Massacres of Foibe

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The Massacres of Foibe are the mass killings in which the majority of victims were ethnic Italians in 1943, after the capitulation of Italy on 8 September, and in 1945, when Yugoslav partisans under the command of Tito occupied parts of Venezia Giulia, Istria and Dalmatia. Some historians have claimed the violence and consequent Italian Istrian-Dalmatian exodus was a planned ethnic cleansing.[1][2][3][4][5][6] National Memorial Day of the Exiles and Foibe is Italian celebration in memory of the victims.

Number of killed Italian citizens[change | change source]

The estimate is several thousand killed Italian citizens.[1] According to a report issued in 2000 by a mixed Slovene-Italian historical commission established in 1993, the number of people missing from the region, most of whom finished in the foibe, alias local geological clefts, range from 1,300 to 1,600 but this estimate does not include those killed in current Croatian territory. Some of them were court-martialed fascists or enemy soldiers, but many civilian persons were also killed. The great majority of the persons killed were of Italian nationality.

The killings beginning after the capitulation of Italy in 1943, and the massacres of 1945 occurred partly under conditions of guerrilla fighting of Slovenian and Croatian partisans with the German and remaining Italian Fascist forces, and partially after the occupation of the territory by the army formations of Yugoslavia. Killings may have included war crimes as well as civilian crimes of private or political retaliation, as well as "political cleansing" and planned ethnic cleansing since 1947.[7] Also Italian communists with Slav partisans killed Italian people; in addition to the foibe, several other carnages committed by Italian communist partisans under Palmiro Togliatti's command in the resistance movement have remained unacknowledged and undiscussed for many years.[8]

Victims[change | change source]

Victims were not all Italians because many killed citizen were anticommunist Croats and Slovens: many women were raped before killing. Historians like Raoul Pupo or Roberto Spazzali estimated the total number of victims at about 5,000; Guido Rumici calculates from 11,000 upwards including all people died in concentration camps;[9]Giampaolo Pansa calculates around 15,000 always including all people died in concentration camps;[10] fascist politician and historian Giorgio Pisanò calculated total from 10,000 upwards.[11] It was never possible to extract all the thousands of corpses from foibes because some of them are deeper than several hundreds meters. Until few years ago it had been able to extract from the pits just a small number of bodies, less than six hundred while other sources are attempting to compile lists of locations and possible victim numbers.[12] Almost all historians calculate hundreds of victims real assassinated by hard pushes to foibe while the estimated number of total people killed in concentration camps is disputed and varies in thousands;[13] probably only a part of total cadavers was hided in foibe but a lot of bodies were accumulated in mass graves. Main concentration camps were in: Borovnica, Skofja Loka, Osijek, Stara Gradiska, Sisak, Zemun, Vrsac, Osseh, Aidussina, Maribor.

Renowned Italians[change | change source]

Renowned Slavs[change | change source]

Investigations of the foibe[change | change source]

No investigation of the crimes had been initiated either by Italy, Yugoslavia or any international bodies, until after Slovenia became an independent country in 1991. Italian-Slovene relations in the relevant period (1880s to 1950s) have been under intensive study by historians since 1990. A joint report by a commission of historians from both countries was published under the auspices of the two governments in the year 2000. The report puts the Italian-Slovenian relations in a wider context. It touches also on the question of mass killings associated with the foibe. As no exact count was ascertained, the report includes a wording of "hundreds of victims," referring to the territory relevant for Italo-Slovenian relations, and thus excluding the Croatian territories.

Italian-Slovene relationships[change | change source]

Even since Slovenia joined the European Union the relations between the two nations are a matter of political debate. The debate gained high visibility after the Italian Parliament, under Prime Minister Berlusconi and his coalition partners of centre-right provenance, made 10 February a National Memorial Day of the Exiles and Foibe, first celebrated in Trieste in 2005. The 2005 celebration of the Memorial Day was accompanied by an RAI TV movie production The Heart in the Pit (It: Il Cuore nel Pozzo) [1]. The movie was viewed by 17 million spectators on its first broadcasting in Italy alone.

Exiles from Istria and Dalmatia[change | change source]

Many Italians were forced to leave the country after massacres. Economic insecurity, fear of further retaliation and the change of regime that eventually led to the Iron Curtain splitting the Trieste-Istria region, resulted in approximately 350,000 people, mostly Italians, leaving territories in Istria and Dalmatia. The inhabitants of territories that were under Italian rule since World War I according to the Treaty of Rapallo of 1920, later assigned to Yugoslavia by the Paris Peace Treaty of 1947-02-10 and the London Memorandum of 1954 were given a choice of opting to leave (optants) or staying. These exiles were to be given compensation for their loss of property and other indemnity by the Italian state under the terms of the peace treaties.

On February 18, 1983, Yugoslavia and Italy signed a treaty in Rome where Yugoslavia agreed to pay 110 million USD for the compensation of the exiles' property which was confiscated after the war. By its breakup in 1991 Yugoslavia paid 18 million USD. Slovenia and Croatia, two Yugoslav successors, agreed to share the remainder of this debt. Slovenia assumed 62% and Croatia the remaining 38%. Italy did not want to reveal the bank account number so in 1994 Slovenia opened a fiduciary account at Dresdner Bank in Luxembourg, informed Italy about it and started paying its 55,976,930 USD share. The last payment was paid in January 2002. Until today Croatia hopes for a different solution of this matter and has not paid a dollar yet. The Italian side has not withdrawn a single dollar from the account yet.

Charge[change | change source]

In 1992 Italian judge Giuseppe Pittitto started a criminal trial after a complaint against suspected Slav criminals of war. Oscar Piskulic and Ivan Motika were both principal accused but they were discharged because territorial jurisdiction was rejected and they received acquittal under the amnesty of 1959.[14] In 1997 some Italian deputies pressed their government for extradition of suspected Slav criminals but diplomatic problems stopped Italian action. All Italian historians consider Josip Broz Tito the chief of Slav criminals, but his corpse still stays in a mausoleum.

Main foibe[change | change source]

  • Foiba of Basovizza (Trieste) national monument
  • Foiba of Monrupino (Trieste) national monument
  • Foiba of Barbana
  • Foiba of Beca
  • Foiba Bertarelli (Pinguente)
  • Foiba of Brestovizza
  • Foiba of Campagna (Trieste)
  • Foibe of Capodistria
  • Foiba of Casserova
  • Foibe of Castelnuovo d'Istria
  • Foiba of Cernizza
  • Foiba of Cernovizza (Pisino)
  • Foiba of Cocevie
  • Foiba of Corgnale
  • Foiba of Cregli
  • Foiba of Drenchia
  • Quarry of bauxite in Gallignana
  • Foiba of Gargaro or Podgomila
  • Foiba of Gimino
  • Foiba of Gropada
  • Foiba of Iadruichi
  • Foiba of Jurani
  • Quarry of bauxite in Lindaro
  • Foiba of Obrovo (Fiume)
  • Foiba of Odolina
  • Foiba of Opicina
  • Foiba of Orle
  • Foiba of Podubbo
  • Foiba of Pucicchi
  • Foiba of Raspo
  • Foiba of Rozzo
  • Foiba of San Lorenzo in Basovizza
  • Foiba of San Salvaro
  • Foiba of Scadaicina
  • Pit of Semez
  • Foiba of Semi (Istria)
  • Pit of Semich
  • Foiba of Sepec (Rozzo)
  • Foiba of Sesana
  • Foiba of Terli
  • Foiba of Treghelizza
  • Foiba of Vescovado
  • Foiba of Vifia Orizi
  • Foiba of Villa Surani
  • Foiba of Vines
  • Foiba of Zavni (forest of Tarnova)

Bibliography[change | change source]

  • Vincenzo Maria De Luca, Foibe. Una tragedia annunciata. Il lungo addio italiano alla Venezia Giulia, Editor Settimo Sigillo, 2000
  • Luigi Papo, L'Istria e le sue foibe, Editor Settimo Sigillo, 1999
  • Giorgio Rustia, Contro operazione foibe a Trieste, 2000
  • Claudia Cernigoi, Operazione Foibe - Tra storia e mito, Edizioni Kappa Vu, Udine, 2005 ([2])

Other pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Malcolm Anderson, Eberhard Bort page 77
  2. Pamela Ballinger page 161
  3. Article in Italian
  4. Article of il Giornale
  5. Raoul Pupo, Roberto Spazzali page 24
  6. adnkronos article
  7. Article in Italian pertinent Slav communist criminals
  8. Article in Italian pertinent criminals of PCI or Partito Comunista Italiano
  9. Infoibati (1943-1945). I Nomi, I Luoghi, I Testimoni, I Documenti, Mursia, 2002 ISBN 88-425-2999-0
  10. Il sangue dei vinti: quello che accadde in Italia dopo il 25 aprile. 16th edition. page 371, editor Sperling & Kupfer, year 2003, ISBN 9788820035662
  11. Storia della Guerra Civile in Italia 1943-1945, vol. I, page 500, Milan, FPE, 1965
  12. "Elenco delle foibe note" (in Italian). Digilander.libero.it. http://digilander.libero.it/lefoibe/elenco%20foibe.htm. Retrieved 2009-08-05.
  13. In Trieste, Investigation of Brutal Era Is Blocked NYT April 20, 1997
  14. Article in Italian pertinent charge

Report of the Italian-Slovene commission of historians (in three languages)

Other websites[change | change source]

Video[change | change source]