Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The Agony of Italian Dalmatia Under Franz Joseph

(Written by Marco Vigna, taken from the periodical “Nuovo monitore napoletano”, October 20, 2013.)

The writer and literary critic Claudio Magris coined the fortunate expression "Habsburg myth" to describe the image presented in literature by some writers of Mitteleuropa of an orderly and cosmopolitan Habsburg Empire capable of ensuring coexistence between its various peoples.

But this precisely is a "myth" of literary origin: the historical reality was quite different.

Magris himself stated that his book was specifically written to criticize and demolish the myth itself, but some people misunderstood this and thought it was an exaltation.

After World War I the Austrian Empire underwent a literary reconstruction that struck the public imagination, but which had very little correspondence to historical reality.

The discrepancy between the actual history of the Habsburg State and its imaginary romantic vision corresponds, roughly, to that existing between historiography and literature.

Moreover, as noted by Magris himself, the same literature that created the "Habsburg myth" showcases itself as characteristically ambivalent in its judgment on the late imperial state, so that its most representative author, Robert Musil [1], in The Man Without Qualities, highlights the substantial void upon which the Empire vainly sought to find something of unifying value for the celebration of the anniversary of Franz Joseph.

Musil's text provides a vastly different (and demonstrably false) image of the Habsburg Empire during the time before its collapse: it presents a plot parallel to that of Hamlet, and reads like a dramatic romance novel.

The famous nickname of "Kakanien" (a neologism created by Musil, from the German 'kaka') is still used today to describe the Austro-Hungarian Empire:
"This notion of the Austro-Hungarian Empire was so curiously contrived that it seems almost futile to attempt to explain it to those who do not have any personal experience. There was no Austrian part and Hungarian part which formed a single whole, as some might think. Instead, there was a Hungarian statal concept and an Austro-Hungarian statal concept, so that an Austrian statal concept was basically absent of any fatherland. ... Many called themselves Poles, Czechs, Slovenes or Germans, and this produced further divisions." [2]
The "noble father" of American historiography on Austria, Arthur J. May, in his important and influential work The Passing of the Habsburg Monarchy concludes the Austro-Hungarian Empire suffered from a serious internal crisis. He also rejects the Habsburg myth.

May believes that this nostalgic and imaginative rehabilitation of the late Habsburg state arose only when Stalin took possession of much of the old imperial territories at the end of World War II. [3]

The role of Habsburg Austria in keeping Italy internally divided and submissive to foreigners is pretty well known in Italy.

Less prevalent, however, is awareness of how the Empire directly attacked Italian national identity, with the goal of ethnic cleansing and denationalization.

Under Habsburg rule, Lombardy-Venetia was tightly-controlled by the Viennese central government, [4] who imposed a forced Germanization from the top-down, [5] which was denounced by Italian political representatives and civilians.

This was not an accident or a secondary measure, but was very typical of the internal structure of the Habsburg Empire, and corresponded to the natural dynamics of this kind of state.

In essence, the imperial authority was trying to insert Lombardy-Venetia into so-called “Mitteleuropa” (a historical, geographical, cultural and ethnic area alien to it), subordinating the economy and society to the interests of Austria and imposing laws and measures contrary to its traditions and interests. [6]

Significantly, it was subjected to an intense economic exploitation by the central Viennese power, which used local resources – drained through taxation – to fund the regions beyond the Alps. [7]

The Austro-Bohemian Field Marshal Joseph Radetzky arrived in Lombardy-Venetia, menacing the Italian inhabitants and hoping to repeat what had happened in the “Galician Slaughter” in 1846.

In the Habsburg region of Galicia a serious agrarian crisis in 1846 led to an extensive Ruthenian peasant insurrection, which led to the massacre of hundreds of Polish landowners.

The revolt met with no effective resistance from the Habsburg military and police authorities and it was suspected that the imperial administrators had fomented and fostered the insurgency in order to better control the Galician region by inciting the different ethnic groups against each other.

Even in Lombardy-Venetia in 1846-1847 there were several riots provoked by the agrarian crisis, which widespread public opinion attributed to the instigating actions of the government. [8] A knowledgeable scholar, the historian Marco Meriggi, wrote on the matter:
“The definition of Germanization, which contemporaries coined and which almost all historians have taken up, used to describe the salient characteristic of the political dynamics of the Empire in the period in question, is certainly well-founded.” [9]
The “kingdom” of Lombardy-Venetia ended in 1866. However, other regions inhabited by Italians remained under Habsburg rule: Trentino-Alto Adige, Julian Venetia, Dalmatia.

Emperor Franz Joseph therefore decided to proceed to their de-Italianization, through the systematic “Germanization and Slavicization” of these lands.

His decision was formalized in the Privy Council on November 12, 1866. The report reads:
“His Majesty has expressed the precise order that we decisively oppose the influence of the Italian element still present in some Crown lands, and to aim unsparingly and without the slightest compunction at the Germanization or Slavicization – depending on the circumstances – of the areas in question, through a suitable entrustment of posts to political magistrates and teachers, as well as through the influence of the press in South Tyrol, Dalmatia, and the Adriatic Coast.” [10]
The imperial order is further proof of the contrast between historical reality and the false “Habsburg myth”.

The quotation cited above from the Habsburg Council of Ministers on November 12, 1866, with the categorical order to proceed with the Germanization and Slavicization of the Italian population of the Empire subject to them, can be found in countless studies, carried out by historians of different nationalities, in different years, in the course of several independent studies. [11]

We can cite the report by Professor Luciano Monzali in his seminal study on the Italians of Dalmatia:
“The reports of the Habsburg Council of Ministers from the end of 1866 demonstrate the intense anti-Italian hostility of the emperor and the nature of his political policies on this issue.
Franz Joseph was fully convinced of the idea that the Italian and Italian-speaking element was generally disloyal to the Habsburg dynasty: during the Council of Ministers, on November 12, 1866, he gave strict orders to “oppose the influence of the Italian element still present in some Crown lands, and to aim unsparingly and without the slightest compunction at the Germanization or Slavicization – depending on the circumstances – of the areas in question”.” [12]
In any case, Franz Joseph's decision does not mark any radical break with Austrian policies of the recent past: as we have seen, already in Lombardy-Venetia they were carrying out policies of Germanization. Furthermore, the famous report of 1866 gave impetus to projects that were already previously promoted by leading personalities of the Empire.

For example, Field Marshal Radetzky already planned an ethnic cleansing in Dalmatia, saying:
“We must slavicize Dalmatia in order to remove it from the dangerous intellectual influence of Venice, which the Italian population looks to with excessive admiration.” [13]
Similar threats against the Italians well before 1866 were also made by the governor of Trieste, General Ferenc Gyulay (later a Field Marshal, viceroy of Lombardy-Venetia, and commander of the Austrian army in the war of 1859).

In 1848 the government's official newspaper Osservatore Triestino published an article inspired by him, in which he promoted the idea of inciting the Slavic masses of Istria against the Italians, causing a civil war. [14]

The idea expressed by Gyulay was so similar, once again, to the scheme of the “Galician Slaughter”, with the intention of inciting an ethnic group more loyal to the Empire against another ethnic group that desired independence.

Therefore, as far as the denationalization policy implemented by the Imperial Council of Ministers in 1866 is concerned, we can speak of a continuity with previous policy, not a break.

This political direction manifested itself in Julian Venetia and Trentino in measures and initiatives that especially affected the education sector (favoring institutions in the German or Slovenian language, while not opening and even closing Italian schools), the public employment sector and the bureaucracy (favoring the hiring and promotion of Slavs and strongly favoring Slavic immigration, while at the same time proceeding to expel Italians), while the press adopted restrictions against Italian journals (for example, Il Piccolo was subject to seizure, while L'Indipendente suffered from suspension).

The Italian community, sometimes speaking through the city of Trieste or through the episcopate of Trento, often criticized the decisions of state authorities, even challenging the religious policy (the appointment of Slavic bishops to Trieste, the increase of Slovenian and Croatian clergy who were often supporters of their own national movements, and the Germanization policies in Trentino which had anti-Catholic and vaguely Protestant connotations) and police activities (accused of imposing their will at the expense of the Italians).

There were also allegations of Germanization and Slavicization of geographical names and surnames, with public protests and written complaints.

The political conflict between Italian autonomism and Austrian centralism of the state, in which the hegemonic Austrian establishment intersected, thereby causing a national rivalry between the Italians on the one side, and the Austrians and South Slavs on the other. [15]

Ernesto Sestan, one of the most important Italian historians, in his classic study on Julian Venetia emphasized the dual action of defense conducted by the Italians in that region against both the Germanization coming from the centralized state and against the Slavicization carried out by the Slovene and Croatian nationalists.

Germanization and Slavicization, i.e. the central government and Slavic nationalism, were allied to each other, partly because Vienna believed Slovenes and Croats were more loyal, and partly because the national idea of the Slavs was often expressed in the form of Austro-Slavism, a political ideology which was designed to achieve the nationalistic aims of the Southern Slavs within the Habsburg state structure and with the support of the Empire. [16]

A recent study by Gerd Pircher helps to document what fate the Austrians were planning for Trentino during the First World War: once victory was achieved, they planned to maintain a military junta, declare German as the sole official language, impose German in schools, carry out a purge of the Italian administration, Germanize the place names and signs (which they had already begun to do), favor Austrian immigration with the intention of colonizing the region, etc.

These plans were supported by a group of soldiers, led by Archduke Eugene and General Alfred Krauss and Viktor Dankl, who planned the denationalization of Trentino and its Germanization, believing practically every Italian to be a potentially hostile individual to the Empire and interning or deporting anyone who was considered politically unreliable. [17]

Although the Trentino and Julian Venetia were severely attacked, the denationalization of Italians ordered by the emperor reached its maximum severity in Dalmatia.

The main tool used to Slavicize the region was the systematic erasing of Italian culture from schools.

Professor Monzali observes:
"...the transition to a policy of denationalization and forced assimilation of the Italian Dalmatians was very rapid. The education question soon became a prime issue, with the abolition of the Italian language in schools and the refusal of the provincial and municipal authorities (who were Croatian nationalists) to fund any surviving Italian schools." [18]
Starting from 1866, not only were no new Italian schools opened by the authorities, but almost all those that already existed ended up being closed, and this happened in a region where the written and learned culture had virtually always been primarily or exclusively in Latin and Italian.

Out of the 84 municipalities in which Dalmatia was divided at the time, primary schools in the Italian language remained only in one, the city of Zara, while all the others disappeared: there ended up being only 9 elementary schools in Italian out of a total of 459.

Only two secondary schools in the Italian language remained, and only because they were linked to the seafaring world, where the use of the Italian language had a very strong tradition, and where Croatian was not used: these were the nautical schools of Ragusa and Cattaro.

Naturally, there were no Italian universities, neither in Dalmatia nor in the rest of the empire, as it was forbidden. In summary, the Italians of Dalmatia had primary schools in their own language only in Zara (1 municipality out of 84, even though Italians lived in every city), secondary schools only in Cattaro and Ragusa (2 municipalities out of 84, and it was limited to just two maritime academies), while there was not a single Italian university in the entire empire. [19]

The education question, although very important, was not the only plague to hit the Italian Dalmatian community. Another form of Slavicization of the region was the "complete Croatization of state administration", [20] which made Croatian the official language and essentially expelled the Italians, despite attempts by Italian political representatives to obtain a form of bilingualism, but by now the administration was taken over almost entirely by Croats who refused to compromise. [21]

The political staff was progressively Croatized; the old Italian government was substituted by a new Croatian government.

In 1861, all 84 municipalities of Dalmatia had Italian mayors. In 1900 only one remained, Zara, which was also the only one to retain Italian primary schools, which were forcibly closed in all the other municipalities.

Likewise the provincial Diet, which had always had an Italian majority, now became majority Croatian.

The electoral defeat of the Italians was due primarily to heavy electoral fraud, done with the connivance of the Austrian government authorities; there were forms of corruption, widespread violence and intimidation.

The Viennese central power was in fact able to decisively influence the elections of Dalmatia; the Austrians chose to support the Croatian nationalists and their Italophobic policy. [22]

The traditional and very ancient juridical prerogatives of Dalmatia, which had been preserved by Dalmatia's Latin cities since the 2nd century BC, also came under attack. Some norms and laws dating back to the Middle Ages, which recognized certain forms of autonomy and self-government, were maintained all the way up to the 19th century. Such prerogatives had been respected during the long Venetian period, but were completely destroyed during the short time under Habsburg domination.

Only in this way was it possible for the Croats – within a few years – to dominate and forcefully Slavicize the whole of Dalmatia, a region in which Italians had always formed the predominant and political class, thanks to their undisputed cultural and economic superiority.

The Slavicization of toponyms and onomastics was also part of an attempt to entirely eliminate the Italian ethnic group.

Dalmatian place names were usually Italian on the coast and islands, and Slavic only in the hinterland, however, Italian had always been the language of culture, and even the place names of Croatian origin were usually transcribed in Italian form.

It must be remembered also that the entire territory of Dalmatia had a centuries-old Latin settlement long before the arrival and slow infiltration of the Slavs, who formed a group of invaders and immigrants.

In brief, since the 2nd century BC these areas were entirely Latin, whereas the first Slavic presence only dates back to the 7th century AD and was relatively weak until the 14th century.

The Latin and Italian place names were therefore original, and by far outnumber the Slavic toponyms by a large margin.

The denationalization project implemented after 1866 led to the deletion of Italian names, or sometimes the imposition of bilingualism, even in cases where the names had always been exclusively Italian.

The Lieutenancy of Dalmatia reached the point of issuing a decree in 1912, which perpetually abolished the Italian names of 39 towns that were entirely Croatized.

The distortion of place names took place in land registration acts and in maps, which were pervasively Slavicized. [23]

At the same time they even proceeded to Slavicize surnames. The historian Attilio Tamaro, author of the monumental History of Trieste, among other things, wrote:
"The priests are cooperating in this distorted system of ethnic and historical destruction of Julian Venetia and Dalmatia. The bishops of the provinces, except Parenzo, have blind devotion to the Austrian government, and all are Slavs, by the express will of Vienna. As such, through the episcopal seminaries and through their relations with the provincial interiors, they increased with great intensity the production of Slavic priests and, taking advantage of the small number of Italian priests that the provinces could produce, filled all the parishes with Slavs, even the Italian parishes. The Slavs, ignoring the protests of the inhabitants, were under the strong protection of the Government, with whom they were organically linked in this work: they Slavicized the surnames in birth records, marriage records and deaths records. The goal was to create statistical data and official documents that would seemingly substantiate the non-existence or gradual extinction of Italianity in the region, in order to effect Government policy." [24]
Yet another form of Slavicization took place within the Catholic Church itself, through the liturgy, sacred texts and the clergy.

The bond between throne and altar was close in the Habsburg Empire, especially after the concordat of 1855, which granted the emperor the right of extensive interference in church affairs, and the clergy could be considered to some extent as imperial officials.

Furthermore, throughout the 19th century the leaders of the Croatian nationalist movement were all priests and bishops.

The most visible aspect of this operation of Slavicization, which was felt by a large part of the Italian population, was the forced introduction of a liturgical rite in the Slavic language, the so-called "Glagolitic rite". It was a novelty in Catholic circles and imitated the Orthodox liturgy, but it had been tacitly tolerated by the ecclesiastical authorities of the Church, since it was limited to a few very small areas.

By the 19th century it had practically disappeared, and it was entirely unknown by the Italian populations in Julian Venetia and Dalmatia. The Papal Curia of Leo XIII and Pius X called upon the supporters of Glagolitic to return to the Latin rite; the popes mistrusted them and opposed their desire to "reintroduce" such rites into a land where it had never been practiced.

Despite the opposition of the Italian population of Dalmatia and the distrust of the Vatican itself, the Roman liturgy in the Slavic language (instead of Latin) ended up being introduced under the pressure of the Croatian nationalist clergy.

The diffusion of the Slavic liturgy, which was accompanied also by sermons, songs, etc. in the Croatian language, was used by these nationalists to forcibly Slavicize the Italian population.

The Glagolitic cult was not only reintroduced, but was also imposed in areas where it had never been used and where the inhabitants were overwhelmingly majority Italian. The discontent was naturally very strong among the people, who often preferred to abandon church rather than attend religious services in the Glagolitic rite.

The island of Neresine was the scene of repeated attempts at religious Slavicization, in contrast to Catholic orthodoxy, in contrast to the existing customs, and contrary to the expressed will of the inhabitants.

A Croatian friar named Smolje demanded to celebrate mass in Glagolitic in the parish church of Neresine on September 22, 1895, resulting in all the parishioners abandoning the ceremony and forming a serious insurrection. This same priest demanded to impart baptism in Croatian, so he could Slavicize the names, and refused to do so in Latin even when directly requested by the child's father.

The Superior of the Franciscan convent of Neresine, Luciano Lettich, demanded to impose the Croatian language at the burial ceremony of the spouses Antonio and Nicolina Sigovich, causing several of the relatives and other faithful to voluntary abandon the ceremony. Another episode of the many we could cite, happened on the second Sunday of April in 1906, a Croatian friar insisted on celebrating the Glagolitic rite in the church of San Francesco in Cherso, an island of purely Italian history and culture. The faithful, in the face of this celebration, which seemed to them like nationalistic propaganda, left the religious building en masse, leaving only the Croatian friar.

After these and other similar events, the inhabitants of Neresine – and other areas threatened with forced Slavicization (Ossero, Cherso, Lussinpiccolo) – appealed unsuccessfully to the bishop of Veglia, Anton Mahnich. After their appeals were rejected by the Slavic prelate, they decided to appeal directly to Rome.

The severity of these reported events caused Pius X to intervene, removing Mahnic from his office as bishop.

Even after this, the Vatican had to again directly intervene to denounce and condemn both the liturgical abuse of the use of the Glagolitic rite, as well as the support the Slavic priests were giving to Slovenian and Croatian nationalism, as happened for example on June 17, 1905, when the Cardinal Secretary of State, by order of Pope Pius X, sent a stern letter to the Minister General of the Franciscan Friars Minor with strict orders to energetically intervene and put an end to the behavior of Croatian Franciscans in Dalmatia who were seeking to introduce Croatian into the liturgy.

The Catholic Church itself did not at all welcome the pretenses of the Croatian nationalists and their attempts to restore the Glagolitic rite, both for strict liturgical reasons, and because often times such a request came from pan-slavists with an overt sympathy for Eastern Orthodoxy. In conclusion and in summary, glagolism resurfaced after 1848 and was therefore a liturgical innovation imposed by Slavic nationalists who held ecclesiastical offices, which deeply hurt both the national and religious feelings of Italian Catholics, who were forced to embrace foreign rites of dubious conformity with Catholicism. [25]

The persecutions directed toward the Italians, in an attempt to force them to become Croats, also included the exercise of violence, which became practically endemic, with daily acts of aggression against Italians and Italian property:
"In 1910, at Cittavecchia, during the night, unknown assailants broke open the doors of the local Italian Dalmatian Union, robbed a mirror, two Venetian paintings, a bust of Dante, a lamp, a wall clock, and threw them into the sea. It was a painful act of vandalism. In Sebenico an Italian worker, when questioned in Croatian, responded in Italian; he was then attacked and beaten. The Croatian Mayor of Sebenico one time proclaimed to the Croats of Zara: "My brothers! Do as we do in Sebenico: take to the streets, with guns in hand, and shoot. The Italians will submit. If you need me, call me: I will join you." Episodes like these took place every day." [26]
The testimonies regarding the widespread use of violence against Italians by Croatian nationalists in Habsburg Dalmatia are numerous and detailed. The police also participated in the anti-Italian assaults, which sometimes were deadly:
"The public administrators were terrorists; the police of the various municipalities became a tool of government suppression. In Spalato a policeman shot and killed an Italian fisherman; the murderer was saved by a psychiatrist. In Sebenico a policeman cut a citizen's head off. In Traù a policeman named Macovan gunned down a poor worker who belonged to an Italian opposition party... The Croatian Party defended the persecution by saying that the Italians refused to recognize the Croatian national character of Dalmatia." [27]
The historical archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs contains extensive documentation on the many incidents that occurred at the beginning of the twentieth century, not only in Dalmatia, but also in Trentino and Julian Venetia. [28]

The objective was to extinguish all autonomous political and cultural life, and to forcefully Croatize the Dalmatian Italians.

The impact of these combined series of measures against the Italians was devastating, causing a rapid decline of the Italian ethnic group in Dalmatia.

Professor Monzali wrote:
"In the first unofficial Austrian statistical studies made in the 1860's and 1870's, the number of Italian Dalmatians ranged between 40,000 and 50,000; in the official census of 1880, their number declined to 27,305, and fell even more sharply in the following decades: 16,000 in 1890, 15,279 in 1900, 18,028 in 1910 (out of a total population of 593,784 inhabitants of Dalmatia in 1900, and 645,646 in 1910)." [29]
Partial data associated with individual towns brilliantly exemplifies the overall demographic trends presented above and the collapse of the Italian population. Let's briefly cite the example of Lissa.

This small island, Latin since the Roman period, for many centuries was populated almost exclusively by indigenous Dalmatians who spoke a Romance language, before becoming part of the territories of Venice, to which it belonged uninterruptedly for many centuries. Until 1797, which marked the collapse of Venice, the people of Lissa virtually all spoke the so-called "Veneto da mar" (Venetian dialect).

The census which took place in the era of Napoleon calculated that Italians formed 80% of the population of Lissa.

Compare that figure to the first official Habsburg census, that of 1880: the Italians were valued at 64% of the total population. The census shows a sharp decline of ethnic Italians, but they still remained a clear majority.

But a mere twenty years later, the Italians of Lissa almost disappeared. According to the Habsburg census of 1900, the inhabitants of Lissa were 97% Slavs and only 2.4% Italians.

The Habsburg census of 1910 reconfirmed that the Italians were reduced to a flicker on the island, since they now represented only 2.5% of the inhabitants. In summary, the Italians of Lissa had gone from approximately 80% at the beginning of the 19th century, to 64% in 1880, and finally to 2.4% in 1900.

The size difference of the Italian ethnic group in Lissa particularly stands out: they were 3,292 (64%) in 1880, and just two decades later they were reduced to 199 (2.4%), a decrease of 94%.

Similar observations on the decline of the Italian population can be seen in many other parts of Dalmatia: from 1880 to 1900, according to the Habsburg censuses, the Italians on the island of Arbe declided from 567 to 223; the Italians of Cittavecchia di Lissa from 2,163 to 169; Comisa from 1197 to 37; San Pietro della Brazza from 421 to 43; Spalato from 5,280 to 1,046; Traù from 1,960 to 170. Many other examples could be cited.

In the same period the Habsburg administrative documents report the disappearance of Italians in a number of towns where they had always lived: Bua, Isto, Meleda, Sestrugno, Zirona Grande, etc.

A full enumeration of the statistical data describing the collapse of the Italian population in Dalmatia would take too long, and in any case it would break down the proverbial open door, since these are well-known facts among scholars. [30]

In brief, the number of Dalmatian Italians had suffered a meltdown in a few short years, both in absolute numbers and in percentage ratio of the overall population, as can be seen by Habsburg statistical sources.

The impressive results of this denationalization process can be summarized as follows: in 1845 the authorities calculated the Italian population to be 19.7% of the population of Dalmatia; the Habsburg census of 1865 recorded a total of 55,020 Italians, or 12.5% of the population; the 1910 census counted only 18,028 Italians, or 2.7% of the Dalmatian population.

From 1845 to 1910 the Italians of Dalmatia went from 19.7% to 2.7% of the population. [31] Compared to the total Dalmatian population, the percentage of Italians in 1910 was roughly 1/7 of that of 1845.

The decline of the Italian ethnic group in comparison to the total population of Dalmatia was therefore 6/7: from 19.7% in 1845 to 2.7% in 1910.

Professor Luciano Monzali spoke explicitly about the period of 1866-1914, which witnessed the denationalization of Italian Dalmatians by the Austrian imperial government and by local Croatian nationalists. [32]

This same process took place against Italians in Julian Venetia and in Trentino during the same time period, since the measures used against the Dalmatian Italians were roughly the same as those that were used against people of Italian nationality in Julian Venetia and Trentino.

Bibliographic Notes

[1] C. Magris, Il mito asburgico nella letteratura austriaca moderna, Torino 1963.

[2] R. Musil, L’uomo senza qualità, Torino 1972, p. 162.

[3] A. J. May, The Passing of the Hapsburg Monarchy. 1914-1918, Philadelphia (Penn.) 1966.

[4] M. Meriggi, ll regno Lombardo-Veneto, Torino 1987, p. 268.

[5] Ibidem, pp. 269-270.

[6] Ibidem, p. 100.

[7] Ibidem, pp. 271 sgg.

[8] C. A. Macartney, L’Impero degli Asburgo, 1790-1918, Milano 1976., pp. 356-359; Meriggi, Il regno, cit., p. 327. Cattaneo, Dell'insurrezione di Milano nel 1848 e della successiva guerra, cap. III, “Marshal Radetzky, surrounded by a staff of Teutomaniacs, was desperate at the time to shed blood, boasting of wanting to repeat the massacres of Galicia in Italy. How could we doubt it when we witnessed the executioner Ludwig von Benedek appear in Brescia with military authority, and the brother of the executioner Breindl invested with civil authority?”

[9] Meriggi, Il regno, cit., p. 100. One of the many direct observers of this work of Germanization, Cattaneo, had no hesitation in defining the empire as a “German power” which pursued Germanic nationalist intentions. Cattaneo, Dell'insurrezione di Milano nel 1848 e della successiva guerra, cap. I

[10] The original German version is as follows: «Se. Majestät sprach den bestimmten Befehl aus, dass auf die entschiedenste Art dem Einflüsse des in einigen Kronländern noch vorhandenen italienischen Elementen entgegentreten durch geeinignete Besetzung der Stellen von politischen, Gerichtsbeamten, Lehrern sowie durch den Einfluss der Presse in Südtirol, Dalmatien und dem Küstenlande auf die Germanisierung oder Slawisierung der betreffenden Landesteile je nach Umständen mit aller Energie und ohne alle Rücksicht hingearbeitet werde. Se. Majestät legt es allen Zentralstellen als strenge Plifcht auf, in diesem Sinne planmäßig vorzugehen.» Essa si ritrova in Die Protokolle des Österreichischen Ministerrates 1848/1867. V Abteilung: Die Ministerien Rainer und Mensdorff. VI Abteilung: Das Ministerium Belcredi, Wien, Österreichischer Bundesverlag für Unterricht, Wissenschaft und Kunst 1971; la citazione compare alla Sezione VI, vol. 2, seduta del 12 novembre 1866, p. 297.

[11] Without pretending to exhaustively indicate all the studies on the subject, citing these essential references should suffice: G. Novak, Političke prilike u Dalmaciji g. 1866.-76, Zagreb 1960, pp. 40-41; A. Filippuzzi, (a cura di), La campagna del 1866 nei documenti militari austriaci: operazioni terrestri, Padova 1966, pp. 396 sgg.; C. Conrad, Multikulturelle Tiroler Identität oder 'deutsches Tirolertum'? Zu den Rahmenbedingungen des Deutschunterrichts im südlichen Tirol während der österreichisch-ungarischen Monarchie, in J. Baurmann/ H. Günther/U. Knoop, (a cura di), Homo scribens. Perspektiven der Schriftlichkeitsforschung, Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1993, pp. 273-298; U. Corsini, Problemi di un territorio di confine. Trentino e Alto Adige dalla sovranità austriaca all’accordo Degasperi-Gruber, Trento, Comune di Trento 1994, p. 27; H. Rumpler, Economia e potere politico. Il ruolo di Trieste nella politica di sviluppo economico di Vienna, in R. Finzi-L. Panariti-G. Panjek (a cura di), Storia economica e sociale di Trieste, vol. II, La città dei traffici: 1719-1918, Trieste 2003, pp. 87-88; A. Cetnarowicz, Die Nationalbewegung in Dalmatien im 19. Jahrhundert. Vom «Slawentum» zur modernen kroatischen und serbischen Nationalidee, Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2008, p. 110.

[12] L. Monzali, Italiani di Dalmazia. Dal Risorgimento alla Grande Guerra, Firenze 2011, p. 69.

[13] M. Scaglioni, La presenza italiana in Dalmazia. 1866-1943, tesi di laurea, università degli studi di Milano.

[14] B. Benussi, L'Istria nei suoi due millenni di storia, Venezia-Rovigno 1997, pp. 480 sgg.

[15] The bibliography on these topics is immense, so we limit ourselves here to a few sources: B. Benussi, L’Istria nei suoi due millenni di storia, Venezia-Rovigno, 1997; B. Coceani, Un giornale contro un Impero. L’azione irredentistica de “L’Indipendente” dalle carte segrete della polizia austriaca, Trieste 1932; U. Corsini, La questione nazionale nel dibattito trentino, in A. Canavero- A. Moioli (a cura di), De Gasperi e il Trentino tra la fine dell’800 e il primo dopoguerra, Trento 1985, pp.593-667; A. Fragiacomo, La scuola e le lotte nazionali a Trieste e nell’Istria prima della redenzione, in “Porta orientale”, 29, 1959; M. Garbari, L’irredentismo nel Trentino, in R. Lill-F. Valsecchi (a cura di), Il nazionalismo in Italia e in Germania fino alla prima guerra mondiale, Bologna 1983; V. Gayda, L'Italia d'oltre confine. Le provincie italiane d'Austria, Torino 1914; A. Sandonà, L’irredentismo nelle lotte politiche e nelle contese diplomatiche italo-austriache, vol. 3, Bologna 1932-1938; A. Tamaro, Le condizioni degli italiani soggetti all'Austria nella Venezia Giulia e nella Dalmazia, Roma 1915; A. Tamaro, Storia di Trieste, Roma 1924; G. Valdevit, Chiesa e lotte nazionali: il caso di Trieste (1850-1919), Udine 1979; P. Zovatto, Ricerche storico-religiose su Trieste, Trieste 1984.

[16] E. Sestan, Venezia Giulia. Lineamenti di una storia etnica e culturale, Udine 1997, pp. 91, 95-103; A. Moritsch, Der Austroslawismus. Ein verfrühtes Konzept zur politischen Neugestaltung Mitteleuropas, Wien 1996

[17] G. Pircher, Militari, amministrazione, e politica in Tirolo durante la prima guerra mondiale, Societa di Studi Trentini di Scienze Storiche, Trento 2005. This is the Italian translation of the original work entitled Militar, Verwaltung, und Politik in Tirol in Estern Welkkrieg, Universitatsvelag Wagner, Innsbruck 1995.

[18] Monzali, Italiani di Dalmazia, cit., p. 142.

[19] G. Deuthmann, Per la storia di alcune scuole in Dalmazia, Zara 1920; A. Ara, La questione dell’Università italiana in Austria, in «Rassegna storica del Risorgimento» LX, 1973, pp. 52-88, 252-280.

[20] Monzali, Italiani di Dalmazia, cit., p. 300.

[21] Ibidem, pp. 297-301.

[22] G. Praga, Storia di Dalmazia, Varese 1981; Monzali, Italiani di Dalmazia, cit., pp. 138 sgg., 168-178.

[23] G. Dainelli, Carta di Dalmazia, Roma 1918; A. Tamaro, Le condizioni degli italiani soggetti all'Austria nella Venezia Giulia e nella Dalmazia, Roma 1915.

[24] Tamaro, Le condizioni, cit.

[25] A. Cronia, L'enigma del glagolismo in Dalmazia dalle origini all'epoca presente, in “Rivista Dalmatica”, Zara 1922; M. Lacko, I Concili di Spalato e la liturgia slava, in A. Matanić (a cura di), Vita religiosa, morale e sociale ed i concili di Split (Spalato) dei sec. X-XI. Atti del Symposium internazionale di storia ecclesiastica (Split, 26-30 settembre 1978), Padova 1982, pp. 443-482; S. Malfer, Der Kampf um die slawische Liturgie in der österreichisch- ungarischen Monarchie – Ein nationales oder ein religiöses anliegen? in “Mitteilungen des Österreichischen Staatarchivs”, 1996, n. 44, pp. 165-193; J. Martinic, Glagolitische Gesange Mitteldalmatiens, Regensburg 1981; G. Valdevit, Chiesa e lotte nazionali: il caso di Trieste (1850-1919), Udine 1979; P. Zovatto, Ricerche storico-religiose su Trieste, Trieste 1984.

[26] V. Gayda, L'Italia d'oltre confine. Le provincie italiane d'Austria, Torino 1914, p. 297.

[27] R. Deranez, Alcuni particolari sul martirio della Dalmazia, Ancona 1919.

[28] Monzali, Italiani di Dalmazia, cit., p. 239.

[29] Monzali, Italiani di Dalmazia, cit., pp. 170-171.

[30] D. De Castro, Cenno storico sul rapporto etnico tra italiani e slavi nella Dalmazia, in Studi in memoria della prof. Paola Maria Arcari, Milano 1978; G. Perselli, I censimenti della popolazione dell'Istria, con Fiume e Trieste, e di alcune città della Dalmazia tra il 1850 e il 1936, Trieste-Rovigno 1993; O. Mileta Mattiuz, Popolazioni dell’Istria, Fiume, Zara e Dalmazia (1850-2002), Centro di Ricerche Storiche di Rovigno-Ades, 2005; Scaglioni, La presenza italiana, cit.

[31] Š. Peričić, O broju Talijana/talijanaša u Dalmaciji XIX. stoljeća, in Radovi Zavoda za povijesne znanosti HAZU u Zadru, n. 45/2003, p. 342.

[32] Monzali, Italiani di Dalmazia, cit., p. 142.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Italia Irredenta

(Written by Politicus, taken from the journal “The Fortnightly”, Volume 97, 1915.)

Italy is an extremely densely populated land, and the natural resources of the country are totally insufficient for maintaining a large population. Per square mile there are no fewer than 318.8 people in Italy, as compared with 310.4 in Germany, 189.5 in France, and 100.5 in Spain. As the Peninsula possesses practically no coal and no iron, the foundation of prosperous manufacturing industries is extremely difficult, for cheap coal and iron form the basis of successful manufacturing industries. At the same time, the prevalence of bare and rocky mountains throughout the Peninsula, an irregular rainfall, frequent droughts, the scarcity of subsoil water, the lack of forests, and the absence of large rivers and streams, make the highest development of agriculture impossible. In these circumstances, it is only natural that Italy cannot nourish her rapidly growing population, that she has a very considerable emigration, and that important Italian colonies are to be found, not only in trans-oceanic countries, but in all her neighbour States. The French territories bordering upon Italy with Nice, the Swiss Canton Ticino, the southern part of the Austrian Tyrol, Istria with Trieste, Corsica and Malta, are very largely peopled with Italians.

The Italians are a proud, ambitious, and exceedingly patriotic nation. Their population of 36,000,000 is insufficiently large compared with that of the other Great Powers. The strength of a nation largely depends upon its population. Hence many Italians desire to join to their country the territories near by, upon which Italy has some claim on the ground of history, and especially on that of nationality. However, whilst scarcely a single Italian will be found ready to advocate wresting by force Corsica and Nice from France, the Canton Ticino from Switzerland, or Malta from England, the vast majority of the people passionately desire to take by force the districts peopled by Italians which are retained by Austrians. The reason for this discriminating attitude is obvious. The Italians living under the French, Swiss, and British flags are prosperous, happy, and free. Those living under the Austrian flag are, and always have been, persecuted, oppressed, and ill-treated. Italy has a historic and well-founded grievance against Austria, and Austria has, with incredible short-sightedness, done her utmost to keep that grievance alive. Thus she has created that movement which is usually called "Italia Irredenta," the unredeemed Italy—a movement which strives to bring about the reunion of Italy with all the outlying Italian territories, but which in reality is aimed exclusively against Austria-Hungary.

Since the fall of the Roman Empire, Italy was divided against itself and had ceased to be a State. The country became split up, and many States occupied the Peninsula. Through their divisions and internecine wars, Italy declined and became a prey to other nations, and with Italy's power, Italy's prosperity and civilisation almost disappeared. Slowly the consciousness of a common language and of a common nationality arose. Many Italians began to recognise that unity gives strength; that Italy could find salvation only if it should once more become an organised single nation. The war of the French Revolution and Napoleon's conquest of the Peninsula greatly strengthened the spirit of nationalism and a longing for national unity among the Italians. The overthrow of the great Corsican seemed to promise to the Italians the dawn of a new era. But they had reckoned without Prince Metternich. That great Austrian diplomat intended to make all Italy an Austrian dependency and an Austrian possession. He refused to acknowledge the existence of an Italian nation, stating at the Congress of Vienna that "Italie ne représente qu'une union d'États indépendants, réunis seulement sous la même expression geéographique."

According to him, Italy was merely a geographical expression. He treated with contempt the essential unity of the nation and the loud claims for freedom and self-government raised by the leading Italian people. Owing to his action, Italy was cut up at Vienna for the benefit of Austria. The Austrian Emperor was given the kingdom of Lombardo-Venezia. An Austrian Archduke became Governor of Milan. Austrian princes were made Grand Dukes of Tuscany and Dukes of Modena and of Parma. Austria ruled indirectly also the non-Austrian portions of Italy. The Bourbon King of Naples and Sicily had to bind himself that he would not introduce any institutions irreconcilable with those prevailing in Lombardo-Venezia. Metternich even endeavoured to form a confederation of Italian States dominated by Austria, but he met with a refusal from the King of Sardinia, who was supported by the Emperor of Russia.

At the Congress of Vienna, Austria split up Italy into a number of artificial States, brought the whole country under her domination, and prepared everything for ruling Italy by dividing it against itself, and by over-awing the people. The political reforms which had been introduced into Italy during the revolutionary and the Napoleonic era were abolished. ... All Italian professors who were suspected of liberal views were dismissed. The Press was muzzled. The right of free speech was taken away from the people. All Italians suspected of liberal views or patriotic leanings were spied upon, imprisoned, or hounded out of the country. All Italy began to swarm with police agents, spies, and informers. A most rigorous passport system was introduced, under which suspected Italians were forbidden to travel in their own country, and to leave their homes, even for a few days. The Austrian prisons were filled with Italian patriots. The leading Italians, poets, authors, and scientists were treated as conspirators and common criminals. The poet, Silvio Pellico, was sent for life to the prison of Spielberg. The Lombardo-Venezian kingdom was strongly fortified and filled with Austrian soldiers, and Austrian troops acted as police and executioners in the non-Austrian States of Italy as well. They suppressed the revolution which had broken out in the kingdom of Naples and in the States of the Church.

Owing to this rule of terrorism and persecution, the people were forced to defend themselves by forming secret revolutionary societies. Oppression created despair, and despair violence. Great men like Mazzini preached the employment of anarchistic methods against Austria. Popular risings of the outraged people were ferociously suppressed by the Austrian military. After repeated unsuccessful revolts, the Italians recovered their freedom and their unity in the wars of 1859 and 1866. Austria had to withdraw from the Peninsula, but she retained some valuable districts in the north and in the north-east of Italy, the Southern Tyrol, the Trentino, as the Italians call it, and Trieste and the surrounding districts. The fathers and grandfathers of the present generation have lived and suffered under the Austrian yoke, and they have fought against that country. It is, therefore, not unnatural that there exists throughout Italy a ferocious inherited hatred against the land of the Hapsburgs, especially as Austria has done all in her power to keep that hatred alive by perpetuating in the Italian districts still under her control the wrongs which she had inflicted upon Italy herself until she was driven out of the country. In 1914 a valuable study, L'ltalia D'Oltre Confine—Le Provincie Italiane d'Austria, by Virginio Gayda, was published by Fratelli Bocca, Turin, and much of the information given in the following pages has been taken from that large and reliable book.

During a century Austria has followed the identical policy towards the Italians under her sway. Seeing in them a nation of dangerous conspirators, she has thought it necessary to rule them not by the civil power, but by the military. In the old Lombardo-Venezian kingdom Field-Marshal Radetzki was more powerful than the local governors and the Emperor at Vienna. Even now the military lays down and supervises the policy which is followed by the Austrian Government in the Trentino and in the districts of Trieste. Both districts are treated like a conquered land, both are overawed by numerous fortresses, and by large bodies of troops drawn from the non-Italian portion of Austria's population. In both districts Austria strives to denationalise the Italians by swamping them with men of another nationality, who enjoy the unswerving support of the Government. Austria endeavours to destroy the Italian elements in the Trentino by setting against them the Germans. They are to be converted into Germans. In the district of Trieste, on the other hand, Austria is exploiting the desire of the neighbouring Slavs to acquire that town. Hence she imports into Trieste and the surrounding districts large numbers of Slavs, and endeavours to convert the Italians living in them into Slavs.

The town of Trieste is essentially an Italian town. Some years ago, when visiting it, I arrived in the Porto Vecchio. The boat landed at the Molo San Carlo, and I was driven by the Via del Corso through the Piazza Carlo Goldoni, past the Teatro Goldoni, through the Via del Torrente and the Via Stadion, past the Giardino Publico and the Piazza d'Armi, through the Via Miramar to the Castle of Miramar. In Trieste all the street names are Italian, and so are practically all the inscriptions. The people one sees about look like Italians, and speak Italian. The Burgomaster of the town is called Podestà. One forgets that one is on Austrian soil. Close to Trieste and along the shore are numerous Italian towns and villages, such as Servola, Muggia, Nabresina, Monfalcone, but further inland the towns and villages bear Slavonic names, such as Herpelje, Basovizza, Smarje, etc. The Venetians founded colonies along the Adriatic. The coast towns of Istria and Dalmatia bear Italian names and are largely Italian, but the hinterland is Slavonic.

Among the many nationalities which are found in the Dual Monarchy the Italians are numerically the weakest. Nevertheless, these suffer from a form of persecution at the hands of the Government which is spared to the other nationalities, for nowhere in Austria-Hungary does the Government try to destroy a nationality by swamping it by the importation of large numbers of men belonging to another nationality. This movement was begun between the years 1845 and 1848, when the spirit of nationalism in Italy became aroused. During those years the Government brought 20,000 non-Italians into the town of Trieste. Afterwards that policy was discontinued, but it was taken up with redoubled energy after the year 1866, when Austria lost Venezia to Italy.

During the last few decades the Government has exploited the differences existing between Slavs and Italians regarding the control and ownership of Trieste, and has imported nearly exclusively Slavonic people into that town. Between 1900 and 1910 the Slavonic population of Trieste increased by no less than 130 per cent., whereas the population of the Slavonic province of Carniola increased by only 3.3 per cent. Whenever a need for workers arises, the Government imports Slavonic men. In building the Tauern Railway the Government imported at one stroke into Trieste 700 Slavonic workers and their families. It imported 2,500 Slavonic workers for the construction of the new port of Sant'Andrea. The Austrian Lloyd, which stands under Government control, introduced 1,300 Slavonic workers into its building yards, and the Stabilimento Technico Triestino was forced to dismiss all its Italian employees, and these were replaced chiefly by Slavs. The result of this policy is apparent from the census figures. Trieste is a flourishing town; it is the Austrian Hamburg, and its population is rapidly increasing. However, although the Italian part of the population is growing quickly, the Slavonic part is growing far more quickly, and the result is that the Italian element is losing ground. Between 1900 and 1910 the proportion of Italians declined from 77.4 per cent. to 74.4 per cent. During the same period the Slavs increased from 16.3 to 19.4 per cent. of the population.

The Government endeavours not only to replace the Italian workers of Trieste by Slavonic ones, but it is replacing the army of Italian officials by Slavs. Trieste swarms with officials of every kind. Formerly, the majority of these were Italians, but these have been replaced not by Germans, but by Slavs. In 1910 of 828 employees at the State railway station only 70 were Italians and 728 were Slavs. Of 358 postmen 95 were Italians and 245 Slavs. Of 500 Custom House officers only 146 were Italians, and of 661 policemen fewer than 100 were Italians. In 1910 there were in Trieste 4,600 State officials; of these 3,700, or four-fifths, were Slavs. In the small Italian towns in the neighbourhood no Italian officials have been left. The elimination of all Italian officials is demanded by the military largely because they fear espionage by Italian postmen, etc. The Law Courts also have become denationalised, and only a few Italians are left in higher positions, because they are difficult to replace. When new men are appointed to positions in the Government service non-Italians are always given the preference. A Slav who knows only Slavonic is appointed, and an Italian who knows Italian, Slavonic, and German is not considered.

Formerly the Law Courts were purely Italian. According to the fundamental laws of Austria-Hungary, the Law Court proceedings should be conducted in the language of the majority. That provision, which is rigorously enforced elsewhere in Austria, is disregarded in the Italian portions of the Monarchy. The Law Courts in Trieste are gradually being made Slavonic. The Slavs began twenty years ago to introduce their language into the Courts. Slavonic lawyers settled in Trieste, and some of the judges accepted documents written in Slavonic. Later on some of them began to allow Slavonic to be used in oral proceedings, the judges acting as interpreters, and before long Slavonic began to be used for giving judgment. When, in 1903, the City protested against Slavonic being used in Court, the then Secretary of State, Mr. Koerber, refused to interfere. The Italian judges are dying out, and Slavonic ones are appointed in their stead. Before long the Italians will have completely disappeared from the Law Courts of Trieste.

Among the most powerful nationalising agencies are the school and the Church. The Austrian Government endeavours to denationalise the Italians by means of the school and the Church, and its policy is powerfully supported by the well-organised Slavs, who strive to conquer Trieste for themselves. More than three-quarters of the inhabitants of Trieste are Italians. Yet there is not a single Italian State school of the ordinary type. The Government supports only a nautical school and a commercial high school, which were founded one in 1754 and the other in 1817. In Trieste and on the sea-coast near by dwell 383,000 Italians. They possess only two intermediate schools maintained by the Government, one at Pola and one at Capodistria.

On the other hand, Cracow, with only 100,000 inhabitants, has five Polish intermediate schools and two technical schools supported by the Government. The Government obviously follows the policy of supporting the Poles and suppressing the Italians. All nationalities dwelling in the Italian districts are encouraged except the Italians. In Trieste and the Italian districts near by there dwell fewer than 20,000 Germans, who are scattered among the Italians. Entirely for these the Austrian Government maintains six intermediate schools at Trieste, Pola, and Gorizia, and most of the German schools stand relatively empty. In 1911-12 the eight classes of the German intermediate school at Gorizia were frequented by only forty-six German scholars. Owing to the lack of educational facilities Italians are forced to send their children to German and Slavonic schools, unless they succeed in establishing schools of their own with their own means.

Recognising the danger of losing their nationality by the insidious educational policy followed by the Austrian Government, a powerful movement for counteracting that policy arose among the Italians living in Austria. The town of Trieste is most active in its effort of defending the Italian nationality by means of Italian schools. In 1911 Trieste maintained 21 Italian elementary schools with 16,570 children and 14 country schools. The town of Trieste spends 1,350,000 crowns a year on its Italian schools, and some of the buildings are monuments of Italian nationalism, being constructed regardless of expense. The town maintains besides eight kindergarten schools at a yearly expenditure of 100,000 crowns. In addition to these, Italian intermediate and technical schools have been founded by the town, and considerable amounts are spent every year in subsidising schools, in buying books and boots for the school-children, and in assisting the parents of very poor children. Trieste spends per year no less than 3,262,000 crowns on education, to which more than one-sixth of its total expenditure is devoted.

Although the people of Trieste are allowed to establish schools of their own and to appoint their teachers, the supreme control is retained by the Government, which directs what subjects may, or may not, be taught. Among the subjects which are forbidden may be found the history of Trieste. The children must not know that Trieste was at one time an Italian town. The attempts of the Government to destroy the Italian spirit among the people are often most ludicrous. By an Ordinance of June 21st, 1913, the Governor, Prince Hohenlohe, prohibited the municipality to name two institutions maintained by it after Dante and after Petrarca. Following the policy of pin-pricks, and fearing treason everywhere, sport meetings arranged by the Italians of Trieste are frequently forbidden, under the plea that they would constitute "a nationalist demonstration." Almost anything may be forbidden as "a nationalist demonstration."

In December 1911 a citizen of Monfalcone was ordered to take down a winged lion on his house, because it resembled that of the Republic of Venice, and therefore involved a political demonstration. Italian music is frequently suppressed as a political demonstration. A child at Trieste, eleven years old, playing at home on the piano, started the Garibaldi hymn. A policeman appeared, ordered her to stop playing, and her father was imprisoned for a fortnight for the treasonable action of his daughter. Freedom of speech and freedom of the Press are, of course, non-existent. On February 13th, 1910, the police destroyed in the Servola furnaces twenty tons of printed paper, the result of numerous confiscations of Italian newspapers and reviews. The Italian charitable and sociable organisations are liable to be dissolved without any cause by order of the Authority. The wearing of the Italian colours, or the use of the Italian flag, is, of course, strictly forbidden, although Italy is Austria's ally.

The Government has not only imported a large army of Slavonic workers into Trieste and has endeavoured to suppress the Italian schools, but it has also striven to denationalise the Church. Of 290 priests in Trieste 190 are Slavs, and Slavism is undermining the Italian Church in exactly the same way it is undermining all other Italian institutions. Encouraged by the Government, the feud between the Slavs and Italians has become so bitter that an Italian can no longer be certain to obtain the blessings of his Church if the priest is a Slav. At Spalato a Croatian priest refused to give burial to an Italian. In Topolovaz, in Istria, the parish priest refused to bury an Italian child. In Sterna the Slavonic priest refused the last sacrament to a man because he was an Italian.

All the world over Latin is the language of the Roman Catholic Church, but in the Slavonic parts of Austria Latin is being replaced by Slavonic. At Lindaro a Croatian priest refused to baptize an Italian child because the father wished the function to be conducted in Latin. The Croatian bishop Mahnic ordered the priests in the island of Quarnero to give religious instruction in the Italian schools in the Croatian language, although the children understand only Italian. Apparently, the Slavonic priests are in many cases the agents of an aggressive nationalism. Their race patriotism seems to be stronger than their faith, and they rebel against Rome. How determined is their opposition to the use of Latin may be seen from the fact that on October 28th, 1913, an Italian schoolmaster at Sogignacco, in Istria, was proceeded against in the Law Courts for having disturbed the Roman Catholic divine service because he had sung the Litany in Latin in a procession. Some Slavonic priests are so determined to conquer the country for Slavism that they have endeavoured to force the Slavonic language into purely Italian centres. The Slavonic priests have begun to say in Slavonic masses, sermons, and prayers, and even in Italian Trieste Slavonic has begun to be used in the churches. Naturally, many Italians have left their church in disgust.

The Slavs have founded powerful societies, which provide the Government with Slavonic workers from the Slavonic hinterland, which establish co-operation among them, and which strengthen their cohesion in every possible way. The Narodni Dom gives to every married Slavonic worker who settles in Trieste the complete furniture of a room and of a kitchen. That is, of course, a great inducement for poor people who cannot make a living in Austria to get married and settle in Trieste instead of emigrating.

In self-defence against the attacks of the Government and the Slavonic organisations, the Italians have created organisations of their own. Among these the Lega Nazionale is the best known and the most powerful. It was created in 1890. In 1901, after ten years' existence, the League possessed 131 local groups in Austria, with 24,000 members. It maintained 21 schools and institutions of its own and subsidised eight others. At the end of 1911, after twenty years of existence, the membership had increased to 42,041, and it maintained 74 schools of its own, subsidised 136 others, arid maintained besides 153 libraries and other institutions. It has a yearly income of more than 600,000 crowns and a capital of more than 1,000,000 crowns. In view of the fact that there are only 800,000 Italians in Austria, who, by voluntary contributions, have collected these sums, these results are certainly most remarkable, and are a monument to the patriotism of the Italian people.

Elsewhere in the Italian provinces of Austria the Italians are persecuted as they are in Trieste. Not far from Trieste lies Pola, the Austrian Portsmouth. Of the 4,000 workers employed at the Pola Arsenal, 3,000 who were Italians have been dismissed. In a single year practically all the Italians employed at the Law Courts were replaced. Pola, like Trieste, is pre-eminently an Italian town. But in Pola also the Slavs are increasing far more rapidly than the Italians. In ten years the number of Slavs and Germans at Pola has doubled, while that of the Italians has increased only by one-fourth. In Pola, as in Trieste, the Government endeavours to denationalise the Italians by starving the Italian schools and promoting the teaching of Slavonic. As Pola is an important naval base, the methods employed for terrorising the Italians and for depriving them of their work are far more ruthless than at Trieste.

The sea towns along the Austrian Adriatic, such as Capodistria, Isola, Pirano, Salvore, Umago, San Lorenzo, Cittanova, Parenzo, Orsera, Rovigno, Fasan, are absolutely Italian. But the interior of the peninsula of Istria is Slavonic, except for Italian islands which are found here and there. The Italian farmers in Istria are experiencing hard times, and are gradually deserting the country for the town. Their place is taken by Slavs, whose requirements are smaller than are those of the Italians, and the acquisition of Italian farms is facilitated by the Slavonic cooperative societies, which, desirous of driving out the Italians, consider the acquisition of Italian land as a patriotic deed.

Until recently Italians carried on the Austrian Merchant Marine, but Austria endeavours to drive the Italians from the sea. Lately Austria has established navigation schools, where only the Croatian language is taught. Austria evidently endeavours to make it impossible for Italians to exist and to make a living on the Adriatic coast.

The Italian Tyrol, the Trentino, occupies a most important strategical position. A glance at the map shows that the protecting wall of the Alps is penetrated by the Austrian Trentino. The Austrian frontier ends in the middle of the Lago di Garda. Hence, an Austrian army can penetrate without difficulty into the Italian plain. The Trentino is an Austrian sally-port, which constantly threatens Italy's integrity and peace. Austria has maintained that important position in order to be able to strike a mortal blow at Italy at any moment.

In view of its strategical importance, it is only natural that the military is supreme in the Trentino, especially as the country is practically purely Italian. In Southern Tyrol dwell 373,000 Italians and only 12,000 Germans, and the majority of the latter are soldiers or Government officials. The capital, Trento, or Trent, is purely Italian, and so are the smaller towns. The Trentino is protected against Italy by numerous and extremely powerful fortifications, which command all the approaches from Italy, and the peace garrison consists of thirty-six battalions of infantry, three battalions of engineers, five battalions of fortress artillery, twelve batteries of mountain and field artillery, etc. Regardless of expense, the Government constructs every year military roads. Considering the Trentino a district of the greatest military importance, the Austrian Government, guided by its soldiers, endeavours to overawe the Italian element of the country.

As the Italian Tyrol slopes towards Italy, Italy is its natural market. However, the Austrian Government impedes traffic between Italy and the Trentino in every possible way, and discourages trade and industry. The carriage roads and telephones end at the Italian frontier. The great water powers of the Trentino remain unutilised because the Austrian Government does not allow electric power derived from them to be sold in the Italian plain. Italian financiers are prevented by Austria developing the Trentino, which Austria refuses to develop. The Trentino, like Trieste, lives under a régime of petty persecution. In Trieste, the history of Trieste must not be taught. In the school-books employed in the Trentino history ends with the year 1815. To the school-child history ends at the time when the awakening of nationalism in Italy began. In the Trentino, as in the other Italian provinces of Austria, Italian Associations are prohibited.

Arrests for suspected espionage are frequent in the Trentino and in Pola, and throughout the Italian districts the Italians are spied upon and denounced to the police. People who are suspected of nationalist leanings are expelled. People who are suspected of espionage are often kept in prison during months without trial. In the Trentino the Government endeavours, more ruthlessly than elsewhere, to stifle industry and liberty among the Italians. Unable to make a living, many Italians emigrate from the Trentino. While the Austrian Government encourages the Slavs in Trieste and the districts surrounding it, it encourages the pan-Germanic agitation in the Trentino, and that agitation is all the more successful as it disposes of very considerable funds obtained partly from Austria and partly from Germany.

There are about 800,000 Italians in Austria, and these occupy two extremely valuable positions. The Trentino is a point of the greatest strategical value, the possession of which is of vital importance to Italy. Its possession would secure that country against a sudden invasion from Austria. Trieste is extremely important as a commercial harbour, and Pola is a most excellent war harbour. The Italian shore of the Adriatic is flat and practically harbourless. The Austrian shore of that sea is studded with a large number of excellent natural harbours. The eastern shore of the Adriatic dominates the western, and Valona, lying at the narrow opening of that sea, is at the same time its Gibraltar and its Portsmouth. While Italy is obviously entitled to the possession of the Trentino, both for geographical and national reasons... While, owing to the number of Italians living in the towns, Italy has the strongest claims to Trieste and Pola, the Slavs lay claim to these towns, because they require outlets to the sea. ...the Italians have the stronger claim to Trieste on the ground of nationality...

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 1868 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