real masterpieces in the national art treasury of Italy.

The economic life of Dalmatia is almost entirely in the hands of the Italian bourgeoisie, and consequently is part of the national wealth of Italy.

Landed property in the north and the centre as far as the Narenta, is two thirds Italian, and in the islands is entirely so. The Slavs are peasants, either renters or metayers. And even south of the Narenta there are large Italian estates.

As stated above the Italians of Dalmatia are autoctonous, the descendents of Roman settlers and of Illyrian (not Slavonic) natives Latinised by the Roman conquest. In the 4th century of our era all Dalmatia was Latin. The Czech professor, Jirecek, in his Denkschriften of the Vienna Academy (Number 48-49 a, 1901), the German Mayer Lubke, and the Istrian Matteo Bartoli in the proceedings of the Academy, spite of the wishes and requests of the Austrian government, have shown the uninterrupted continuity in the evolution of the Latin language and nationality in Dalmatia from the times of the Romans to our day. In the middle-ages Dalmatia had a neo-Latin dialect of its own, designated by these writers as "neo-Dalmatic", later on absorbed and transformed by the Venetian dialect which spread all along the eastern coast of the Adriatic.

It is well to remember that Milovanovic, Serbian minister of foreign affairs, in October 1909, when interviewed at Belgrade by Dr. Alexander Dudan, correspondent of the Tribuna, in the presence of the Serbian poet Ducic, now secretary to the Serbian legation at Athens, made the following declaration: "The Croatians of Dalmatia in their anti-Italian agitation are the mere agents and tools of the Austrian police, to make mischief between Italy and the Slav world, more especially between Italy and Serbia."

The "Jugoslav" claims to Dalmatia are as recent as they are unfounded. "Jugoslavism" is the latest Austrian find, which aims at drawing the Serbians within its orbit; absorbing them in a triplicist movement (Austria-Hungary-Jugoslavia). There is no such thing as a Jugoslav nation, and there is no history, nor language, nor literature which bears that name. The newly-coined word (jug — south; Jugoslavi — southern Slavs) is a mere longitudinal indication. The people neither knows nor understands it. It includes Bulgarians, Serbians, Croatians, Montenegrans, and Slovacs, that is to say five histories, three languages (Bulgarian, Serbo-Croatian, Slovac), two religions (Orthodox for the Bulgarians, Serbians, and Montenegrans; Catholic for the others), five separate national consciences. Dalmatia cannot be included in any way in this artificial conception of a Jugoslav nation.

The few Croatian and Slovac agitators who, under the pretext of Jugoslavism tour the capitals of the allied countries, carrying on a propaganda directed more especially against Italian aspirations on the Adriatic, be said to represent either the Croatians or the Slovacs of Austria-Hungary, and still less can they be said to represent the friends or the allies of the Entente. This is so because, in the first place, until the European war broke out these very agitators were the instruments of Austrian policy directed against Italy and against Serbia. In the second place, because the very Croatian and Slovac political parties to which they belonged until the outbreak of the war, and their political colleagues (presidents of provinces, and of provincial parliaments, deputies and podestàs) still continue, after years of war, to be the agents and servants of the Austrian and Hungarian governments; they still continue to support Vienna and Budapest, and consequently Berlin in the war against Italy and all the Allies.

The Austrian census, drawn up by Austro-Croatian agents, only returns 20 thousands Italians out of a population of 620 thousand inhabitants. But there are at least 60 thousand Italians in Dalmatia exclusive of those who are Italian subjects. This figure is obtained from the electoral returns for 1911 in which the Italian candidates obtained 10 per cent of the total poll and by other competent statisticians. The Italian speaking inhabitants amount to 200,000, and it may be said that the only Dalmatians who do not understand Italian are the illiterates who can neither read nor write. (3)

Dalmatia is essential to the safety of Italy on the Adriatic. And, be it noted, we say Dalmatia and not only the islands, which it would be impossible to defend economically and strategically if they were divided from the mainland. Such a division would be a national injustice to the Dalmatians, and a source of constant unrest.

If Dalmatia were to remain separated from Italy, the Italian nationalist movement, which has always existed, would continue to subsist, and would become all the more vigorous, passionate and turbulent as the growing importance of Italy would render its ideal ever more vivid, intense, and fascinating.

It must be remembered that from a military standpoint the coast is the key to power on the Adriatic. Pola is of importance only for the protection of Trieste and Fiume, and its value is defensive.

The ports which are valuable for an offensive against the Italian coast are the two formidable harbors of Sebenico and Cattaro. The islands are only the outlying works of those ports.

The purpose of Italy is not to defend herself against a danger which threatens her in the Eastern Adriatic but to do away once and for all with that danger. Her purpose is to secure for herself absolute freedom in her own sea.

Like Rome and Venice, Italy needs Dalmatia to ensure her peace and safety.


(1) Scipio Slataper — "I confini necessari all'Italia", Turin, 1915.

(2) In speaking of figures and numerical comparisons of populations we should remember to note the great importance of the fact that we can only refer to statistics compiled before the war. We are therefore discussing a situation which has since been profoundly modified, and which owing to these modifications, cannot be used as the basis for Italian claims. The Slav population immigrated, largely at the instigation of the Vienese government, into Italian lands and very probably it will follow this same government in its retreat. Thus the Carso to-day is deserted. How many Slovacs will wish to return to this corner of Italy become once more politically Italian? At Gorizia there were some thousands of Slavs (Slovacs, Croats, Serbs, Poles, Ruthenians, and Bohemians) whom Austria had forcibly placed in the government bureaus. Will any of these return? It is thus evident that under these conditions figures are poor arguments devoid of meaning.

(3) Those who raise conscientious objections with regard to the Slav-speaking populations who would be embodied in greater Italy, would do well to remember the 2 million German speaking inhabitants of Alsace-Lorraine who will return to France, the 3 to 4 million Germans who will form part of the future kingdom of Bohemia, the Germans of Poland, the Bulgarians in Serbian Macedonia, the Turks and Greeks in Constantinople and Asia Minor, to mention only the transformations of the near future.