National Memorial Day of the Exiles and Foibe

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Medal of Day of Remembrance given to relatives of victims of foible killings Infoibati.png
Medal of Day of Remembrance given to relatives of victims of foible killings

National Memorial Day of the Exiles and Foibe, or Giorno del ricordo in Italian language, is an Italian celebration for the memory of the victims of the Foibe and the Istrian-Dalmatian exodus. With Italian Law 92 of 30 March 2004 [1] has been instituted this Day of Remembrance in day 10 February, to keep memory of victims of Foibe and of the exodus to which almost the whole population of Italian origins living in Dalmatia and Julian March has been constricted by Yugoslavia. The same law has instituted a specific medal to be conferred to relatives of victims:

Italian language Romance language

Italian is a Romance language of the Indo-European language family. Italian, together with Sardinian, is by most measures the closest language to Vulgar Latin of the Romance languages. Italian is an official language in Italy, Switzerland, San Marino and Vatican City. It has an official minority status in western Istria. It formerly had official status in Albania, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro (Kotor) and Greece, and is generally understood in Corsica and Savoie. It also used to be an official language in the former Italian East Africa and Italian North Africa, where it plays a significant role in various sectors. Italian is also spoken by large expatriate communities in the Americas and Australia. In spite of not existing any Italian community in their respective national territories and of not being spoken at any level, Italian is included de jure, but not de facto, between the recognized minority languages of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Romania. Many speakers of Italian are native bilinguals of both standardized Italian and other regional languages.

Foibe massacres

The "foibe massacres," or simply "the foibe," literally refers to mass killings by which the corpses were thrown into foibas, perpetrated mainly by Yugoslav Partisans, mainly in Venezia Giulia, Istria and Dalmatia, against the local Italian population, during and after World War II.

Dalmatia Historical region of Croatia

Dalmatia is one of the four historical regions of Croatia, alongside Croatia proper, Slavonia, and Istria.


Law's motivation

This National Memorial Day is held annually on 10 February and is observed by all Italian political parties including the President and comune mayors. The remembrance is in memory of the killing and enforced exile of Italians and democrat or anticommunist Slavs ordered by communist dictator Josip Broz Tito in 1943–60.

<i>Comune</i> third-level administrative divisions of the Italian Republic

The comune is a basic administrative division in Italy, roughly equivalent to a township or municipality.

Josip Broz Tito Yugoslav revolutionary and statesman

Josip Broz, commonly known as Tito, was a Yugoslav communist revolutionary and statesman, serving in various roles from 1943 until his death in 1980. During World War II, he was the leader of the Partisans, often regarded as the most effective resistance movement in occupied Europe. While his presidency has been criticized as authoritarian and concerns about the repression of political opponents have been raised, most Yugoslavs considered him popular and a benevolent dictator. He was a popular public figure both in Yugoslavia and abroad. Viewed as a unifying symbol, his internal policies maintained the peaceful coexistence of the nations of the Yugoslav federation. He gained further international attention as the chief leader of the Non-Aligned Movement, alongside Jawaharlal Nehru of India, Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, Nicolae Ceaușescu of Romania, Sukarno of Indonesia, and Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana.

The incidents are known as the foibe massacres and the Istrian exodus. According to recent studies and an estimation of the historian Guido Rumici the total number of Italian victims (including people murdered during their imprisonment or deportation) as ranging from 6,000 to 11,000, and up to nearly 400,000 expelled or emigrated from Dalmatia, Istria and the area bordering Slovenia.

Introduction of the Law

Exiles requested recognition of the Foibe many years ago but diplomatic reasons delayed any progress, given Italy's peaceful relations with president Tito, who was a useful ally against the Soviet empire during the cold war; but after the fall of all the communist dictatorships in Europe and the subsequent dissolution of the Italian Communist Party in January 1991, a Bill was introduced into parliament. [2] Italian deputies and senators almost unanimously voted in favour and the law was passed as number 92 on March 30, 2004. [3]

Italian Communist Party communist political party in Italy (1943–1991)

The Italian Communist Party was a communist political party in Italy.

Law's effect

The National Memorial Day of the Exiles and Foibe is a civilian memorial day but no reduction of working time is observed. [4] The law grants an award, but no money, for all relatives of assassinated victims, upon request. Those who died in Nazi concentration camps are also considered victims. The award consists of a certificate and a metal insignia with sentence The Italian Republic remembers. The law also institutes two museums; the Museum of Istrian-Dalmatian civilization in Trieste and the historical archive museum of Fiume, transported to Rome.

Nazi concentration camps concentration camp operated by Nazi Germany

Nazi Germany maintained concentration camps throughout the territories it controlled before and during the Second World War. The first Nazi camps were erected in Germany in March 1933 immediately after Hitler became Chancellor and his Nazi Party was given control of the police by Reich Interior Minister Wilhelm Frick and Prussian Acting Interior Minister Hermann Göring. Used to hold and torture political opponents and union organizers, the camps initially held around 45,000 prisoners. In 1933–1939, before the onset of war, most prisoners consisted of German Communists, Socialists, Social Democrats, Roma, Jehovah's Witnesses, homosexuals, and persons accused of 'asocial' or socially 'deviant' behavior by the Germans.

Trieste Comune in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy

Trieste is a city and a seaport in northeastern Italy. It is situated towards the end of a narrow strip of Italian territory lying between the Adriatic Sea and Slovenia, which lies almost immediately south and east of the city. It is also located near Croatia some further 30 kilometres (19 mi) south.

Approval and criticism

Italian president Giorgio Napolitano gave an official speech during the 2007 celebration of the "Memorial Day of Foibe Massacres and Istrian-Dalmatian exodus" in which he stated: [5]

Giorgio Napolitano 11th President of Italy

Giorgio Napolitano, is an Italian politician who served as the 11th President of the Republic from 2006 to 2015, and the only Italian President to be reelected to the Presidency. Due to his monarchical style and his dominant position in Italian politics, critics often refer to him as Re Giorgio. He is the longest serving President in the history of the modern Italian Republic, which has been in existence since 1946.

...Already in the unleashing of the first wave of blind and extreme violence in those lands, in the autumn of 1943, summary justice and tumult, nationalist paroxysm, and social retaliation were intertwined with a plan to eradicate the Italian presence from what had been, but ceased to be, the Julian Marches (Venezia Giulia). There was therefore a movement of hate and bloodthirsty fury, and a Slavic annexationist plan, which prevailed above all in the peace treaty of 1947, and which assumed the sinister shape of an "ethnic cleansing". What we can say for sure is that what occurred - in the most evident way through the inhuman ferocity of the foibe - was one of the barbarities of the past century.
Italian president Giorgio Napolitano, Rome, 10 February 2007 [6]

Although widely welcomed in Italy, this commemoration has received some criticism from the Italian radical left and in Croatia claiming it was an "attempt at neofascist revisionism". [7] In February 2012 a photo of Italian troops who were killing Slovene civilians (as a retaliation because Tito's partizans murdered Italian soldiers) was shown on public Italian TV as if being the other way round. When historian Alessandra Kersevan, who was a guest, pointed it out to the television host Bruno Vespa that it is Slovenes on the photo who were killed and not vice versa, the host did not apologize. A diplomatic protest followed. [8] [9]

See also

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  1. Legge n. 92 del 30 marzo 2004
  2. Article by Daniel J. Wakin
  3. "Declaration of Vote" (PDF). Transcript of the 561st Session of the Italian Senate (in Italian). pp. 38 and following.
  4. Official Italian law
  5. Presidenza della Repubblica, Giorgio Napolitano, official speech for the celebration of "Giorno del Ricordo" Quirinal, february 10, 2007 integral text from official website of the Italian President Bureau
  6. «....Già nello scatenarsi della prima ondata di cieca violenza in quelle terre, nell'autunno del 1943, si intrecciarono giustizialismo sommario e tumultuoso, parossismo nazionalista, rivalse sociali e un disegno di sradicamento della presenza italiana da quella che era, e cessò di essere, la Venezia Giulia. Vi fu dunque un moto di odio e di furia sanguinaria, e un disegno annessionistico slavo, che prevalse innanzitutto nel Trattato di pace del 1947, e che assunse i sinistri contorni di una "pulizia etnica". Quel che si può dire di certo è che si consumò - nel modo più evidente con la disumana ferocia delle foibe - una delle barbarie del secolo scorso.» from the official website of The Presidency of the Italian Republic, Giorgio Napolitano, official speech for the celebration of "Giorno del Ricordo" Quirinal, Rome, february 10 2007
  8. "Article". RTV Slovenia. 2012-02-15. Retrieved 2012-03-09.
  9. Il giorno del ricordo - Porta a Porta, from Rai website