Saturday, October 4, 2014

Statement of Ernest Papich on Fiume

We have here the statements of a native of Fiume—Mr. Ernest Papich—who spoke before the United States senate on September 5, 1919:
Mr. Chairman and honorable Senators, I am an American citizen. I was born at Fiume. My family has belonged for generations to the city of Fiume. I left Fiume, as many others did, refusing to be under Austrian military rule, and came to this country to become a good and faithful citizen.

I asked to come before this committee to assert and to describe the spirit of my native city.

My first words were in the Italian language, and through my childhood I did not hear any other language but Italian, which is not only spoken by the great majority of our population but venerated with pride as our most sacred link with our motherland, Italy.

I will tell you also that my fellow citizens never thought of any other country but Italy, and that the small minority of Slavs at Fiume were never seriously spoken of and never were represented in any municipal activity.

My fellow citizens are ready to die and to defend their world-wide, well-known Italian sentiment. At Fiume not only the hearts of the population but even the stones are Italian.

Buildings, churches, and monuments were built by Italians thousands of years ago. Hard as these stones is the will of Fiume to defend and preserve the Italianity of their city.

My fellow countrymen fought for this sentiment hundreds of battles, and they hope now that this one will be their last struggle.

Fiume, according to history having always been an independent and free city, is entitled as any other free people to recognition and respect. It is simply repugnant to me to think that anybody else shall contest Fiume's own wishes after so much suffering and the many sacrifices of its people.

I was recently informed by a friend of mine, who is a member of the National Council of Fiume, that there is only one watchword: "Italy or death!"
—Mr. Ernest Papich, Hearing Before the Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate, Sixty-Sixth Congress, September 5, 1919